Turn a Family Visit into a Family Summer Camp

So many people I know went to summer camp between school years.  I never did that but I’m making up for it now!

We are lucky enough to have friends who live on a large piece of property with hills and fields, a vegetable garden, some wooded areas and a lake.  And now, we have a place to go during the summer that we call, “Camp Edwards”, named of course after our friends!

We’ve been visiting and spending time with them for years and years, and for some reason, last year we decided to stay a full week and that’s when Camp Edwards was born.


Here are all the camp participants in their official camp T-shirt.  We have the activities director, the chef, a couple camp counselors and one true camper.

Maggie, the dog, was one fun puppy.  She’s a wild one and unfortunately won’t be there this year because she has since run away!  I just don’t quite understand country pets.  Anyway, let’s first talk about our camp T-shirt.


If you wanted to create a camp of your own right at home, just run by your nearest craft supply store and buy up a bunch of the same colored shirts for about $3 each! Toss a couple of packages of fabric markers in your basket and you are ready to get official!  My son designed our camp logo which was a campfire, and he created all of the shirts, adding designations like “Chef” and “Counselor” to them for specific people.

It took him quite some time and I felt it was a good lesson in patience and perseverance.  As you may know, kid’s don’t like to sit still for a minute and he had to recreate the same design on 5 different shirts – BORING!!


Although you can create camp right in your own backyard, at our house, there are snakes, scorpions and alligators there so camp isn’t so much fun at home.  But being out of our own backyard got us up close and personal with animals we don’t have, like dogs…




…and horses!


My son actually took a ride on one.  Better him than me.  The last time I was on a horse, he laid down and rolled over like a dog and nearly crushed my leg.  And the time before that the horse bucked me off…oh yeah, and the time before that he stepped on my foot and my toe nail came off….needless to say, I DIDN’T go for a ride!

Getting away from home gave us the opportunity to do things we couldn’t do at home on our small neighborhood lot in our gated community…


Those of us, who didn’t know how to drive, learned to go forward and reverse in a golf cart.  What a great way to get your driving skills honed!


We learned the proper usage of a bow and arrow.  Of course there were safety lessons involved and lots of running around in the soybeans trying to find that bright yellow feather on the end of the arrows!!


And who couldn’t use a little alone time smacking wooden logs with a sledgehammer?  “What?” you’re asking…well I couldn’t let him have an ax could I?


Then, put all of the activities together in one, driving the Kubota, with your Dad there for you to feel safe, a couple of dogs chasing you for companionship and your Red Rider BB Gun.  I do believe this is boy heaven….maybe man heaven too!


At the end of the day, we all pitched in to get the campfire going whether gathering logs to burn or bringing the plates of marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers!


Another special thing about going to camp is all the fresh air you get.  You truly work hard, play hard, and then you get to rest.  One of those wonderful vacation sleeps that last until you decide to get up – not when the alarm says to get up!  This was late one morning when I was checking to see if he was still breathing!!


We recorded our fun at camp by collecting camp badges!  To get a badge, you had to at least try the activity – performance wasn’t important – its summer vacation for heaven’s sake!  It was my job to give out the badges and I added them to the sleeves of our shirts using the fabric markers that we brought along to camp.

This is my son’s sleeve and you can see that during the week he learned how to use a bow and arrow, shoot a Red Rider BB gun, he rode a horse, drove a Kubota, went canoeing, rode on a jet ski, sat by the camp fire, rode a motorcycle and had a fit that LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavs – thus the number 23 with a slash through it!


When it came time to say good-bye, we all went and sulked for a while.   But the good news is, a year has passed and it’s just about time to return to camp.

We are busy working on this year’s camp T-shirt and packing a box to send up north full of new things to try like rockets, models, experimental weather stations and wood burning kits!

My only question:  Is there a girl’s camp where we get our toenails painted, try on clothes, watch chick flicks, eat whatever we want and sleep all morning too?  If you know of one, let me know because I think camping is for me…at least the kind of camp that you create for yourself and do all the things you love to do.  No wonder we can’t wait to get back!


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