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the shark tent ate them
we went camping in san clemente this weekend. here's a shark tent eating up my daughter and a cousin...

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first camp-out of the summer!
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creative backyard camping

Sometimes the most relaxing and memorable campouts can be in your own backyard. Follow these tips for creating a fun and festive outdoor adventure without leaving home.

The Gear

The great thing about backyard camping is you can reduce the amount of gear you’d typically take for a trip to the local campground. But, try to bring enough things out to your backyard camp site to limit trips into the house. That way, it will feel more like a true camping experience.

The backyard basics:

* Tent. Find a level spot in the backyard to pitch your tent. Or, make the sleep out an adventure by constructing a homemade tepee for the kids (see Julie B’s Tip on how to build your own tepee).
* Sleeping bags (or blankets) and pillows.
* Table. If you don’t have a picnic table, bring a patio table or even a folding card table to your camp site for food preparation.
* Insect repellent and citronella candles.
* Flashlights. Bring at least two if the kids are sleeping in a separate tent or tepee.
* Portable fire pit or chiminea; dry firewood or twigs. A campfire is essential to the experience. Include a grill if you can’t cook easily (or safely) with your portable fire pit or chiminea. Let the kids gather sticks and twigs for you to use to start the fire, just like they do at their favorite campground.

The Grub

Start with campground favorites like hot dogs, baked beans and marshmallows. Heat an open can of beans on the side of your campfire just like you’re “roughing it,” and use grilling forks or sharpened sticks the kids can use to toast hot dogs over an open flame. Make sure the forks or sticks are long enough to keep them a safe distance from the open flames, and exercise caution when placing food on sharp forks or sticks.

For dessert, toast marshmallows to use in the following smores recipe.

Campfire Smores

Campfire SmoresIngredients
1 box graham crackers
1 bag marshmallows
1 bag chocolate chips
(Note: add a little peanut butter to the crackers for an added treat)

Toast your marshmallow over a campfire with a long stick until it is soft and gooey. Carefully place on one cracker (caution: gooey marshmallows can burn skin and mouth); sprinkle chocolate chips onto the marshmallow to taste. Complete the sandwich with the second cracker and enjoy!

The Fun

Consider these ideas to add fun and even learning to your great backyard campout.

* Be a Botanist. Encourage your kids to discover the amazing diversity of plant life in their own backyard. Challenge them to collect leaves from at least a dozen different trees and shrubs. Help them identify each species, and put the leaves in a scrapbook.
* Be an Astronomer. Extinguish the candles and shut off the flashlights after dark, and look for constellations in the night sky. The next day, get on the computer and identify what you saw. Check out astronomy web sites for kids that identify constellations and explain what planets and constellations are most visible in the sky this month.
* Be a Storyteller. Stories told around the campfire can stay with us for a lifetime. Use encyclopedias or search the web to research your region’s early inhabitants before your campout. Then, tell your children a story around the fire about the history of their neighborhood.
* Be a Singer. Campfire songs can be just as fun and memorable as stories, so pick a favorite and start a family sing-along. Just do it early enough as not to wake up the neighbors!

How to Make Your Own Tepee
Turn your backyard campout into a big adventure by making a homemade tepee.

Four wooden poles (minimum; at least 6’ in length) such as gardening stakes
Several old sheets
Rope, masking tape, thumbtacks
Plastic sheeting, tarp or large garbage bags
Screen or mesh
Step ladder

1) Space poles in a circular pattern (at least 6’ in circumference) on a flat spot.
2) Balancing them upright, tie poles together where they meet with rope or masking tape.
3) Wrap old sheets around the poles to form the tepee “skin.” Tie, tape, thumbtack or even staple the sheets to the poles, working from top to bottom. Overlap two sheets at the bottom to form an entrance flap.
4) Keep out insects by filling in openings at the bottom with extra blankets, sheets or old towels.
5) Place old piece of screen or mesh over the opening at the top where the poles meet.
6) Use plastic tarp, sheeting or large garbage bags to make a moisture-proof floor.
7) If you don’t care about the sheets, let the kids decorate their tepee with water colors or permanent markers.

from: http://www.homemadesimple.com/en_US/nbrcontent.do?contentType=op&articleId=ar003
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Blueberry Topping
Martha Stewart Living

Pair two of the best things about summer: fresh blueberries and ice cream. Make a sauce by melting 2 teaspoons unsalted butter in a saucepan set over medium heat; then add 1 pint blueberries and 1/4 cup sugar. Cook, stirring, until blueberries release juices, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly, and spoon warm sauce over ice cream. Garnish with more blueberries, if desired. Makes 1 1/3 cups.
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the dreamer An exotic encampment is just as suited to grown-up soirees as to tea parties with teddy bears.

The Campsite

A hand-painted canvas tent is pretty (and durable) enough to stay up all summer, and big enough to host the whole neighborhood.

Tent: Handmade Tibetan 13-by-9.75-foot tent, price upon request, Zoge.

Inside tent: Not-So-Heavy Metal footlocker, $168, Garnet Hill. Foldable wooden camp stool, $13, Pearl River.


Role-playing can last all day in this magical atmosphere. An overturned bucket (topped with fabric) and a tea set are all kids need for a gathering with friends—real or imaginary.

Floral metal stools, $60 each, Pakhuis Oost, Calypso Kids Home, (212) 941-9700. Young brown owl, $25, Hansa for stores. Child's Butterfly porcelain tea set, $27, Schylling, BabyScholars. Handmade Moroccan teapot, $65, Casbah Cafe, (323) 664-7000.

Bedding from Garnet Hill

If you don't have a sleeping bag, don't worry. Stack up a few blankets and pillows from the house, placing a drop cloth underneath to protect them from dirt.

Quilted coverlet in Chinois Green, $312 for full or queen size, dwell. Riviera polka-dot pillowcase (standard size), $65 a pair, DKNY, Macy's. All-Around chenille blanket in Paradise Pink, $68 for double or queen size, Garnet Hill. Bread bag (filled with flowers), $32, Stelton, Lekker.

find page at: http://www.cookiemag.com/homefront/product/2007/06/backyardcamping?currentPage=3
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A few old-fashioned activities will turn your backyard excursion into a night to remember.

show time

Project a movie onto a sheet hung from a clothesline or a wall. The MovieMate 30s (shown; $800, Epson) is made specifically for outdoor projections. Click here for a chance to win one.

Night games

Ward off any fears of the dark by playing some games before bedtime.

Flashlight hide-and-seek: Have the seeker "tag" any players he finds with the glow of his flashlight.

A moonlit tour: Lead a blindfolded person around the yard and have her guess where she's ended up.

Midnight portraiture: Draw a picture of your bunkmates in the dark, then turn on the lantern and guess who's who.

Shadow puppetry: Perfect your hand-shadow bunny, elephant, or puppy against the tent walls.
Spooky Stories

Can't quite remember the tales told during your slumber-party days? Cuddle up with:

A Very Hairy Scary Story, by Rick Walton, for ages 4 and up

Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories, for ages 8 and up

Tell Me a Scary Story ... but Not Too Scary! by Carl Reiner (a book on CD), for ages 4 and up

find at: http://www.cookiemag.com/homefront/product/2007/06/backyardcamping?currentPage=4
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