Fun doesn't have to be far from home this summer. Transforming your backyard to create a space for camping, star-gazing or "drive-in" outdoor movie nights is often easy and inexpensive -and it's literally a few steps away.
Tom Hageman, manager at Dunham's Sports at the River Valley Mall, has an extensive list of games and activities for families to do outside without spending a lot of money.
Everyone loves outdoor films, right? Turn the backyard into a drive-in movie theater, complete with popcorn, Milk Duds and family-friendly releases from the local movie rental facility. Kids and adults alike will love watching their favorite movies under the stars. The key to this one is having a projector to display the movie on a blank wall or onto a blank sheet on the wall. Some companies even rent projectors out for the weekend for recreational use. Get some neighbors together, invite the kids, and kick back with the perfect drive-in movie that took no driving at all.
Or for dads who need more toys, or families who want a fancier outdoor movie experience than just a sheet hanging from a tree, there are companies that will sell ready-to-use, high-tech outdoor cinema systems
complete with inflatable screen, projector, speakers, the works.
Another idea is to turn the backyard into your family's personal water park. Boch, president of Pleasantville Elementary parent teacher organization, said her children love playing in the hose when the weather heats up. Another pastime is slip-and-slide toys, typically sold at stores such as Wal-Mart and Meijer.
Add a sprinkler, some water balloons and squirt guns onto that and you've got a wet and wild party just outside the back door. Compare the price of items to what it would cost for a pool pass or tickets to the nearest water park to make sure you're still getting a deal.
Here's a two-pronged activity that involves the whole family -and then some. Try creating life-size board games or card games, suggested Kirsten Stratton, secretary at Hug-a-Bear Day Care in Lancaster.
"Instead of having the small ones you play at the table, they're big ones, like poster-size cards," Stratton said.
Families will not only have fun creating the giant cards, but playing with them in the yard will be a blast too, she said.
And what about camping? All it takes is a tent and some essential s'mores ingredients and you're ready for a full night of ghost stories and star-gazing.
Backyard camping is a true bargain compared to leaving the county, Hageman said.
"Essentials you're going to need in the backyard are so much fewer than if you go into the woods because you can always run back into the house," he said.
Source: "Good times are as close as the backyard" by Morgan Day -The Eagle-Gazette. Read full article at: http://www.lancastereaglegazette.com/article/20090614/NEWS01/906140319/1002/Good-times-are-as-close-as-the-backyard