Day Camp Eve: Camp by the Light of Balloons!

Celebrating Day Camp Eve will put kids in a festive mood the night before they go to Oasis, especially if they are going for the first time. With a bit of preparation, this "campy" home activity can build excitement and inspire creativity.

You will need:

  • balloons in all sizes, shapes, and colors
  • book ends
  • heat-free electric tea lights
  • twine, yarn, or even kite string
  • clear tape
  • masking tape
  • a strand of white Christmas lights
  • finger foods and paper plates
  • a cooler with ice and beverages
  • sleeping bags
  • stories to tell

As you turn your living room into a camp site, let every family member have something to do so that everyone has a sense of being needed. Working in pairs or small groups strengthens family bonds, and quietly instills the value of teamwork. This project will be more fun and relaxed if you start in the morning.

  • Blow up the green ballons, tie them along a length of string, and wrap them around a pole lamp to make a tree. Use clear tape to secure the string to the lamp as you go. Place book ends around the base to make the trunk and roots.
  • Use plenty of blue balloons to make a flowing stream. Try tying them along a string, and making three strands to braid. Or, simply tape the balloons to the floor in a gently curved shape. It's a good idea to put the stream near a wall where it won't get stepped on!
  • Keeping safety in mind, let an adult use a tall ladder to pencil dots on the ceiling in constellation patterns. The dots are where the light bulbs will go. Use masking tape to cover over the wires as you place Orion or the Big Dipper. Don't worry about perfection; it is just as much fun to simply enjoy the stars.
  • Group several electric tea lights -- it's important to use the kind that are cold to the touch -- in the center of the room. Blow up one red, one orange, and one yellow balloon, and tie them together in a close bunch. Repeat the process using about four or five balloons tied in a circle, and tie these around the first set of three. Add a few more balloons at random. Don't use too many, or the light won't shine through. Tape the finished bouquet to the floor on top of the tealights for a mock campfire.
  • At any time along the way, let the kids use their imagination! Maybe they want a purple ballon to be a flower, or add a pink ballon to the fire. There is no wrong way to create this space.

Now that you have trees, a campfire, a rolling river, and stars overhead, lay out a few sleeping bags. Haul in the cooler and enjoy a simple meal together. Tomorrow is day camp! Talk about all the neat things they will do. What are they looking forward to the most? If older kids have been there, what did they like the best? Let them tell their favorite stories.

Remind the campers that they'll be sleeping at home: Day Camp Eve comes just once a year.

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