Camping is one of my children’s top five activities. Even when it’s pouring outside, there’s nothing they love more than spending the night in a tent in the woods. By this time in the summer, my family likely would have participated in a couple of camping trips. But we have hardly left our home since March and don't feel safe going to a large campground. With no idea when we might venture out to a campground in the northwest again, my family made other arrangements.

The first moment I mentioned to my children that I would let them camp in the living room, they were overjoyed. I collected their sleeping bags and a small lantern. Meanwhile, they quickly gathered stuffed animals, water bottles, toothbrushes, three-days’ worth of clothing, and snacks. I helped them make a blanket fort in the living room, which they told me they intended to sleep in for three nights.

As exhausting as that thought was, I knew their world had changed as much as mine and this weekend of “camping” might bring them a shred of normalcy.

For those of you camping people, like my family, you may find solace in taking your tent into the backyard, or sleeping in your trailer for the night or simply letting your children “camp” in a blanket fort in the living room. We may not be able to travel much, but we can use our imaginations and ambitions to change our quarantine routine for just a few days. Some ambitious families might even consider taking in a local hike or bike ride during the day and then coming back home to “camp” at night. Cook a family camping meal and finish the night off with s’mores.

There are a number of virtual activities that can aid an at-home camping trip. The Washington State Parks Foundation has hosted multiple “Great Washington Camp-Out” events, which included video park ranger presentations, cooking segments, concerts and other programs you or your children might enjoy. All of these events are still available on the Washington State Parks Foundation YouTube page. The Boy Scouts of America also hosted a national camp-in event in May, the recording for which is still available online. The event featured virtual merit badge presentations, songs, scouting presentations and a virtual campfire. The Oregon State Parks Junior Ranger Program is also offering a virtual Junior Ranger challenge for kids stuck at home.

Learn more

Find the Washington State Parks Foundation Camp-Out recordings at go.sentinel.org/2ZggB9f. The recorded Boy Scouts of America camp-in is available at go.sentinel.org/2Tb47fa. Visit go.sentinel.org/3dPVcaQ to learn more about the Oregon State Parks Junior Ranger program.