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SXC photo of a campfire burning with white and orange flames rising
"Home, home on the raaange." Camping, campfires, and campfire songs are so much a part of the American summer. Kids especially love this stuff. "Can we go camping, Mom/Dad? Can we? Can we? Can we?"

Don't have the budget/energy/time to drag the whole family to a real campground? Consider building a stay-cation-style camp site at home. You can do this inside, or try setting up outside on the lawn or on your porch, deck, or patio. Invite all the kids' friends and make a party out of it!

Fake fire will be your centerpiece. I found suggestions on building a faux campfire at TheMeBuilders.com and at Cadvisor.com. This basically involves positioning a fan and some red-colored lightbulbs underneath your "campfire" (bundle of logs). A piece of colored silk scarf flickers and billows when the fan is turned on. Never, ever leave the setup unattended in case the bulbs overheat.

For real campfire ambiance, you'll need to turn the lights off and start a sing-a-long of campfire songs. Serve chili, hot dogs, and s'mores... on plastic or tin camping plates if you have them. Finally, get a woodsy and/or campfire smoke scented candle burning. To go all-out, invest in a CD of campfire sounds, for realistic wood-burnin' crackling noises.

Want the real deal instead? Check out Anna's post on outdoor s'more grilling, and Francesca's campfire-building tips!

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