Camping Party

Camping 3yr - Fish at the Lodge




Sheri in Crystal Lake, Il  USA


February 2002



CAMPING THEME For my son's third birthday party, we decided to go with the camping theme since he was so much into wildlife at the time.

We started with our invitations as a photo of Jacob (close up of just his face) cut into a circle and taped on a piece of blank paper, I then drew around it so that his body was that of a mountain lion.  We then added a poem that read: Lions and tigers and bears; that is all I have spoken of this year, these creatures are what I adore; to be one would be so much more! To live in the wild would be such a dream; but for now it will be my birthday theme, So come to my party with your camping gear; and beware for Jake the lion is sure to be there! We then included our address and RSVP information and put a P.S. at the bottom that stated that the camping gear was to simply have the children bring their school backpacks for events to follow.

As we decorated the house, we did the inside and outside due to unpredictable weather. For the inside, we simply decorated the basement with borrowed items from my parents who have a Northern Woods theme in their house. I had my basement decorated like a lodge with fishing items such as wood plaques saying "Welcome to my lodge", etc. Fishing rods, fishing oars, wood ducks, basically anything that you would decorate a Northern Woods or Lodge room with.  I purchased only ONE thing for decorating and that was red and black checkered fleece fabric that I used for the table cloths.  I chose to invest in this because it could be recycled later for a blanket in his room. The outside was fun to decorate because I am a woodcutter and it was simple to whip up some signs.  You could do this as well with just cardboard for a temporary thing. I had different sections in my yard due to my yard being somewhat large. I first had a fishing area so here is where I made a sign that said "To the lake".  I made it look like a sign that might hang in a Nature Park or Campsite. 

Then, for the lake, I just put a little plastic pool that we had in the yard and a few (real) lake fish that my son had caught the day before (we still planned on throwing them back in the lake after the party), for this you could purchase just one goldfish or whatever type from the petstore. By the lake I also made up a "LAKE RULES AND REGULATIONS SIGN" and on the sign I basically put everything that you would see in a beach/lake area.  It read, NO SWIMMING ALLOWED NO TOSSING OR THROWING OF ANY ITEMS INTO THE LAKE NO FISHING PERMITTED WITHOUT LICENSE etc. This sign was staked into the ground. My other area of the yard was the "Wild life observation area", here is where our pet bunny rabbit that we kept outside came in handy.  I also made a sign that said "Please do not feed the bears" and that was staked into the ground where I placed several of our brown or black teddy bears that we have accumulated throughout the years.

I also made a "PICNIC AREA" sign, here is where I set up picnic tables for the kids and the grill for dad to later barbecue.   Another sign was "LODGING" and that was cut into an arrow and staked into the ground pointing to our house from the yard.   Another sign was a "CAMPING" sign, this was also shaped into an arrow and that pointed to the tent which we put up in the yard. The last sign was a "SWIMMING" sign, this was an arrow that pointed to the pool that we had set up for the kids.

On our front and back doors of the house we used cardboard to make signs that we could tape to the doors that read LODGING/RESTROOMS On the bathroom doors in the house we made his and her people on cardboard and taped them to the doors. It looked awesome. For the extras in the yard, I had a tape player playing in the yard that had the 'sounds of nature' playing and there was an owl sound in the tape so I again, borrowed a plastic owl that my mother had used as a backyard lawn ornament.  That owl was placed in the tree and the children really thought that the owl that they heard was coming from the plastic owl. I had a plastic croaking frog that was sensory operated so when you walked past it, it croaked.  I also had faux snakes and any other fake animals I could borrow from peoples yard to make it look more real.

Once the guests arrived (which were relatives so it was children of all ages and adults), the kids first played Pin the tail on the lion and again, I made it on posterboard and simply blew up a picture of my son's face and drew out a lion around him and made the tail out of construction paper. Once everyone was done, we handed out a 'Hiking Route' to all the kids.  This was to be age appropriate for all the kids so what I did was made a trail of stops that we had to follow.  I made the trail out on a piece of paper and drew paw prints as our guide to follow.  We had to follow the paw prints to each site and because all the children could not read, I drew a picture of a bunny, a picture of a bear, an owl, a snake and a fish.  We put on our backpacks, took our trail guide and followed the map to each site.  When we found the site, there were little treats waiting for all the kids there (at each one), they would put the treats in their backpacks and anxiously went to the next site once they figured out goodies were there.  This not only was a fun game, but it filled their backpacks and served as our party favor goody bags as well!!!!

Once the kids got to the lake, the game was to catch a fish.  We did not want to put the fish through the abuse of a hook each time plus all the kids would have been hooking each other and taking FOREVER, so we used an aquarium net and it was all we needed.  Each child got a chance to fish with the net in the pool and try to catch the fish.  Once they caught it, we handed them their treat.  They really enjoyed doing this and it was something that everyone could do of all ages.

Once the games were over the kids had a blast playing in the tent while we got the grill going. We served hotdogs and brats on the grill just like if you were camping. All the salads were served in plastic containers or pots to give the same camping feel.  Our tableware was recycled pie tins for plates and the cups were old soup cans.  We have a can opener with the 'safe top opener' so that there was no fear of cutting any of the guests mouth.( With a black permanent marker we had put names on everyone's cup so that we had no problem with needing extra cups or accidentally sharing). After dinner guests retired into the lodge for a while and then we served the cake. 

This was really the neat part. I made a sheet cake and then added green food coloring to the frosting to make it the color of grass.  I frosted the cake green and then I used blue food gel and decorated the top with a little lake in the corner.  I happen to save all of my children's little people that they get from McDonalds or wherever, so I happened to have Little Bear standing by the lake.  I then made  (in another corner) a bonfire.  For this I used bon-bon candies as the rocks to circle the bonfire and I used red cellophane and pinched it and stuck it in the center of the bonfire to make it look like flames. I also put a tent on the cake from our Lincoln logs set and I had a little figure I found at the craft store of a tiny man in a boat so I placed him in the water. For the candles, I just put three candles in the center of the bonfire by the cellophane and that served as my fire. It was a neat party, one of my least expensive due to borrowing and recycling and DEFINITELY one of my most creative. 

We had lots of fun. All of his birthday gifts were centered around his interests at the time so it was neat to watch him receive a 1st fishing pole, net, tackle box and life jacket.  Some got him a canteen and other outdoor items as well.  It was a great time.

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