This Wednesday is the Challenge to End All Challenges! Tonight is not only our annual End of Summer Backyard Campout …It’s also the night in which the kids are supposed to perform their Cover Songs on Guitar and screen their homemade Short Films that Scare Us! We’re excited more than we’ve ever been before! And we think we’re ready for our biggest and best ever backyard campout! Fitting way to end the summer, no?
Okay, so, yeah, we know. We’re just not into top 10 lists. And, neither are you!
But, this one’s an essential!
10 Ways to Throw the Best Ever End of Summer Backyard Campout!
1. Warn your neighbours [or invite them]. If you know you’re going to be making a fuss in your backyard, especially on a weeknight, you’ll probably want to let your neighbours know about it in advance. Our rule of thumb is that if you’re not inviting them, you’re better off giving about 24-48 hours notice of your weeknight party to your neighbours. Give them any more time than that, and they may ask you to change your plans. Less than that, and they won’t have time to organize themselves around your noise or come up with ways to cope with their little ones’ envy. A little note in the mailbox, maybe with a cute pair of sleep pretty in pink earplugs from well.ca will do a world of wonders. They might even turn off their super-bright back door security lights for once so you can actually enjoy your movie and your starlight even more! Also, be wary of your local bylaws regarding noise. Your neighbours probably do have a right to complain past 10 o’clock, even if you’ve done your best to charm them with those pretty earplugs.
2. Glamp it up! Pitch as luxe a tent as possible in your backyard. Then beg, borrow, or buy some large air mattresses to go inside that tent. Or, skip the tent entirely! Put some plastic tarps down beneath your air mattresses. [Make sure to use indoor-outdoor cords for all of the blowup.] Use clean, washer-friendly pillows and bedding instead of sleeping bags. And maybe use some of your patio umbrellas to shade your sleeping space! Then, go ahead and protect the area by using those bug zappers, mosquito coils, netting, and natural sprays! Might be a good night to protect yourself by wearing a onesie, too! [Dear Pook, please send us four of these, s.v.p! 1 Large Red, 1 Medium Pink, 1 Small Pink and 1 XS Red!]
Photos by Thomas J. Story for Sunset Magazine.
3. Mark your pathways! It’s going to get dark outside! So, put strings of lights on a handy indoor/outdoor power strip accessible from your main entry points to the house, deck, or yard. Grab this glow-in-the-dark tape from Canadian Tire to create a pathway from where you’re sleeping up to the door of the house or even all the way to the powder room. Use LED candles near your “camp site” and your dining areas during the darker hours. And, hand out cheap and cheerful flashlights or headlamps to the family. Just don’t use sparklers, kay, or fireworks! Don’t set fire to yourselves, people!
4. Set up your signature drinks! Set up a cocktail station or booth [even a tray on a log will do!] and create a signature cocktail for both the kids and the adults. Our new favourite summer drink for kids is our own strawberry kefir. For adults, we are partial to Feast and West’s Elderflower Rose Gimlet or our own Summer of Funner Catcher in the Northern Rye!
5. Grill quick pizzas or order take-out! August is hot. And we don’t want to do too much fussing with the grill. So, we’ll do one of two things: Either, we’ll prepare our fave Turkish Pizza Pides ahead of time and throw them on a pizza stone set on a hot gas grill. Or, we’ll organize a barbecue fake-out and order take-out from Hogtown Smoke. Now’s also a great time to pick up all of the cute summer reusable cups and plates and cloths on super discount at your local grocer, hardware, department, and specialty store.
6. Make your own music. Loud music outside is usually pretty annoying, both to party guests trying to talk to one another and to neighbours near and far. Instead, spend a short period of time singing and playing your own music, say, after dinner, but before it’s dark enough to screen your films. This year, we prepared ahead of time by issuing the kids a Guitar Cover Song Challenge. A month ago, we asked them to learn how to play enough guitar to accompany themselves singing a cover song. We’ll see how that goes! Not all that musical? You can always clap or play harmonica to “Oh Canada” or make up extra lyrics for Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
7. Project a movie! One of the best ways to spend a late summer evening is to watch a film projected on the back deck or side wall of a house. So beg, borrow, or buy a multi-media projector for the night. [We borrow ours from a nearby office.] Then, hang a sheet on the fence and throw up your old computer speakers from the 90’s, and you’re in business. Have a themed Film Fest [as we’ve been doing all summer], or pretend you’re at Cannes or TIFF and air the movies you asked the kids to film a few weeks ago when you challenged them to Make a Short Film the Scares Us! Now, if you’re worried about bothering your neighbours or having the cops show up at your house [it’s happened to all of us], beg, borrow or buy enough pairs of bluetooth headsets for everyone in your group.
8. Skip the S’mores and go for a cooler full of cheapee ice cream novelties! Need we say more? Ouch!
9. Skip the ghost stories and go for stargazing. Sure, even at our previous outdoor camp outs, we told each other ghost stories. But what better story starter is there than a constellation or even an unidentified single star? Talk about your wishes. Dream new worlds! Invent their poetry!
10. So what, now? You’ve had your party, you’ve bundled up on your air mattress, and things still don’t feel right? Don’t fight it. Tidy up what you can in the dark and go back to your own bed! [Just don’t leave the kids outside alone!] That’s right! After all that work, and all that play, don’t be afraid to sleep indoors!