Homemade snow cones are an ideal treat for a hot summer day. Buy an ice shaver (Sunbeam snow-cone machine, $24; amazon.com) and set out flavored syrups and colorful straws -- kids can mix custom flavors. Sweeten the deal by offering a boozy grown-ups-only version!
A campfire is the perfect way to end the day. Provide kids with marshmallows and long sticks (cut from green hardwood). If an open fire isn't an option, you can roast them over coals in a barbecue; they're just as delicious -- scout's honor!
Point guests in the right direction with homemade signs. Surratt used a mix of mini chalkboards and paper signs hung on clipboards to label the various activities and food stations around the camp.
Set up tables for crafters to create their own party favors. Guests can channel their inner camper and fold paper airplanes, decorate a mini birdhouse, or make a friendship bracelet. The secret to a clean craft area? Surratt says doling out supplies in small amounts helps. Too much accessible paint = one big mess. Shop teacher or camp-supply catalogs like K12 School Supplies (k12schoolsupplies.net) or S&S Worldwide (ssww.com) to buy DIY craft kits in bulk and at a discount.
Luckily, nature's beauty does most of the party decorating for you, but add a few camp-inspired touches to help set the scene. Putting up a tent or a tepee creates the ultimate summer campground.
Play classic camp games like a sack hop, tug-of-war, water-balloon toss, three-legged race -- even a slingshot contest. Host an award ceremony and hand out ribbons or medals in each category. Grouping teams by age makes for plenty of winners.
Originally published in the August 2013 issue of Parents magazine.