Living Room Campouts

There are several essentials to a good living room campout. Most important, you need kids who have a healthy imagination. You also need two parents who are unwilling to pack up the car, brave the wilderness and poop in the woods. Klems Manor is filled with these types of kids and parents. So when my two daughters asked me if we could camp out, I agreed under one condition—I got to choose the campsite.

Welcome to Yosemite, er, wait ... I mean YoKlemsite National Living Room Park, where the climate is controlled and the 50-inch HDTV lights up the sky like a cluster of bright stars—so long as that cluster of stars is shaped like Cincinnati Reds baseball players.

Creating an impromptu living room campout isn't too difficult. You will need a few household supplies. As Dad, you are the hunter and gatherer, so it's your job to hunt around the house and gather these supplies. Of course, the first item you will need to find is your wife, who will need to tell you where everything is. (Sure, you're a good hunter and gatherer, but the only three things you can really locate in the house are the fridge, the bathroom and your underwear drawer.)

Now that you're able to find the items (thanks Dear), let’s get started building our campsite.

First and foremost, you must lay down blankets on the floor to disguise the landscape. (Green and brown blankets are preferred, but not required). This not only makes your living room feel more "woodsy," but also is an excellent way to cover up the incriminating trail of Dorito crumbs that leads directly from the kitchen to your spot on the couch. And no matter how much you argue that you intentionally left this trail as a safety precaution (so you can find your way back to the kitchen in case you get lost), your wife will still give you a hard time. Better to cover it up.

Your next task is to build another campout staple: the campfire. Lighting a fire inside the house when it's 95 degrees outside seems like a cruel joke to play on your air-conditioning unit—I mean, seriously, that poor guy has put in countless hours of overtime and hasn't slept all summer. Then again, he peeps on your wife in the bathroom, so it's hard to feel too badly for him.

Instead of lighting up, grab some red and yellow construction paper, a pair of scissors, a roll of tape and two Band-Aids (any time scissors are involved you will always need a minimum of two Band-Aids). Minutes later you will have a handsome fire just outside your tent. 

Next up: Build a tent. Building a tent is an easy, two-step process: Step 1) Take a folding table and set it up; Step 2) Drape another blanket over it. Within 2 minutes, you have a tent. Fortunately for us, we didn't have to deal with the hassle of finding those items because we have a wonderful teepee tent that only took 6 hours to assemble its 134 pieces.

And finally, camping isn't camping without the weather elements. Creating rain indoors seemed like an insurmountable challenge (and a bad idea). Instead, we were able to create a strong windstorm thanks to a small box fan. It had four levels: Light Wind, Heavy Wind, Blow-Teepee-Tent-Over Wind and Off.

While I know this experience isn't quite like the great outdoors, I do know that it's the perfect way to spend a Saturday night. And as I sat on the couch, looking at the flashlights and water bottles and remnants of not-so-scary ghost stories that surrounded our campsite, I noticed my kids drift peacefully off into sleep in the arms of my wife. It was a picture-perfect memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Then, out of the quiet, came the faint voice of my wife.

"Oh Brian, I love this moment, but I'm really, really thirsty. Can you get me a glass of water so I don't have to get up?"

So I lifted myself from the couch, gave her a kiss and said, "I would love to, but I have no idea how to find the kitchen. If only there were a trail of some kind."

The Life of Dad is updated every Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian

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