You don’t need to cart along with easels, hundreds of tubes of paints, a fretsaw, and a loom in order to do crafts during a camping trip or picnic. You also don’t need to pay for organized activities. Part of the creativity and fun is seeing what you can make and do with what is already there. Free or nearly free ideas to get you started are:
A nice thing to do on a summer picnic is to make garlands of flowers to wear. You pick daisies, keeping the stem at least two inches long, then make a slit with your fingernail. This last part can be tricky for small children, so you might want to help them. Then you simply thread one daisy onto another until you have a chain.
Common daisies are the only flowers suitable for this activity. It simply won’t work with most, as their stems are either too fragile or too tough. More importantly, unless you’re a botanist, you won’t know whether the flowers you are picking are from common weeds or highly endangered wildflowers. Lawn daisies are easy to recognize, common, and easy to use. Leave all others where they are.
Bows and arrows
You need a bit of string and a penknife, but everything else is already there. Effective, if not very accurate, archery sets can be made with a few twigs and are perfect for aspiring Robin Hoods. The bow needs to be made of a very supple twig about 3-4 feet long. Sycamore is perfect.
After removing excess twigs and leaves (the bark can be left on), you create a tight bow with a length of the string. The arrows are made from shorter, thinner, and more rigid straight twigs. Attaching a couple of feathers at one end of an arrow and sharpening the point makes it fly better.
While these sets are unlikely to be powerful enough to really hurt anybody, you should still remember to tell your children not to aim in the direction of other people or animals.
These are an exciting, and very active, way to cool off after a picnic or long sticky walks on a camping trip. The rules are very simple – your aim is to soak everybody else without getting too wet yourself. You can use water pistols or better and more simply just fill up containers with water.
Generally, it’s best to use plastic containers since there is a good chance people will get carried away and throw more than the water. Obviously, this is not something to do when there are water shortages but great fun if you are near a river or pool.
There are hundreds of other activities you can do when outside that cost nothing and need minimal materials. You can do bark rubbings, go bug watching, climb trees, play drawing games, have nature trail competitions, make straw animals, and countless more. Have a rough idea of perhaps one energetic activity and one quiet one before you go, then use your imagination.