After a week long heat wave my boys were really looking forward to a weekend of their favorite activity – hiking at a nearby state park. Thursday’s weather forecast changed our plans however, with promises of severe thunderstorms, strong winds and flash flooding. My husband isn’t one to waste a weekend, so he quickly suggested we spend the rainy weekend repainting the boys bedrooms – something we’ve been putting off all summer. Of course, now I had a house full of disappointed kids and the task of clearing out their bedrooms for two days.
Well, when life hands you lemons… put them in a pretty bowl and go make some s’mores. At least, that’s what I like to say, because s’mores are usually better than lemonade. Since the boys couldn’t sleep in their rooms Saturday night anyway, I figured we might as well pitch a tent down in the basement, solving our sleeping problem and making up for the loss of an actual weekend outdoors at the same time. Once I started planning it was easy to turn the entire weekend into campfire inspired fun with very little effort. So, here are 5 simple steps to an awesome night of indoor camping:
1. Set the scene. If you have a tent and the space to put it up go right ahead! If you don’t grab some sleeping bags or good old fashioned pillows and blankets and toss them on the floor!
2. Make a fire. Once you’ve got sleeping arrangements squared away it’s time to make the room look a little more like a campsite, and you can’t do that without a fire. My husband was quick to come up with a fun (and kid safe) idea for an indoor campfire using just a couple of easy to find items – and the best part is that the kids can help with the assembly too!
All you need for a DIY fire-less campfire is:
– A small USB powered fan (this Opolar one is perfect as the fan head can be positioned to face upwards)
– Rayovac USB Phone Charger
– Red and yellow tissue paper
– Scissors & tape
We chose to go this route because a USB fan is small and portable and using a portable charger means we didn’t have to worry about any wires or plugs running through the area the kids would be sleeping in.
First, charge your portable power pack. Using the scissors cut small strips of red and yellow tissue paper, making them jagged and uneven looking, like a flame would be.
Bend the bottom of each strip and wrap them around the bars on the front of the fan, then wrap a very small piece of tape around the part of the tissue paper closest to the bar, securing it in place.
Once your’re done plug the USB fan into the charger and start your campfire!
3. Light up the night.
Of course, the camp fire isn’t giving us any actual light and my boys are terrified in the dark, so now we need to think about some real lighting. Since the kids are sleeping in this tent we didn’t want to run any wires through it, and recessed lighting wasn’t giving us that camping vibe, so we turned to our actual camping gear for a solution. Our Rayovac Indestructible 3-D LED Lantern turned out to be the perfect answer. If you’re a truly avid camper, like we are, you need to have at least one of these stashed away with your gear. This Rayovac Lantern is perfect for real life camping, emergency situations and for surviving the night with three boys who have just consumed their weight in s’mores.
It’s 100% waterproof and water submersible with an IPX7 rating (good for rain, floods, kayaking, fishing and hot chocolate mishaps) and drop tested to 15 feet, so we know it’s trail and kid proof. The Rayovac Indestructible Lantern has a 260 hour runtime (on the low setting) so you’re never left in the dark and a 530 Lumen LED light – so not only will you be able to see, you’ll be able to see just about everything in this lantern’s 26 meter beam distance.
The lantern has three settings – low, medium and high – making it ideal for every situation. The high setting will get you a super bright 530 lumens and the low setting will give you 68 lumens. Whenever we hit the trails this lantern is with us, but we keep it accessible at home too – it’s come in handy for everything from power outages to simply taking a walk at night. The low setting is perfect for lighting our way and keeping us visible to passing cars. Plus, I can let my kids carry it and I don’t have to worry every time they drop it or knock it over. And, on nights like tonight I get a little piece of mind because I know the lantern will remain lit all through the night, reassuring my boys whenever they wake up and it will hold up to any rough housing or accidents that may come it’s way. Oh, and you can grab this lantern for around $30, making it one of the more feature packed outdoor lanterns at this price point!
Now that we’ve got light and plenty of campsite atmosphere it’s really time to start thinking about feeding these guys…
4. Make the s’mores. All this planning makes a family hungry though, so we cooked up some hot dogs to eat around the “campfire”, then decided to make my favorite twist on a must have camping dessert – s’mores. Lacking actual fire to toast marshmallows over, a s’mores dip is a really fun way to enjoy this classic treat indoors. It’s also really simple to make! All you need is a bag of chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons of butter, a box of graham crackers, a bag of marshmallows and an oven safe dish.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the butter in the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the oven until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate chips and bake about five minutes. Remove the pan and top with marshmallows halves (or use mini marshmallows). Place them under the broiler for just a minute, watching constantly, until the marshmallows are toasted. Serve hot with graham cracker squares!
5. Even more s’mores. Since there is no such thing as too much s’mores when you’re camping I really felt like the night wouldn’t be complete without enjoying some S’mores Hot Chocolate around our little campfire. This is another really simple treat to make, and you probably have everything you need already. Just whip up some hot chocolate, then top each cup with whipped cream, a graham cracker square, a couple of pieces of chocolate, mini marshmallows and a handful of mini chocolate chips. You might want to keep some extra graham crackers on hand for dipping too!
Now pull out your favorite card games, board games and bedtime stories!
My guys were really loving the USB fan campfire…
And the hot chocolate, because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love some s’mores hot chocolate?
Drop me a line in the comments and let me know what activities you love when you’re camping with your family!