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If the kids can’t go to summer camp, camp can come to them! Like the idea of your children spending a few weeks at the lake, laughing and canoeing and making lots of new friends? That’s camp.

Maybe your kids are already there, maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re too young, it’s too expensive or you missed the sign-up deadline? Have no fear, Bunch is here — and we’re ready to bring camp to your house. Stay-cations are trending among, well, everyone right now, so why not among the school-age set? Forget about the bus trip north – Camp@Home can be just as fun with far fewer mosquitoes.

The Basics

From cheers and songs to logos and vocab, each camp has their own spin on things, so round up your campers and decide on the camp basics! Grab some plain T-shirts and stencils to design camp shirts, spend an afternoon working on your rhymes to come up with your Camp@Home’s official song or whip up some signs that designate the “Mess Hall,” “Outhouse” and “Cabins.”

Into the Wild

The school year is for city living, with days spent at desks and evenings with TV, Internet and i-everything. Summers at camp, at least, are all about the great outdoors. Many camps discourage campers from bringing electronics, and while banishing telephones and microwaves from Camp@Home would certainly be an experience, try having at least one outdoor hour every day. Go for a hike in a nearby forest, hit the local pool for a swim, or hop on your bikes and explore that neighbourhood you’ve always to see.

Check out some of our Get Outside posts for more fun ideas.

Let’s Get Creative

From skit nights and talent shows to hours in the pottery shack, camp summers encourage creativity. Do the same at Camp@Home by putting on puppet shows, making a camp fire and then telling stories around it, and getting messy with papier-mâché.

Challenge Yourselves

Going to a strange place without any familiar faces is definitely scary, but taking risks and trying new things is an integral part of camp. Even after unpacking in the cabin and making friends, there’s still water-skiing to master and portaging to struggle through. Push your kids a little outside their comfort level at Camp@Home, and maybe push yourself too.

Is your family super sporty? Try taking in a play, ballet or opera. If you all love your gadgets to death, consider an electronics-free – or even electricity-free –  day. Introverts, try talking to the next friendly family you see at the library or park. Taking risks as a family can make it less scary.

Tripping Out

At camp, the ultimate risk-taking adventure is often the canoe trip, which can last from a few nights to a few weeks. If it’s not feasible to to get to a lake, consider an overnight cycling trip – the Waterfront Trail near Bunch HQ is a favourite – or camp out in the backyard.

But trips don’t always have to be outdoorsy. Consider day trips to a local museum or art gallery or a pick-your-own berry farm. While camp days certainly have their routine – flagpole, dinner bell, mail delivery – they are far less structured than the usual grind when September hits. So while planning Camp@Home definitely makes sense, leave a bit of room for unplanned adventure and exploration.

You never know what might happen in the middle of rest hour!

photos: Virginia State Parks staff,  Spitshine, Yan Pritzker

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