Simple everyday adventures can make life-long memories. Each summer at camp we work hard to create moments of adventure that “wow” our camper community. You as a parent have the ability to create similar moments in your own home. Let me give you an example. One night recently, I came home to a large pop-up beach tent in my living room. Jumping out of the my new living room décor was my three year-old daughter, informing me that mommy and she were watching a movie and I must join. There is nothing that compares to the look of excitement and wonder in her eyes as she settled in for the movie . The tent transformed our living room into a magical and unique place for her. It created a moment that I am confident my wife and I will both remember for a long time.
Little steps produce huge returns in adventure and imagination. In a previous blog, I spoke to summers of my youth playing outside with my peers in streams and fields. A world of imagination created from my mind. I am confident those years help to create the individual I am today. As parents, I encourage you to look at how you can help to expand your child’s imagination through simple hands-on activities. Anyone can watch a movie with their child, but by putting up a tent my wife and I changed the expectation in my daughters mind. In doing so, we opened the door to her imagination and positive growth. Look at your everyday routine. What can you do differently today? How can you make a simple change? How can you make a creative twist on your day, as author and speaker Micheal Brandwein would say. This is how we approach many activities at camp.
I know we all have very busy lives. You might be saying to yourself I don’t even know where to start. Let me give you some hints. At camp wilderness cooking is one of our highest attended activities. Campers and staff create stews, pizzas, desserts, and other tasty concoctions from sets of Dutch ovens, foil, and campfire coals. Seeing the campers faces as the open up items they have created is always fun. A parent at home can create a smaller similar experience with their child. A favorite of our campers is banana boats. This simple recipe only requires bananas, small marshmallows, chocolate chips, and aluminum foil. It also only takes minutes to create a tasty and fun dessert.
First decide on the level of adventure you wish to devote to this moment. Banana boats can be made in the oven or over a campfire. Parents who have more available time might seek to extend this experience by building a campfire in the backyard. It should go without saying that one should check local and state laws on open flames in your neighborhood before starting any fires. Banana boats, however, do not require a campfire. Place on a BBQ grill or even in the oven. No matter you choice of heat the basic recipe is as follows 1. Slit each banana lengthwise through the peel, making sure not to cut all the way through the fruit of the banana but not through the bottom layer of the peel. Stuff the bananas with marshmallows and chocolate chips. 2. Wrap each banana in aluminum foil and cook over a fire, on the barbecue, or in a 300 degree oven for 5 minutes, or until chocolate is melted. Eat with a spoon.
I highly encourage you not to just make banana boats for your children, but instead have them assist. After making the cut in the banana for them, even the littlest hands can sprinkle marshmallows and chocolate chips into the banana. Older children can assist with the placement and removal of the banana boats in the fire. Make sure to have them help clean-up. Remind them every great adventure takes work and effort. An experience where the children are an active part of the process always creates better memories. Start at Home, but Expand Out. As the director of Circle F Dude Ranch Camp, I encourage you to keep expanding your horizons of your children. Watch the wonder in their eyes the first time they see the banana come off the fire. The smiles that form when they try their first bite. Not a banana fan? Don’t worry - look up easy campfire recipes for a long list of banana free desserts and items you can make. If they love wilderness cooking, think about sending them to a camp for the summer. I promise you will not regret it. Stay tuned for another blog next month on how to have everyday summer camp adventures in your own home.Ben Moss is the Camp Director at Circle F Dude Ranch Camp in Lake Wales, FL. He has over 20 years of experience in summer camp and youth development work. He also holds a degree in Speech Communications from Southern Illinois University and was a Nationally Registered Paramedic.