To make a camp headquarters, tie three parallel clotheslines to trees or other anchor points, with the center rope hung higher to form the roof's ridgepole. Drape on flat sheets (we used three full-size), clipping them in place with clothespins. Furnish the tent with pillows and a rug -- or, as we did, just stick with decor by Mother Nature.
Get into classic camp mode with a twist on tug-of-war called Stumps. Two players stand on upside-down milk crates set 6 to 12 feet apart on soft ground. Players pull or relax a rope, trying to force the other to step off her crate. Strategy trumps strength: a hard tug can be neutralized by a loosened grip, and sudden slack can make the tugger teeter.
For open-ended, hands-on fun, nothing beats messing with plaster. Kids will love the process of pressing cool doodads into clay, using foil to create a simple mold, and pouring in plaster of Paris. When dry, the results are amazing and make a fab camp keepsake -- or a fantastic Dad's Day gift. We used plastic animals, tools, and costume jewelry, but almost any hard object works (and any clay residue rinses right off after you're done).
This activity lets your campers experience beetle-mania -- and use up more of that plaster of Paris! To start, mix a cup of plaster according to the package's instructions. Carefully pour the plaster into disposable plastic spoons and let it dry. Pop the beetles out of the spoons and paint them with acrylics or tempera.
Set up this simple sundial, then keep the fun on track every day thereafter. Insert a dowel or straight stick into a pot of soil. Place the pot in a paved spot where the sun will reach it most of the day. Check the sundial every hour on the hour and use chalk to mark where the stick's shadow falls. Instead of a number, write that hour's fun activity. If it's about to rain, move the pot and cover your chalk markings with a waterproof tarp (just be sure to place the pot back in the same spot).
Originally published in the June/July 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine.