You can now camp with the kids, with no packing, no driving, no paying for campsite rental, no questionable bathrooms, and you can sleep in your own bed.
My kids are 6, 4, 2 and 2, and they had a great time pretend camping. I think camping with them for real would be very unpleasant at this age, and the amount of packing i would have to do would be INSANE! :)
Step 1: Find Your Campsite.
If you don't have a backyard, you could go pretend camping anywhere: park, playground, you name it.
You don't need a tent. You can just hang up a string and a tarp, or just lay out a blanket and "sleep" under the "stars".
Step 2: Go for a "nature Hike"
Step 3: S'mores !
I added a little dry grass, it caught on fire, and browned out marshmallow a bit. While the kids were swimming, I made a little cooker from some tinfoil. It got the marshmallows a little hot, but then it got cloudy. The microwave comes in handy at this point. :)
Make sure you teach them not to look at the sun through the magnifying glass, not to focus the light on each other, not to start any real fires, etc. This can also be a good lesson on why it's important to wear sunscreen. If the sun can cook some food, imagine what it can do to your skin.
Step 4: Swimming in the "lake"
This was a good chance to cool off. Emma got to try out her new snorkel. She was looking for "fish".
Step 5: Hunting and Gathering
We also had fun foraging for food in the garden. We found some delicious green beans. (obviously, only eat what you know is edible.)
Step 6: Fishing
Step 7: Have Fun!
The key is to have fun, and use you imagination. The kids come up with amazing ideas. I never would have thought to make a bow and arrow.
You can sit around your "campfire", sing camp songs, and tell stories while you eat your s'mores.
Then, when the kids get tired and cranky, home is only a few steps away. They can go inside, enjoy some air conditioning, and watch a little TV. :)
Have fun camping.!