rsz_pinterest_camp_fire.jpgIt’s a no brainer that summer is the best time of year to be outdoors. It’s a chance to get away from the TV, the gaming, and your devices, and experience fresh air, sunshine, and more leisurely pursuits. With a few accessories and some fun games, you’re ready for fun family time all summer long.

Get some games


I like to keep a handful of different outdoor games around for spontaneous summer play. They’re great to keep kids occupied, and once the kids have settled in for the night, many are still good fun for the adults.

One of my favourite summer games is bocce ball. I have a bocce set that comes camping with us regularly, and we’ll play in the dirt, on grass, along gravel campgrpund roads, and even through the forest. It’s a versatile, easy game for all ages, (and it’s one where even the kids can beat the grown ups), and you can play as individuals or teams. Buying a bocce set with a case will keep the car clean, and make storage easy, like this bocce set from Swiftflyte. Need instructions on the game? Click it!

rsz_giant-tower_family.jpgI’m putting this new game on the top of my birthday list. It’s a giant version of the kid classic, Jenga! In this case “Giant Tower Game” as it’s known, requires you to stack blocks, then slide them out carefully and restack them, but you have to avoid toppling the tower. The 58 pine blocks have smooth, contoured edges for an easy, safe grip. It also comes with a heavy-duty canvas bag for convenient storage as well as making it easy to move the game around. Building things up and watching them fall will definitely keep the kids occupied.

The other new game I’ll add to my outdoor summer collection is badminton. It’s easy for kids to play or learn, doesn’t require costly set up, doesn’t take up a lot of space and with even a bit of practise it’s easy to keep a badminton birdie in the air. It’s one of those classic games that’s a fun summer pastime the whole family can take part in.

Shelter & Heat


After family game time, you’ll probably want to relax, but one of the key complaints people make about spending time outdoors is the bugs. A great way to beat the bites is to get a large screen-room tent. This versatile Sportz by Napier tent gives you open-air coverage, but also attaches to your vehicle, giving you more interior space and more options for going mobile.

rsz_biolite_basecamp.jpgI also love to have a campfire when I’m kicking back outside, and a new product available at Best Buy gives you not only the option of a campfire for heat, but also for quick cooking. The Biolite BaseCamp’s 138 square inch grill surface easily fits eight burgers so this grill is perfect and portable when it comes to planning a family BBQ outdoors away from home. Plus, the BioLite BaseCamp will not only cook and grill, but it has the added benefit of converting all that extra heat into usable electricity for charging your smartphones, cameras and other electronic devices. There’s something about a campfire that draws kids in, so getting a fire going is a nice way to gather the family around to enjoy time together.

Maybe you just need basic heat? If so, a propane patio heater will come in handy, particularly for those cooler BC and prairie summer nights. This heater from Napoleon is a smaller version of the ones you find at bars and restaurants and is invaluable in areas where it’s otherwise too cool to sit outside for long after dark.

Take a Seat

 

Whether you’re hanging in the tent, or around the fire, you’ll want some comfy seats. I’ve been coveting these folding papasan-style lounge chairs for a couple years since I borrowed one from a friend. They’re ultra comfortable, and even have room for two kids to snuggle up in. The oversized Sportcraft Luxury dish-style camp chair is made from steel and has a PVC-coated woven polyester cover that can hold up to 275 pounds, has nice padded arm rests, and comes with a matching carry bag. You might want to get one for everyone, to keep the bickering at bay.

There’s a reason they put hammocks in all the ads for Caribbean destinations. They’re soothing and relaxing, and can make your backyard a comfortable oasis. Kids and adults alike love swinging in hammocks, so adding one (or two! No fighting!) will guarantee happy family time.  An old fashioned rope hammock will work well for most people. You just cinch it up between two trees. We have a small portable rope hammock stuffed into our camping gear because it’s easy to tie up and take down and gives both kids and adults a place to chill out or take a nap. If your yard doesn’t have strong trees, a hammock with a stand is the way to go.

Sound & Light 


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What to do when the sun goes down, and you’re lounging in your papasan chair inside your screened-off palace? Why not tune in some local radio programs with a Freeplay Buddy Solar/Crank Radio with Flashlight and USB Charger.  Another multi-tasker for the campsite, this AM/FM radio with weather band access gets its power from the sun, with the USB port, or via a hand crank. It also has a built in flashlight, so it’s the perfect outdoor portable entertainment unit that also doubles as an emergency beacon.

Speaking of lights, outdoor light is one of those backyard projects that’s often overlooked. People don’t think much about lighting the backyard, but it’s easy and can be relatively inexpensive. Lighting can also make things safer for the family, and it also gives the yard a warmer feel that’s just more fun to be in. Take these gorgeous globe lights, for example: the Lümen Sphere smart light is perfect for a patio, garden or swimming pool area. It includes a foldable hook and a removable peg so you can put it exactly where you want it. The Lumen is controlled by an app on your smartphone and can give you a staggering 16 million different colours and pre-programmed lighting modes for any occasion. The lights are waterproof, they charge wirelessly just by being in contact with their induction charging base, and the battery will last up to 8 hours on a single charge.

It’s all too easy for summer to turn from the lazy days, to the crazy days as we rush from day camps, to work, to appointments, to evenings out. Don’t forget to make some time to stop and relax and spend quality time with the family in the great outdoors.

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