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"When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" (Psalms 8:3-4)
The sun is just setting on the horizon. It's so bright that it's hard to look at—a brilliant ball of fire. Soon, beautiful streaks of oranges, reds, and pinks stretch across the sky as the sun sinks lower, eventually fading into the dark colors of night.
Then, as if appearing from out of nowhere, the moon is there. Its comforting light shines across the land, making the trees a puzzle of shapes around you. As you sit comfortably on a fallen log, crickets and frogs begin to sing. Their melodious voices sing words only God can understand. Fireflies weave in and out of the grass.
Ouch! A mosquito bit you!
Okay, swat the mosquito and sit back again.
One by one, thousands of stars appear to twinkle and shine in the blackened sky. Your mom points out the Big Dipper, and it only takes a few more minutes for you to find the Little Dipper.
The fire is getting low, so your dad stirs it up a bit and adds another couple of logs. Sparks jump out and dance upward, and the crackling of the flames makes you burrow deeper inside your blanket. Your mom brings out a brown paper bag, and you sit up eagerly. You know what is inside. Marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. You sigh peacefully.
Ahhh . . . camping.
Does this scene bring back memories of one of your own camping trips or make you anticipate discovering such trips for the first time? Summer is a perfect opportunity to go camping with your family. Whether you camp with a backpack and a bedroll, a tent, or a camper, it's all the same—enjoying God's creation with those you love.
But how can you possibly enjoy sleeping underneath the stars, cooking over a campfire, or hiking along hidden paths without the opportunity to learn while you're at it? Let's get started!
Math & Science
• Make a notebook and categorize the different varieties of trees you see. Tape a leaf to the page and see if you can find insects or birds that are using your tree for food or a home.
• Have you ever wondered how tall a tree is? There are several ways you can calculate the height of just about any tall object. One of the easiest ways is the Shadow Method. For this approach, you'll need to know your exact height when you're wearing shoes. Then, find the tree you want to measure. This method works best if the tree is on a level, sunny area.
First, measure your own shadow and write down its length. This will give you the opportunity to calculate the ratio between the height of an object and the shadow it's casting. Next, measure the shadow of the tree from its base all the way to the tip of the shadow. Now all you need to do is take the length of the tree's shadow, multiply it by your own height, and divide that number by the length of your shadow. The result should be the height of the tree! To learn about some other ways to measure trees, visit www.wikihow.com/Measure-the-Height-of-a-Tree
• If you are near a pond, lake, or river, take a sample of its water and bring it home to examine under a microscope.
• Bring along a compass and learn how to use it correctly.
There are so many activities you can do while camping. Besides your favorites, try some of these ideas:
• Make a treasure hunt. Look for pine needles, different shaped leaves, rocks, sticks, pine cones etc.
• Go for a hike with a book on birds and see how many you can identify.
• Learn the different techniques for building a campfire and try a different one each night to discover which works the best.
Did you know that there are a lot of campers in the Bible? The Israelites camped for forty years in the wilderness. Jesus did not have a home, so He and His disciples very likely had to "camp out" during the night, cooking over fires. What about all the years Abraham and his family moved from place to place, living in tents?
Can you think of anyone else? Who do you think was a responsible camper? Can you find the passages in the Bible and read them? Can you find verses that remind you of camping in God's creation? Psalm 104:16-19 reads,"The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted; Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies. He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down."
• Kids Camp: Activities for the Backyard or Wilderness by Laurie Carlson. An outstanding resource book filled with fun and easy activities for your camping unit!
• Kids Outdoors by Victoria Logue, Frank Logue, and Mark Carroll. One of the most wide-ranging books on outdoor skills and camping available for kids. Has all the practical information a kid needs, from setting up camp and building a fire to cooking and equipment care.
• Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping by Peggy Parish.
• Backyard Camp-Out Book by Douglas Love. Provides ideas for activities to enhance backyard camping experiences and demonstrate the connection between nature and science. Also includes safety tips and several recipes.
• Cooking on a Stick: Campfire Recipes for Kids by Linda White.
knapsack, compass, rain fly, stake, cot, tripod, oar, hatchet, canteen, binoculars, lantern, tarp
Fill a notebook with all the sights and sounds you encountered on your camping trip. Make a journal and write about what you did and where you went. Did you go hiking? What did you see? How many miles did you walk? Did you go swimming? What did you eat?
Going camping gives us an opportunity to see God's creation up close. Take a few minutes, whether you are camping, going for a walk, mowing the lawn, or weeding the garden, to enjoy the sounds of the birds singing and feel the grass growing beneath your feet. God created all of nature for His enjoyment—and He has graciously given us the senses to enjoy it as well.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Giovanna-Graf
Paula Miller is a children's author, freelance writer, and homeschooling mom. She and her husband Travis live in south central Minnesota with their 4 sons. You can read more about Paula's Faces in History Series for children 7 and up by visiting www.paulajmiller.com
This article was originally published in the May/June 2008 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Visit http://homeschoolenrichment.com/ to request a FREE sample issue today!