Last year, while on a family vacation near Astoria, Oregon, we stopped by Fort Clatsop where Lewis & Clark spent the winter months after reaching the Pacific Ocean. It didn’t take long for my kids to get hooked on Lewis & Clark–wandering the grounds with historical interpreters, getting to dress up in replica clothing, writing with quills, and the one that sealed the deal for my son: a live musket loading and firing demonstration.
That Christmas all he wanted was a replica musket like the one from Fort Clatsop and a coonskin cap. When it came time to choose a theme for his 6th birthday, Lewis and Clark was the perfect fit for this Oregon boy and his adventure-seeking friends.
Camping and adventure birthdays are a popular theme this year so there was no lack of inspiration when it came to planning. What was lacking in the busyness of back to school schedules and fall sports, was time. So with a few simple decorations and store bought treats we enjoyed a fun afternoon adventuring, discovering, and learning about history.
The birthday invitations, which set the theme for the party, were made a little more special by printing out a map of Oregon and using it to line the envelopes.
The bunting above the table was made from a digital art print, which I resized and printed on photo paper at Costco. I wove that slogan into other elements of the party by printing it on the place cards, trail mix bags, and as a little print-out card in the favor pouches.
A few bags of pine-cones, a framed print of evergreens borrowed from the birthday boy’s bedroom, and a large lantern kept the décor simple but outdoorsy and foil pie pans from the dollar store made the table setting, cheap, easy, and rustic.
I’m a huge fan of scouring the internet for beautiful, free printables and there were many featured at this party. A Costco enlargement of a “Let’s Be Adventurers” print welcomed guests at the front door and connected the theme of the Lewis & Clark expedition with its graphic U.S. map.
A beautifully illustrated nature scavenger hunt became an easy party favor as did a sweet print out of America the Beautiful where you could color the entire country or map out the expedition.
Blank journals from the school supply store were easily personalized and Oregon pencils were a perfect addition.
The birthday boy’s number one request was for a piñata at his party and since I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find one to fit our theme, I decided to try out a diy piñata tutorial and designed one that was supposed to resemble the state of Oregon (luckily the birthday boy thought it did!)
Inside the piñata were mini flashlights and pouches of candy rocks.
All of the food at this party was store bought and it was for sure the way to go. It saved so much time and energy and nobody noticed the difference! The kids loved the Costco chocolate cake and once I spruced it up with a few rosemary evergreen trees and a plastic bear, it looked perfectly celebratory.
A platter of chocolate covered s’more bites from Trader Joes went with the outdoors theme along with a make-your-own trail mix bar. The kids roasted marshmallows during the party and with all the sugar coursing through their systems we made sure to plan a few activities to wear it off.
After cake, we divided the guests into teams: the Corps of Discovery team and the Native American team. The Corps of Discovery, led by Sacagawea, took off immediately for their adventure, uncovering hidden packages along the way that pointed them to a mystery destination.
Each package that they uncovered contained an item that Lewis and Clark may have used on their expedition or may have carried with them to trade/exchange with the Native American tribes.
I’m pretty sure the highlight was discovering a cap gun rifle and taking turns shooting it.
The Native Americans, who decided to be the Nez Perce tribe, worked on a few crafts before heading out on their adventure.
Their hunt had them finding artifacts, tools, or re-enacting Native American traditions. Some of their discoveries included beaded necklaces, woven fabrics, arrow heads, reading animal tracks, uncovering faux animal pelts, and finding food that may have been shared with the Corps of Discovery to aid them in their survival.
Their destination was a thicket of evergreen trees where they quietly hid awaiting the arrival of the adventurers.
The adventurers arrived eager to exchange peace medals, American flags, and other items with the Nez Perce. With the boys running at full speed through the trees, guns waving in the air, it looked more like a war party than a peaceful one but it was so much fun to see a little piece of history come to life for them.
After returning home we made bows and arrows out of branches, roasted marshmallows and shot arrows at targets.
And after successfully destroying the piñata, it was time for the adventures to end.
The guests left outfitted for their next adventure with their own coonskin cap along with a pouch holding a compass and a few arrowheads.
All in all it was a perfect day for discovering, learning, and celebrating our Oregon boy!
Thank you for letting me spend time with you today at the Fence,
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