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Child’s Play: How to make backyard camping a fun adventure


Each week, Child's Play offers an activity guaranteed to combat the summer-break blahs.

Kids love camping. It has the air of grand adventure, feels a little risky and is a blast – playing with flashlights in the tent is way more fun than watching TV. If you have a tent or can borrow one, set it up in the backyard on a night when no rain is predicted.

No tent? No problem. On a night with zero chance of precipitation, you can improvise. Raid the linen closet with your kids and use sheets to build a shelter.

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Use bulldog clips to attach light rope to the sheets, tying the rope around trees or whatever else is available. If you have a tarp with grommets, so much the better. Make sure there's a flashlight for every child sleeping in the tent. And make a plan for what the kids should do if they need you during the night – give them a cellphone to call you, or leave the back door open.

Before they bed down for the night, make banana boats on the barbecue. To do it, take a banana with the skin still on and slice it length-wise, but don't pierce the skin on the bottom.

Lay the split banana on a large piece of tin foil and open the banana like a book. Sprinkle a generous handful of chocolate chips on the banana, and line up three or four marshmallows on top of the chocolate chips. Then fold up the banana, squishing the chocolate chips and marshmallows inside it, and wrap the whole package in several layers of tin foil.

Place the wrapped banana on a hot barbecue for about 20 minutes, flipping it halfway through.

Then unwrap and eat with a spoon (careful not to burn yourself!): The marshmallows, chocolate chips and banana should have melted into a nice goo; if not, rewrap and stick it back on the barbecue for a few more minutes.

Joanne Kates is the director of Camp Arowhon in Algonquin Park

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