A few weeks ago Christie, my sister, Suzi, and I put on a summer science camp for our kids, as well as my niece and nephew, ages 5 to 11 (plus Christie’s Little Miss B—my youngest was left behind with my inlaws at “Grandma Camp”). It was seriously amazing. Other than a shredded tire (Suzi’s) a broken tent, a dented tailgate, and a jammed truck door (all mine), it seriously could not have gone better. So much went into it, we had so much fun, we took *so* many pictures. In the end, I’ve decided to just go over quickly some of the planning and prep work for the camp, and then later share some of the highlights 0f the camp itself. Suzi’s and my extended family owns a chunk of property in a tiny ghost town in Southern Utah. On that property is a large building with showers, toilets, a large kitchen and more than enough room to accommodate 11 campers and three adults. There are trailer hookups and even a playground, too. We kind of scored on this. Okay, we really scored. Other than being five hours away, our secluded building in the middle of nowhere was the perfect venue. We set up tents, a trailer, spread our stuff out, and had the run of the place for the better part of four days.
When we first met up in March to discuss the camp, school-teacher Suzi had us come up with a theme. After much deliberation, it was decided we’d do nature. From there we went through our lists of science topics and pulled out all those that were nature-related, filing the rest away for future camps. After that, it was easy to go around and divvy out who would teach/facilitate each topic. We also divided up dinners. We’d decided to provide our own breakfasts, snacks and lunches. So by the end of our first meeting, we had something like this mocked up. Coordinating workable dates for three families (really four, with my niece and nephew) on different summer and school schedules was the most difficult part of our planning. If you plan on doing a science camp, I highly recommend doing it with amazing people like Suzi and Christie. Planning this thing was a breeze and almost as much fun as the camp itself.
We’d also come up with a list of supplies each child should have: magnifying glass, pencils, crayons/colored pencils, composition notebook, and lastly, a bag to keep it all in that would also be big enough for other treasures and campy goodness. We all ended up using Noodlehead’s tutorial for messenger bags, each with our own modifications. Christie shows her bags made from fatigue jackets here. Suzi and I used military-issue camo pants. We all were able to pick up the fatigues at a local thrift store for anywhere from $2 to $4 each. With careful cutting, we could get two bags from each pant. Suzi and I used the waistbands of the pants for some of our bags (since we got two bags from one pant, only one of each pair got the waistband handle). I ended up loving this modification! The military waistbands have adjustments on them, which worked out great for shortening the handles for short campers. Plus, all the belt loops and extra whatnots made for fun places to stash odds and ends, like mini flashlights.
For those without the waistband handles, we used fat quarters to make simple straps. The same fabric was used to line the bags’ flaps. I even dolled up my 10-year old girly niece’s bag with an applique on the front flap to match her lining and handle. She wore the thing non-stop, even to bed, so I think she approved.
We added extra pockets, including the back flap pockets off the pants, to the inside for even more storage options
Noodlehead’s design was perfect for the Explorer Satchels, as we ended up calling them. All the kids loved them and used them throughout the camp, filling the with papers, snacks, rocks, sticks, and other necessities.
Next up was shirts. Every child was supposed to bring a dark-colored shirt. Funny: Suzi, Christie and I all ended up buying the exact shirts for all our kids. So just my niece and nephew had something different. For the shirts, we wanted to do screen printing with bleach. First, I found a magnifying glass image online (that I CANNOT find the link to now. But I did not design it, so whoever did, thank you for an awesome graphic), and then added text on Picnik. I used the same font to make a graphic for the front of the shirts. I had the stencils already made and ready to go before we left, so on our first night at camp we made our shirts. After a quick lesson on the science behind bleach, each child took turns with the stencils and bleach pens. After a rinse in vinegar and then hand washing in the kitchen sink, we hung them to dry overnight. With our schedule, Explorer Satchels, and matching shirts, we were ready for some serious science fun.