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When I was a child, exotic beach vacations were unheard of, and I had graduated from high school before I took my first plane ride. One of my fondest "vacation" memories from childhood is the summer my mother declared our home "Camp Ho." She set up a tent in the backyard and we spent an entire week camping—at home.

We invited the neighbor children over to roast hot dogs and marshmallows on our little charcoal grill and we lay on the grass at night, watching the stars. My mother took us to a nearby reservoir where we splashed in the water and explored the marine life.

We painted rocks, carved wood and made sundry other "camp" crafts. We learned to tie knots and even practiced starting a fire with—you guessed it—two sticks.

My mother taught me to enjoy the simple things, including family, nature and fun. As a family, we often went on spontaneous Sunday afternoon drives. As my dad said, "Let's just see where the road takes us." The road often took us to unexpected adventures—a spectacular rock formation, an old deserted house,an old-time ice cream shop.

Sometimes, I think we rob our children today by giving them too much stuff. We exhaust ourselves and empty our bank accounts planning fabulous vacations and over-the-top holidays, when all our kids really want is a tent in the backyard.

Here are a few tips for creating memories at home without breaking the budget or your sanity:

Transform your yard  into a forest sanctuary. If you already have an outdoor room or pergola, set up some camp chairs and sleeping bags and let the kids camp outdoors. Set up a camping tent,or make your own from canvas and sticks.

Stock up on fun foods , such as hot dogs and 'smores fixings. Using a [Link Removed] is a good way to safely cook the food as well as rest food and drinks on. Round out the meal with a few healthy snacks. Try homemade trail mix, apples with peanut butter or homemade fruit leather. Whip up some homemade ice pops with yogurt, pureed fruit and juice.

Find a large appliance box . Few things in life give you more value for your effort than an empty appliance box. As a child, I fashioned appliance boxes into dragons, space ships, pirate boats and robots. My siblings and I could spend several weeks squeezing every last ounce of fun out of one well-worn box.

Rent a projector  and have a movie night in the backyard. String up a sheet to show the movie on, cook up some popcorn and pull out the sleeping bags. Invite the neighborhood over for a night at the movies. Better yet, make it a slightly scary movie and follow it with slightly scary ghost stories.

Plan a few crafts.  The library is chock-full of craft books for children if you need inspiration. If you're the crafty type, head to your local craft store for affordable kits that take all the guesswork out of crafting.

Visit local museums.  Museums offer a great opportunity for exploration, usually at very reasonable prices. If you visit a museum or local attraction frequently, consider buying a membership. Members often advance notice on special engagements as well as discounts on food or gift shop items.

Read together.  I still remember the summer my mother read "Old Yeller" to us. Every afternoon for two weeks, we gathered on her bed where she read about the adventures of the yellow dog and his boy. Even my brother wept openly as we read the final chapter.

Mix things up.  Have breakfast for dinner, order pizza for breakfast. Stay in your pajamas. Let the kids do the planning. Give the kids $20 and ask them to plan an outing for you. This exercise builds their confidence, gets the creative juices flowing, and teaches them about careful financial planning.

Grow a garden together.  Growing a garden is one of the most joyful, meaningful experiences you can have with your children. First of all, playing in the dirt is just fun.

Teaching a child to care for a garden teaches responsibility and work ethic. And once the garden begins to bear fruit, your kids will have the satisfaction of knowing they had a hand in providing all that delicious produce. Picky eaters often become converted to vegetables when they taste the freshness of homegrown produce.


Fieryone, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.

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