Camping Birthday Adventure
My son has had some pretty cool birthday parties in the past. While the robot, pirate and rocket parties were huge successes, I wanted this year to be a little different. Partly because the thought of a dozen 7 year old boys wreaking havoc in my home wasn’t appealing, and partly because my husband begged me to simplify a little this year.
So the focus of this birthday was the adventure of going camping–and my son was thrilled about it. We invited several families to go on a Labor Day campout with us, and held his birthday party one evening there.
To simplify and to keep costs down, I tried to decorate as much as possible with things found at the campsite, and didn’t put everything together until we were there. I had cut the letters for the birthday banner with my Silhouette before leaving, but assembled the banner there using twine, pinecones, oak leaves, and pine needles. It said “Camp Trenton.”
BSB really wanted me to simplify the cake. He thought we could just stick a candle in some dutch oven cobbler and call it good–until we decided the candle would melt.
I was pretty heart-set on making this S’more cake as seen on Not Just a Housewife. I followed the directions on Stacy’s site for the giant graham cracker (making a line down the middle by lightly pressing the dough with a wooden skewer). I used two layers of 8″ round cake. The directions are easy to follow. The biggest challenge I had was making this ahead of time and transporting it to the campout.
I had found a delicious recipe for marshmallow frosting that I thought would be perfect, and probably would have been, if I had been making the cake shortly before serving it. I tried to transport the frosting to camp, but it completely lost it’s consistency. A friend at the camp-out saved the day by bringing me some store-bought vanilla frosting for me to use as I assembled the cake. The number 7 candle had a toothpick on the bottom, so worked well to stick through thee cracker top of the S’mores.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I failed to take close-up pictures of the rest of the table. I served blue bug juice (Gatorade and Sprite mixed), had a s’more station for later, and had a make your own trail mix, where guests (of all ages) could pick their favorite nuts and fruits and put them in a paper lunch sack for later.
Aside from the natural elements, the color scheme was inspired by this fun orange and blue plaid fabric I found at Hobby Lobby and these great and functional vintage-style blue Lanterns. I got mine on Amazon, but have seen some similar ones at Walmart.
One thing I had hoped to do before leaving was make a cool camp shirt for the birthday boy. I didn’t get a chance so simple took a brown painters pen with me and hand drew my design. It isn’t perfect, but it gives it more of a rustic camping feel that way, right?
The plain orange shirt came from the Dollar Store so was really inexpensive to make.
Perhaps, the coolest (and surprisingly easy to do) part of this whole birthday was the GPS geo-cacheing birthday treasure hunt we sent the birthday boy on.
While he was on a quad ride with our friends, BSB and I went up the hill behind the campsite and hid the presents. At each location, he would set that point on the GPS.
We would hide the presents and then cover them with extra rocks, bark or branches, so that they would not be visible to him with his eyes and he would need to use the GPS and a little elbow grease to find the presents. BSB set the points on the GPS and Trenton just had to follow the series of coordinates already programmed into the GPS. (See how easy! No rhyming or coded clues. Just one gadget he was so excited to use!)
My mom–the miracle worker–whipped up (sewed) and shipped this amazing scout pack to me at last minute notice. We filled it with some basic camping gear like a nice water bottle, etc.
He happily put on and wore his pack for the duration of the hunt.
His sisters had fun getting in on the action, too.
At one GPS location he found this cool shaped rock his big sister had painted for him in a rather artsy way.
Thanks to his other grandma, there were several brightly wrapped packages to find.
We took advantage of a survival shelter left over from boy scout camp to hide this present.
When all the treasures were found, we came back to camp to enjoy a hot dog dinner, make smores, unwrap presents, etc.
I decided that it was appropriate to have a Fishing Hole at the party! We strung up a blue tarp and made a make shift fishing pole and let all of the kids and a few adults go fishing a few times. They mainly ended up with some fun glow in the dark accessories, which was perfect since it was getting dark.
I think the birthday boy and all of our friends had a great time, and we had a great time camping!
I have to show you this little wood “table” BSB constructed while we were camping, because it almost became part of the birthday party.
We were really low on space in the car (turns out hauling 6 people in a van doesn’t leave a lot of room for gear) and BSB didn’t want to haul up a table for the party display. He offered to lash me a table between two trees. Which would have been completely awesome.
But he decided to do a test run on this little table that served as our water station. It was amazing, but took half of the day to complete, so we luckily were about to borrow a folding table for the party stuff. Still, nice to know that if we were stranded in the woods for a length of time, my man could make me some cool furniture.
And just one last shot for fun to show you the tremendously cute obstacle we had to overcome while trying to take down camp. Apparently it’s most fun to sit on something when someone else is trying to put it away.
Have you ever done a destination birthday like this? Do you prefer a party in your own backyard? It was a nice change of pace for us and a great time to make some family memories and get to know some of our friends better. I collected lots of great camping birthday party ideas on this Pinterest Board. You also might be interested in the packaged smores we put together to celebrate his birthday at school.