Camping in your living room -- celebrating the year's shortest day

by Julie Snyder

camping indoorsJust think, from this point forward every day gets a little bit longer.

Hello, spring!

OK, maybe not quite spring yet, but each day brings it a little bit closer and that's definitely a reason to celebrate.

You might be heading out to a bonfire or a solstice party or you may be looking for ways to celebrate in the comfort and warmth of your home.

How about camping in your living room? It's a simple and fun way to unplug and reconnect with your family plus you have the benefits of plumbing and refrigeration.

Camp in your living room

Pitch a tent -- either a real one or drape a sheet over a card table. If you have camping gear, pull it out and use those that are safe indoors. Dome tents, mess kits, walkie-talkies, camping chairs and the canteens just add to the fun.

Since there's no electricity, turn off the lights and use a flashlight and glow sticks. Instead of TV, computer and phones, tell stories, play board games, sing songs around your "camp fire," go on a scavenger hunt or try out one of these indoor camping activities.

Indoor camping activities

Build a "campfire": Save up paper towel rolls or wrap construction paper into tube shapes. Before you pitch your tend, get out paintbrushes and brown, orange and tan paint. Have the kids make a bunch of logs to "burn" later. Rip orange and yellow tissue paper into strips to represent the flames. Arrange the logs and flames. For authenticity, place an LED flashlight under the paper.

Pillow maze: Pile all your pillows and cushions in one room. Create obstacle courses or mazes and then jump, slither and tumble your way through them.

Squirrel at the picnic: These pesky little critters tend to pack stuff off. Lay out a blanket with five or more things you'd take to a picnic, like a water bottle, plates, napkins, a fork and a bowl of food. Have the kids close their eyes and take one away. See who can tell what was "taken by the squirrel." Take turns being the squirrel.

Camping foods

Recreate a typical camping meal inside. Toss a tablecloth or blanket on the floor and eat picnic style. If you'd usually make foil packets and bake in the campfire, try making in the fireplace or the oven. Are hot dogs your usually camping fare? Make up a bunch. Finish off dinner with hot cocoa and s’mores.

Here's how you can make s'mores -- indoors!

Call it a night

Get on your jammies and climb in. By flashlight or candle light, make finger shadows on the tent wall. Read a story, make one last trip to the bathroom, via flashlight, of course and go to sleep early!

Have you forgotten how to form your fingers into those critters? Here's a refresher course on making shadow figures on the wall.

Kids have the ability to turn any break in the routine into something magical. Whether your child wants to look for fairies on the tree branches or go fishing in the bathtub, it's certain your indoor camping will make the longest night of the year seem too short.

What do you think of camping indoors? Great idea or a total bomb?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.