Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Basement Camping Like a Stunt Dad

Living in the midwest, I sometimes struggle with activities to keep the little ones busy on the weekends. It is too cold to go outside and they have already become bored with every toy purchased/given at Christmas. I started thinking about ways to take some of our favorite things to do in the summer and make them possible on a snowy day. That is where the idea for Basement Camping was born.

Here is what you are going to need to go on your own basement camping adventure:

  • Tent
    • About a year ago, I bought a two-man tent at Target for about $30. I tried like Hell to get Dumptruck to take me up on a night under the starts, but he had no interest. Like a character out of a sad children's book, the tent went without ever seeing the dark of night. It felt so great to be able to pull it off the shelf this past weekend (and with only a minor fit of swearing) and be able to set it up. Now if you don't have a magic $30 tent, you can always get away with a couple of chairs and a blanket over it or a refrigerator box... pretty much anything you can put an inflatable bed or sleeping bags into. You will find the kids don't care too much about the tent—they care more about the idea of being in it with you. 
  • "Stars" 
    • As you can see from the video, I was able to repurpose the Christmas lights as stars (good thing they were on top of the Christmas box). It only took about 15 minutes to set up and I think it added a nice effect to the room. It would have been nice to maybe have twinkle lights, but then again, it might start to look more like a rave and less like a campsite. If you don't have access to christmas lights or can't attach anything to the ceiling, you can always put a couple of cheap touch lights or flashlights into some shoe boxes with holes cut into it. This will project dots onto the ceilings. Again, most children do not have advanced degrees in Astronomy and they will look past most celestial inconsistenties your craft skills create. 
  • "Grass" 
    • You can't have a campout without grass (why does that phrase make me think of most of my college roommates). I went to Home Depot and bought a six foot strip of indoor outdoor carpeting for about $18. I think this is essential to properly creating the vibe. Also, you might be able to reuse this for future winter activities like an indoor putting green or creating a Green Monster to scare the hell out of the kids at night. Either way, I think it is worth every penny. 
  • "Fire" 
    • Like all cavemen, I love fire. The unfortunate thing is that you can't really start a campfire in the basement... well you could, but then you'd accidentally catch your wive's wedding dress on fire, have the firemen come, and watch your wife fall in love with one of those handsome devils, and you end up living in an efficiency apartment where you only get to see your kids on the "off" holidays like Arbor Day and Earth Day. It is not worth it. Go buy a six foot utility light, put an orange bulb in it and surround it with firewood. This will be the best $12 you will spend. 
  • "Nature" 
    • There are two ways to integrate nature into your indoor camping excursion:
      1. Use NatureSoundsFor.Me and create your own custom mix of fire, wind, wolves, crickets and literally tens of other options or...
      2. You could trap real bears, raccoons, or perhaps a wolf or two and release them in the middle of the night
  • Treats 
    • No fire... does not mean no s'mores? Using a mixture of graham crackers, Hershey Bars, and Marshmallow Fluff, I was able to cobble together a sugar treat that would rival the original. 
  • Activities 
    • Because kids have the attention span of goldfish, the fun of the tent will wear off in about ten minutes, be prepared to have some activities ready. I was able to setup a projector and watch movies on the wall. If that didn't work out, I had placed some stuffed animals around the basement so that we could go on a safari. And if that did not work out, we were going to crank call some of my old high school girlfriends:

    • DumpTruck: "Is this Girlfriend X?"
      Girlfriend X: "Yes, who is this..."
      DumpTruck: "I'm the son you could have had."
      Girlfriend X: "Huh, what? Who is this?"
      DumpTruck: "But I am calling to let you know I am ok with this, because I saw your picture and my mom is prettier... also my dad says you were a lousy kisser." (Slams down the phone.)
      (This is where we would high-five!!!).
So that is what it takes to turn your basement into a weekend adventure. My son loved it. We have officially become the Lewis and Clark of the basement and I look forward to our next adventure.

So what do you think? Are you going to try some basement camping of your own? If so, please share it with us. Do you have any other ideas for weekend activities? Let us know.

Not a parenting blog. Not a daddy blog. Not a mommy blot. It's a Stunt Dad blog.  

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