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Challenge: Happy Birthday!

Spicing Things Up for My Son’s Last Birthday

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Birthdays are so important to kids that messing things up on that front is a recipe for disaster for any parent. And yet, after several years of throwing successful birthday parties for my son, I came to the realization that I was getting bored with the whole idea. Sure, it wasn’t about me – not at all – but I still felt like those kids could be having more fun and in more interesting, unique ways than what we were doing year after year.

So for his last birthday, I decided to try a new approach. Instead of the typical home party that the kids were used to, I decided to take them on an outdoor camping trip with an overnight stay. Thankfully I had the support of my husband who had been a scout leader for a long time and knew a lot about wrangling a bunch of kids in an unfamiliar outdoor environment.


My boy was skeptical at first when I told him about my idea. But after he saw pictures of where we were going, he quickly changed his mind. The place was close to an archery range, as well as some stables. Needless to say, we felt obligated to get in touch with those places and set up special events for the big day. The archery range was especially supportive and helped us organize a small contest with prizes, which all the kids seemed to love.


The horses got a lot of attention too, not just by the girls as I expected initially, but by many of the boys as well. There were some limitations on what the kids could do with the animals, and riding was done in a very controlled manner, but that didn’t affect anyone’s experience in a negative way.

At the end of the day, the kids were exhausted and seemed ready to crash, but that all changed when I announced that we were having an evening grill party and also ordered pizza online. We ate like kings (and queens!) and went to bed with smiles on our faces.


The kids maybe didn’t realize it, but I was probably the happiest of them all. I felt that unique spark of the birthday excitement once again, and I was ready to take on the next year in an even more interesting and unusual way. Hopefully I’ll keep coming up with good ideas though, because I’ll have to keep doing this for a while!

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