Backyard Campout Party

We had nine 8 year old girls and the most chivalrous 10 year old boy camping out in my backyard yesterday...

...because we were bringing in...

If you're backtracking to check how many kids we had camping in our backyard, it was ten in all. And, we all survived!

Medha turns 8 today but we celebrated yesterday because an 8 year old's life is complicated. There is another birthday party today and if she had her party on the same day, most of the girls wouldn't be able to come because they had already said yes to the other party. (Um, yes, I was late in getting my act together for this.) Also, if she had her party the previous day, not only could she have a sleepover and a campout, but everyone gets to go to two parties! How cool is that?! Most of the parents thought, Not!

The party was unlike most birthday parties for kids as it was rather unstructured. We started off at 5:30 pm with the girls running through the sprinklers and demonstrating their prowess at sidewalk art with chalk. The Super Soaker added a lot more screaming and yelping to the mix. This was followed by dinner at 6:30 pm:For the adults, I supplemented some additional flavor with
We had one minor miscalculation - I had bought a little charcoal grill that needed to be set up. The birthday girl's father understood "set up" to mean get the charcoal going in the chimney and then throw the live coals into the grill. When he opened the box, he realized the full implications of set up and we were looking back and forth between 10 very hungry and very vocal mouths and at least a half hour with a screwdriver. Our neighbors came to our rescue and before we knew it, we had a large gas grill in our backyard and a satiated audience lying flat in the lawn. But not for long, because we had a hula hoop competition which I was hoping would tire the little terrors some more. But they got their last burst of energy from the sugar in the birthday cake!

If I could bake and decorate cakes like Archana, I might have considered putting in the effort but we went to Sam's Club and ordered a half sheet of chocolate cake with whipped frosting. I wish I was as enthusiastic as the kids were about the reds and the blues in the cake but since none of them was allergic to dyes in food coloring, I chose not to think about it anymore. The girls fought over the buds while the only young man got the flowers from one corner. He is such a trooper. Yesterday, he even ate some of the karela shaak I made for lunch and told me he thought it was good!

The tents were set up while we opened presents and took pictures. The girls were 3 to a tent and the young man brought his own personal tent across. They went into the tents with small flashlights and glow sticks. The giggling and the laughing continued in one tent till almost 11 pm. At one point the tent was just short of collapsing because one boisterous young girl rolled till she could go no further. I threatened them with the most dire of circumstances if the noise continued: the rest of the night would continue indoors for them. They would quieten down for about 10 minutes until something else tripped them off again. A flashlight trained on their tent periodically worked wonders till their weary bodies finally gave in to deep slumber. It was a beautiful night, in the low 60s with a cool breeze blowing from time to time.

You'd think they'd sleep in. Nope. They started traipsing in at 6:15 am. By 6:45 am, I had the griddle cranking out smiley face pancakes, some with chocolate chips for those that wanted them and for those that didn't care, and without for those that did care. These were further topped with whipped cream and syrup. In less than an hour, we were done with breakfast and the packing up process began, tent by tent. By 10:30 am, the last of our little guests left and my husband and I were finally able to collapse on the sofas. What a great party! All the kids had a blast and hopefully their parents got a quiet night together.

I must say though that I am not entirely sure how I allowed them to sleep outside given that we had a vistor last week that did not belong to the species homo sapien, but that is a story for my next post, so stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

That is so cool! You must be a cool mom. I am not sure if I could handle 10 kids together. Happy birthday wishes to Medha. That is a beautiful name.

Anonymous said...

Gini, thank you! I will let her know. We are taking her out for dinner to a new South Indian restaurant that has opened in Boulder to have idlis. I have been unsuccessful with idlis since we moved here so this will be a huge treat for her as idli is her favorite food! I hope we find the place because I just have the name of the restaurant and the general location.

I had a lot of help with the party. One of my friends came over to help me cut and chop and get things ready. My neighbors were also here till late. One of them was a camp manager at YMCA. So she really had the kids going with the hula hoops. I am not shy when it comes to asking for help :-D

Anonymous said...

Oh wow. I wish I was a kid and could attend one of such parties. Cool....
Loads of birthday wishes to Medha.

Anonymous said...

This message is not for Manisha :P

Happy Birthday Medha !! Seems like you had lot of fun.
From what I heard from your mom about your running, you should aim at going pro :)

Rajesh &Shankari said...

That sounds like a fun party.

Mika said...

Happ birthday Medha!

Manisha- your party sounds so wonderful and for this big event, wonder how much time you spent planning and getting it all together...

Anonymous said...

Shilpa, you got it right! Oh! To be a child again!

Mythili, ;-)

Shankari, it was a lot of fun! Tiring though, because 10 kids can be very demanding!

Mika,truth be told, it was the easiest kids party ever! Like I said, I woke up kind of late. Some of the kids were invited as late as Tuesday for a party on Saturday. Invitations were mostly verbal but then since most people needed the address, we mailed out invitation cards as late as Tuesday. I could have emailed the address too but there are some folks who don't check email for days. The cake was ordered on Tuesday, too. In the worst case, I would have gone and picked up any old half sheet there was at Sam's on the day of the party. The food was very simple, too, and only needed chopping or mixing and then laying out in platters. I started on the food well past 4 pm on the day of the party. Grilling the hot dogs wasn't much of a problem either. Only the grill was! That was the sole hitch we encountered.

One of my friends gave me her tent, another kid's Mom handed me theirs as I was extending the invitation and the third tent was hoisted over the fence from one yard to another. I did not worry about return gifts either: the hula hoop was the return gift. I got them a couple of days before the party. I had to make a trip to two Wal-marts to get 10. Glow sticks were 88 cents a piece. And we used only a few of the the flashlights, which were 84 cents a piece.

I had no structured activities like crafts or games planned. They came, they ran through the sprinklers, screamed, hula hooped and had fun. We were there to make sure they were safe and to diffuse difficult situations. We had one girl leave the party very upset because of an altercation with another girl. As she left I told her she was welcome to come right back if she changed her mind, no matter what time it was. Or even for breakfast the next day. She was back in less than half hour with big smiles on her face. She was 'best friends' with the girl who had offended her earlier and together, they proceeded to have the time of their lives.

If you have kids, this is a real fun party as they feel like they have gone camping, with all the comforts of home. There is such a thrill associated with sleeping outside in the open! The initial plan was to watch the stars come out and then head inside to sleep but that would have been too much of a pain with 10 kids. So I checked with each parent as they dropped their child off and no one had any issues. So they all slept outside and all in all, it was a huge success.

Now that I have endured this, I will do it again many times through summer but with a small group of girls - at the most 4 or 5. And, of course, the chivalrous young man from next door. What would we do without him?!

Unknown said...

WOW!!! U all must have had an excellent time. Happy belated b'day to Medha.

Luv2cook said...


What a great write-up. I just loved it. Sounds like it was a great party! We were talking about baby names on Sunday for a friend who is expecting and I brought up the same name, Medha. I have always loved that name. Happy birthday to her!

RP said...

That sounds like a lot of fun.
Whenever my daughter asks for camping in the backyard with her friends, I set up everything in the living room and let them camp there. LOL I am a scaredy cat!
Please convey my birthday wishes to the little one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Manisha,

Came in from your kind and informative reply to my question earlier today -- to think you had such an event this weekend and still found energy to wake up today ;)

A happy birthday to your daughter - it sounds like a grand time was had by all.

Best wishes!

archana said...

I didn't really see this post until today, Manisha, thank you for being this kind to me, you have always been that way from the very begining of my blog. Belated happy birthday to Medha. A very interesting write up !!!

Anonymous said...

Pushpa, great time was had by all.

L2C, I've always loved the name. It means intelligence. I hope she finds some of that along the way ;-D

RP, we had a trial run in the neighbor's yard the previous night. That gave me some confidence. Also, my backyard is completely fenced in. And, I slept on the sofa in the living room with the patio door open. You could always do it with your kids so you are out there with them.

Linda, welcome to IFR! Medha has expressed a desire to post a comment thanking you all. I hope to hold her hand through that some time soon! Thank you for the wishes!

Archana, you are blessed with a talent so wonderful, something the rest of us can only dream of! Thank you for letting us peek into your world from time to time. God bless!

Maya said...


I tried your vangi bhaat recipe today... it was really good. Thanks!

(I couldn't find a link to post a comment there- since you had written it in 2003- so am posting my comment here)...


Anonymous said...

Maya, welcome to IFR! I'm glad you liked my vangi bhath. Did you use goda masala or did you substitute it with something else?

Anita said...

Nice party, Manisha.

You should do it for adult friends tooo...for the child in us! Campout with a loo in the house sounds fun. And breakfast included - nothing could be better! Can one for an omelette instead of the pancakes? :-)