A Modern Resurgence of Vintage Pastimes

As the buzz over the technology revolution is settling down and becoming less of a novelty, the past couple of years have seen a resurgence of vintage, or traditional pastimes.  The world keeps spinning faster, and everyone’s eyes seem to be opening to the need for relaxation.  Gone are the days of the glorification of “busy”.  They are being replaced with the art of slow living.

The Resurgence of Vintage Pastimes

One of the most popular vintage pastimes that’s resurfaced seems to be whittling.  What do you think of when you picture whittling?  Perhaps what pops up in your head is an old man in a rocking chair on a front porch, carving a piece of wood, with an ice-cold beverage nearby.  His grandson sits in a chair next to him whittling his own stick of wood, keeping up a steady stream of chatter.  As the sun sinks lower in the sky, their wood pieces start to come to life.  The scene is idyllic, peaceful, and relaxing.

The history of whittling really begins in early Americana.  With only the use of a pocket knife and good, soft wood; crafty folks could whittle just about anything.  A couple of main things that have changed with the pastime since then is the quality of the knives and the selection of specialty blade shapes available.  The craft has become easier and more enjoyable than ever before.

If you’re looking for a way to wind down after a busy day, or to connect with your children or grandchildren, your search is over.  JMCremps has a large selection of knives, thumb guards, whittling & woodcarving books, and kits to get you started or keep you going with one of the best hobbies out there.

What are you waiting for?  Throw away your worries for a moment so you can sit back and relax while creating something beautiful.  Spend some quality time with someone you love. Connect with the past while living fully in the present.  There’s a reason this pastime is coming back, and I think if you give it a try you just might become an advocate of the art of slow living.

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How to Build the Perfect Snow Fort for Kids

Winter is full swing, and for many of you, the snow banks are piled high.  The holidays are over, school is back in session, and spring seems a million years off.  About now, cabin fever may be setting in.  The kids are tired of playing outside, and you’re tired of the kids playing inside.  This is the time to kick-up the outdoor fun a notch and show your kids how to build the best snow fort on the block.  Show them how to do it right, do it safely, and to do it with some style.  The next thing you know, you’ll be serving hot chocolate in the fort instead of the kitchen!

This simple video, narrated by kids and made for kids, shows you just how easy it is to build a basic snow fort:

NOTE:  It is important to remember to make sure that they maintain the thickness of the ceiling as the video explains, and that they do not make the entrances and tunnels too wide.  Inserting painter’s sticks in the ceiling is an excellent way to make sure that the fort stays strong and won’t collapse.

If they don’t want to build a fort with tunnels and would rather build the fort so that it has an open top, then the JM Cremp’s Snowball and Snow Brick Maker will be their best friend.  Pack the snow in the mold, place the bricks in a staggered formation one on top of the other, remove the mold, and voila! The next thing you know there will be a fort the size of the Alamo in your yard!  If you’re not a kid, you may be asking, “What’s the advantage to an open-topped fort?”  Snowball fights of course!

The Snowball and Brick Maker will make quick work out of fort-building and snowball making.
The Snowball and Brick Maker will make quick work out of fort-building and snowball making.

Whether their fort is small or large, simple or grand, one thing is for certain – they’ll enjoy hours of entertainment and loads of fun.

As always, JM Cremp’s is your ultimate source for adventure toys and gear, outdoor fun, and family activities.  If you don’t already have their catalog, request one today!

Get Outside Spring Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Now that spring has arrived, it’s time get outside, explore the world around you, and have some fun.  What better way to get reacquainted with the great outdoors than with a spring scavenger hunt?  This simple scavenger hunt will keep the kids busy as it opens their eyes to the world around them.

Download your FREE printable Spring Scavenger Hunt here.

Get Outside Spring Scavenger Hunt

Take this list outside and see how many of the spring items on this list you can find.  You’ll have to look high and low!

_______ Green grass

_______ Flower

_______ Acorn or other tree nut

_______ 1 brown bird

_______ A bee

_______ A butterfly

_______ A tree bud or leaf

_______ A pine cone

_______ Animal track(s)

_______ A worm

_______ An ant

_______ A feather

_______ A spider web

_______ A cloud shaped like an animal

_______ A colorful bird

_______ A bird nest

_______ A empty plastic bottle

Are you looking for more fun adventure ideas?  Check out our library of Adventure books that span all ages.  You’ll find books on survival, camping books for kids and families, outdoor adventure stories, and dozens of how-to manuals and guides for outdoor adventure.  With JM Cremp’s as your go-to resource, your kids will never be bored!

Cure Their Technology Addiction in Two Days Flat

Break Their Technology in Two Days Flat
Strike a balance between your child’s love of technology and their natural desire to explore the world around them. All it took was a couple of hammocks and my teenage boys spend every afternoon they can at the lake.

Are you from the generation that remembers when a stick became a sword, a pile of blankets became a fort, and an afternoon outside meant an epic adventure to far distant places?  If you are, it can be hard to stomach the constant need for technology that today’s youth seem to have.  It can be disheartening to see a 12 year old curled up on the couch with his iPod in hand and headphones in his ears on a gorgeous and sunny summer afternoon.  Even more disheartening is when you wrench the headphones from his ears and tell him to go outside and play, and the response you get is, “Outside? Now?  It’s so boring out there!”

A 2010 Kaiser Foundation Study found that children and teens are, on average, spending seven hours and 58 minutes on entertainment media each day.  That’s over 53 hours a week!  The truth is, technology is here to stay and your kids love of it isn’t going to dim anytime soon.  But, fear not weary parents – we have some ideas on how to break that reliance and expose your children to the dreaded “outdoors”.

A weekend of family camping is at the top of our technology-busting list, and for good reason.  By taking the kids away from their electronic habitat, you’re removing them from their familiar routine.  Over the course of your camping adventure, they’ll be able to focus on exploring the world around them and getting hands-on with nature.  Since children tend to be curious creatures who bore easily (especially when they reach teenager status), you can play upon that personality trait to get them outside, get them moving, and keep them happy.

One of the greatest and lasting rewards of a weekend of camping is the memories that your family will carry with them forever.  My family used to do quite a bit of summertime camping, and many decades later (but not too many), those camping weekends form some of my fondest childhood memories.  Now that I’m a mom of teenage boys, it puts a smile in my heart when my boys run out the door with their hammocks, backpacks, and fishing poles for a day of adventure.

If you aren’t a camping type of family, then you can still encourage (or in my case “trick”) your children into spending more time outdoors and away from their X-Box.  All it took for our family was for our boys and their friends to get a couple of hammocks.  Before I knew it, they were heading out to the lake or the local bluff with not only their hammocks, but fishing poles, backpacking equipment, and even assorted survival gear.  Of course, they bring their phones and iPods along and text me pictures, but that’s the kind of technology I DON’T mind!

JM Cremps carries a full assortment of outdoor camping and hiking gear for children of all ages.  Find the ideal outdoor gift for the child in your life here:   You can also find several ideas for camping fun and outdoor activities for children on this blog.

Summer Fun – Obstacle Course for Kids

Obstacle Course for Kids -Summer Adventures
A backyard obstacle course is a perfect way to keep your adventurous boys happy!

School is out, summer is here, and the Fourth of July is just around the corner.  This is the time of the year where fun and games are all your kids have on their mind. To keep things interesting and to prevent mid-summer doldrums, why not help your kids create a challenging backyard obstacle course.  It’s a great way to keep them both occupied and satisfied.  Plus, it’s the perfect afternoon entertainment for family bar-b-ques, birthday parties, and those fun Fourth of July gatherings.

To create an obstacle course that will keep your kids happy for hours, be sure to choose obstacles that draw on different skills.  For example, create a course that includes obstacles that gives them the opportunity to rely on their balance, speed, agility, strength, daring, or even their wits.  Using a variety of activities guarantees that your obstacle course will be a memory-making hit.

Here are some ideas you can use for obstacles.  Mix and match these, create your own, or change them up to suit your child’s age and abilities.  Include your child and their friends in the creation of the course, and they’ll really love it!

Jumping:

  • Do X number of jumping jacks on a designated spot.  (Pick a number appropriate for their age.)
  • Hop through a hopscotch board drawn on the sidewalk.
  • Jump Over Obstacle:  Arrange boards, towels, or anything you have on the grass for them to jump over.

Crawling:

  • Crawl under lawn chairs, lawn furniture, or outdoor tunnels.
  • Belly crawl over a tarp that has a small sprinkler on it.
  • Special Delivery Obstacle:  At the beginning of this obstacle, have them pick up a carrot from a bowl with their teeth and crawl to the receiving bowl (placed wherever you’d like) and drop the carrot in.

Balance:

  • Walk The Tightrope:  Stretch out the garden hose and have them walk across it.
  • Walk with an egg balanced on a spoon from point A to point B.
  • Balance one, two, or three flat objects on their heads. Books, plastic plates, or Frisbees work great.

Wits:

  • Solve a riddle
  • Recite a poem
  • Recite the alphabet backwards.

Water:

  • Run or crawl through a wading pool.
  • Throw water balloons at a target.  (This target can be a person for an extra twist of fun!)
  • Using a squirt gun, shoot at a target.  (A tab of alka seltzer on a plate a short distance away works great for this obstacle as the alka seltzer dissolves and fizzes.  They are allowed to move on when they’ve dissolved the alka seltzer tab.)

Agility:

  • Weave your way through a plastic cone course (Use plastic cups for this if you don’t have cones.)
  • Follow a crazily drawn chalk line that weaves down the sidewalk or driveway.
  • Weave through balloons strung from tree branches that are at their head-height.

Speed:

  • Take a lap around the block on a bicycle.
  • Sprint through the yard or around the house.
  • Walk backwards from one end of the yard to the other.

As you can see, these ideas are great starting points for you to choose from to build an awesome obstacle course.  When kids get involved in the planning, then the creativity really starts to flow!  If you really want to have fun and outfit the kids with some fun water balloon launchers, squirt guns, or other outdoor toys, check out our website at www.jmcremps.com.  We carry a full selection of toys, gear, and games to make summer adventures extra special.

Outdoor Kids Games – Backyard Water Games

There are few things more fun and satisfying than blasting someone with a squirt gun.  However, if you blast your Dad as he comes home from work, you might end up in more “hot water” than you bargained for.  Instead of taking that risk, the next time your trigger finger gets itchy, why don’t you organize a little friendly competition?  Whether it’s with your family on a Sunday afternoon, your friends on a hot evening, or the guests at your next party, these outdoor kids games and water games will keep you cool even as the fun heats up.

Aqua Zooka 12 Water Gun for Outdoor Kids Games
When a water fight is looming, you’ll need the superior fire power of a really good water gun.

Outdoor Kids Games #1 – Fountainhead Race:

What you need:  2 plastic or paper cups,  2 empty 20 oz. bottles, 2 buckets or pitchers filled with water.

What to do:  Divide into two teams.  One person from each team, called the bottle holder, will sit on the ground at least 20 feet away from the rest of the team and hold the empty bottle on their head.  The next team member, called a runner, will fill their paper cup with water, run to the bottle holder, and pour the water from the cup into the bottle.  When the runner’s cup is empty, the runner and the bottle holder switch places, and the new runner runs back to the team.  Because this is a relay, the next person in line does the same thing, and on and on until the 20 oz bottle is filled with water.  The first team to fill their 20 oz. bottle wins!

Outdoor Kids Games #2 – Run the Gauntlet:

What you need:  Several Cans of Shaving Cream for the runners, and one squirt gun for every shooter, one bucket, several clothespins, rocks, or other small to medium sized objects.

What to do:  Set up a simple aisle or path (sidewalks work perfect for this) and position the clothespins on one end, and the empty bucket on the other.  A good distance apart is anywhere from 30 to 70 feet.  Position the shooters on the sides of the aisle approximately 2 feet from the aisle (they are not allowed to touch the runner or to get in the runner’s way.) Paint a “target” of shaving cream on the runner’s chest. (Try to use the same amount of shaving cream for each runner). The runner’s job is to run back and forth delivering clothespins, one at a time, into the bucket. The object is to see how many clothespins he can get into the bucket before the shooters shoot all of the shaving cream target off. Once the shaving cream is gone from the runners chest, his turn is over. Count the number of objects that runner was able to place into the bucket. The one who delivers the most clothespins wins!

Outdoor Kids Games #3 – Fizzy Fighters:

What you need: A watergun and an alka-seltzer necklace for every player.

What to do: Have each player make an alka-seltzer necklace by using a needle to thread one to three alka seltzer tablets onto a string. Use the needle to poke a small hole in the middle of the tablet, but make sure your hands and work area are completely dry or your necklace will dissolve before you even get to play the game! To play the game, rope off a designated play area that all players must stay in. From the word “go” each player tries to dissolve the other players alka-seltzer necklace. The person whose necklace lasts the longest is the champion!

Just like a mom can never have too many pairs of shoes, a kid can never have too many water guns either.  Fortunately, JM Cremps carries a near arsenal for all of your water gun wars.  For some precise firing capacity you’ll be able to shoot your way through every battle with the Aqua Zooka 12.  Of course, when you really want to bring out the big guns and rule the neighborhood, you can’t go wrong with the Stream Machine TL-750.  For a real fun twist that will dominate any battle, a water balloon wrist-launcher is beyond fun.

Just for fun, check out this historic water gun fight that set the Guinness World Record for the largest water gun fight ever!