By Lincoln McElwee
A fun and interesting take on intensive planning and going away for family vacations is something known as a “stay-cation,” where the traveling is all done to a destination such as your own backyard or even to a grandparent’s house for a night of fun and family togetherness. These types of vacations ensure that family time is still adhered to even with busy schedules, as well as catering to the travel bug that bites add odd times of the year. A “stay-cation” can turn any night or weekend evening into a cause for celebration. And the great thing is that they run on minimal planning and are very kid-friendly!
For those nights when the weather is wonderful and the sky is as beautiful as a painting, a great exercise is to have the family sleep outside in sleeping bags. This is such a fun experience for a variety of reasons (see a variety of sleeping bags here: http://www.rei.com/c/sleeping-bags-and-accessories). First, if your family has never gone camping before or stayed in sleeping bags, this fun, family-friendly exercise will help to prepare your family on sleeping outside in “nature” and in getting used to sleeping in the sleeping bags.
Another great thing about camping in sleeping bags outside is that it can turn into a great educational lesson as well. When the night is clear and stars can be seen, you can even bring out a telescope and point out specific stars and constellations to your children. This would work well as a supplementary activity to any lesson your child is learning on astronomy or mythology. Your family can make a game of guessing what constellations and what stars can be seen through the microscope and which can be seen with the naked eye! Have your children name the stars or planets, and then see who can tell why the planet or star is named what it is. What is the history behind it? This will turn into a great educational game with little effort on your part of trying to hold the interest of your kids!
If the weather is not so great or if your family prefers, sleeping in a tent is also a great way to introduce the family to camping, as well as to just have fun in your own backyard! Again, you can go and visit grandparents and bring a tent or sleeping bags along and have a little mini vacation. Tens come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can accommodate a number of people from one to a group. To find out a bit more about the right tent for your family, visit REI to see what they have in store: http://www.rei.com/c/tents. Of course sleeping bags and family activities can be added to family tent time, so be sure to think of creative ways to get your family involved in this small, but necessary, amount of quality time, whether it is again referencing the stars outside and nature or answering movie trivia as well as pop culture trivia!
If the night is just too dark to see stars or too cold, you can be sure to snuggle up inside your tent and play family games. Another great tool is an LED light that simulates stars as well. There may be one that runs on just batteries that you can have in the tent. This way, the entire tent will be lit up with rotating stars. It will make for an adventure that your family is sure to remember for some time to come and continue to talk about!