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Upcycle for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! With our young kiddoes still celebrating Valentine’s Day in their school classrooms, valentine’s boxes are still an annual necessity at their age. Our THiNK OUTSiDE family is a BiG proponent of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” slogan and generally look for ways that we can reduce our impact on the environment. So I loved that my son wanted to repurpose his THiNK OUTSiDE cardboard box as his valentine box. Especially today, on a morning when he tells me, “But Mom, our Valentine’s Day party is today, not Monday. My box isn’t ready.” Insert don’t-panic-just-figure-it-out emoji face here.

Needless to say, our morning was a little busy as I had confused the painted THiNK OUTSiDE cardboard box as his valentine box. That was not the casethat was his sister‘s project, hence all the cute pink and red hearts. Thinking we would be too rushed for time, I tried to do the whole parent thing where you attempt to convince your child “this one is just as cool” referencing his older sister’s box. Unsuccessful. 

“Umm, that one has hearts on it, I don’t want hearts on my box.” 

He would’ve been perfectly fine taking just a basic THiNK OUTSiDE box with no décor. But, since I totally missed the fact that his party was today, I figured I should probably try to make it up to him. Off to the internet for quick inspiration! We did a quick search of “Boys Valentine’s Day Boxes”. So many options and all so cute! However, it only took a few seconds for him to determine he needed a valentine-eating-monster box. The funny thing, we were actually able to use items directly from his February Shelter box, with a few other items from past boxes to pull this off in only 15 minutes!

So for any of you other parents out there that are like me (bad with calendars and quick with back-up plans), here’s a fun way to use some of your THiNK OUTSiDE items to create your own valentine-eating-monster box!




Follow the directions and see images below to create your own fun valentine box character!
  1. Start by having your child draw a circle on the top of the box for where the mouth should go.
  2. Fully cut out the circle (this is where the cards can be inserted into). 
  3. Next, poke 2 holes on the back green edge of the box (“X” marks the spot!).
  4. Meanwhile, ask your child to cut out triangles or a “mountain range” that will become the monster’s teeth.
  5. The teeth can be glued or taped onto the black paper as the monster’s teeth. Just make sure they are close enough to show through where the mouth has been cut out on the box. Tip: We had white sticker labels that I had my son use to make it super easy to just stick on the black paper.
  6. Once the teeth are set, you can tape the black paper to the inside of the box. Tape only on the top half near the lid’s fold. 
  7. For the eyes, help your child thread the pipe cleaners through each hole on the back edge of the box.
  8. Place the craft balls on each pipe cleaner and bend the wires so that they hold the eyes up.
  9. Now close the box and wrap it in foil, duct tape, or any other material you might have sitting around to give your monster a fun flash of color!
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Happy Campers

What better way to practice the shelter building and survival skills you learned in this month’s THiNK OUTSiDE Shelter box than to take a family camping trip?  Follow the tips below to make a camping trip fun and enjoyable for the whole family.

Find Your Spot

The first step to an enjoyable camping trip is selecting the right type of trip for your family. What level of adventure are you feeling? From multi-day backpacking trips to living room pillow forts, there are lots of options to choose from for your family’s camping fun.

The most experienced and adventurous may want to try backcountry camping – hiking, biking or kayaking to a remote spot to spend the night. More moderate campers, may choose to spend the night at a campsite in a tent or an RV. Those who want to get away but have all the comforts of home can try glamping in a cabin, yurt or tree house.

Choose the one that’s right for your family based on your comfort, skill level, location and equipment. Practicing in the backyard or at a local campground can be a good idea for your first camping trip in case someone can’t make it through the night.

Keeping Busy and Having Fun

Camping is a fun and exciting family adventure but you won’t be surprised to hear that kids can lose interest quickly. Be sure to have lots of activities available to keep them busy and you from hearing, “I’m booooored.” Camping with friends always helps make the trip more fun for everyone, too.

  • Help with camp setup. It’s never too early to start teaching kids the essentials of setting up camp so get them involved with age-appropriate tasks. Clear debris off of the tent site. Collect sticks and logs for firewood. Help set up the tent. Organize the food and supplies. Scope out the bathrooms, garbage and recreation areas.
  • Outdoor activities. Bring along or rent supplies for some of your kids’ favorite activities as well as a few new things to try. Biking, fishing, throwing ball, kayaking, hiking, geocaching, corn hole, stand up paddle boarding, snow shoeing, bird watching, swimming, and our favorite this month – practicing your shelter building. The possibilities are endless.
  • Indoor activities. There is also lots of fun to have in your shelter and you may need to if you catch some bad weather. Play games and cards, read, do crafts, tell stories, play music, draw. While I prefer to keep electronics put away as much as possible on a camping trip, pulling out your device for a family movie can be a good option when everyone starts to get tired.
  • Campfire. And, of course, you can’t have a camping trip without a campfire (or lantern or fireplace if you’re in your living room). Let your kids practice their fire building and fire safety skills, gather more firewood (you can never have too much), cook over the fire, make s’mores, play music, sing, tell stories, and watch the stars.

Happy Campers, Not Hangry Campers

marshmallows and chocolate bar on brown wooden board

We want happy campers, not hangry campers. Be sure to pack lots of food and drinks for the family. Will you eat all of your meals at the campsite, pack some to eat while hiking or boating, or pick a few meals to eat out if there’s a nearby restaurant?

Bring the staples you know your family will eat but have fun and try some new foods over the fire as well. You’d be surprised how much you can cook with a skillet and a fire. My family’s favorite is mountain pies. Pack a few snacks that are special treats that you don’t normally eat at home.

Don’t forget about s’mores! Will you go traditional s’mores or will you try some new variations? Oreos instead of graham crackers? Peanut butter cups instead of chocolate bars? Add some strawberries? Yum!

Staying Safe and Comfortable

Having the right equipment is key to a successful trip to make sure everyone is comfortable and safe. Know what’s available at your site before you go – bathroom facilities, water source, fire ring, picnic table, etc. Check out this camping checklist from REI to get you started. Remember that you can borrow or rent gear as you get started to keep your trip more affordable.

Camping can be scary. Bring along items to help your kids feel safe and secure. If they sleep with a favorite stuffed animal, make sure it comes along for the trip. Let each person have their own flashlight or headlamp for getting around in the dark and to keep next to them in the tent. (I suggest a headlamp for those nighttime bathroom visits!)

Follow proper precautions for your campsite and follow all posted rules concerning food storage, animal safety and waste disposal. And always remember the The Leave No Trace Seven Principles when enjoying the outdoors.

Want Free Gear?

Check out our THiNK OUTSiDE Giveaways page for current offers. Now through March 14, 2021, enter to win up to $700 worth of gear including a full-year subscription, tent, sleeping bag and hammock!

Happy camping!