Sometimes, kids are just too young to fully enjoy the overnight camping experience. In 4-H, children need to be a least 8 years old (by September 1st) to attend overnight camps. Couch camping is a great way for Cloverbuds (4-H members between the ages of 5 and 7) to explore the world of camping without the mosquitos, rain, or anxiety of being away from home. Couch camping is also a great alternative when your work schedule or the weather do not allow for a “real” camping trip. Below are three simple tips for getting the most out of your next couch campout!
- Atmosphere– Push the furniture against the wall and set up a tent in your living room. Bring out the sleeping bags, pillows, and camp chairs. String white lights over the tent to simulate stars and let the kids decorate empty paper toweling tubes to simulate logs for the campfire. Red lights or tissue paper make great flames. Download sounds of frogs, crickets, and other forest sounds to play in the background. Then all that’s left is to dim the lights and turn on your battery operated lanterns.
- Food– Camp food is a must! Serve hotdogs or your favorite campfire meal and don’t forget the popcorn and s’mores. To make s’mores indoors, simply place your marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate in the microwave for 10-20 seconds. The marshmallows and chocolate will get gooey- the perfect consistency for s’mores. If you are worried about stains on the carpet, place a tarp or plastic tablecloth under your “campfire” eating area.
- Activities– This age group will really enjoy pretend play. Have toy fishing poles and nets for them to fish with. Use stuffed animals (such as frogs, bears or squirrels) and allow them to “track” the animals. Let them build a campfire with wooden blocks. Make shadow puppets or try flashlight reading. Build a simple birdfeeder out of a pinecone, peanut butter, and birdseed. You can also try a scavenger hunt or campfire BINGO. 4-H campfire songs are also fun, but we do not recommend ghost stories for this age group.
If you enjoy working with 5-8 year olds, consider becoming a 4-H Cloverbud Volunteer. There will be a training for Cloverbud Volunteers and preschool teachers on January 24th in Marianna, FL from 10AM-3PM. Participants will receive teaching kits for working with 5-7 year olds, and CEUs will be available for teachers. For more information, contact Heather Kent at firstname.lastname@example.org.