Here's a fun and practical activity to do with your campers, courtesy of Nature Rocks:
Step 1. Get a stick.
Step 2. Plant the stick in the ground. Make sure it is tall stick that will cast a good shadow. Also make sure the ground is flat and relatively free of obstacles. And finally make sure the stick is as straight up and down as possible.
Step 3. Mark where the end of the shadow of the stick is on the ground. You can draw on the ground, or use a rock. But make sure to mark the exact end of the shadow.
Step 4. Eat some trail mix, play a quick game of king of the hill, throw a few rocks, whistle a duet and attempt to keep your offspring from plucking the stick out of the ground and walking all over your experiment.
Step 5. Check the stick again in about 20 minutes (the longer you leave it the more accurate it will be) and mark where the end of the shadow of the stick is now. (As a side note, you can also tell if it is before or after noon: did the shadow get longer? If yes, then it is after noon. If no, it is still before noon).
Step 6. Draw a line between the two marks you have made on the ground (or connect them with another nice, straight stick). You have just made your east/west line, the first mark you made will be west and the second mark will be east.
Step 7. Draw another line bisecting the line you just drew on the ground. Make sure that this new line is perpendicular to the first line (it will look like a big plus sign). That line, my friends, points north and south.
Step 8. Which way is north, you ask? Place your left food near your west mark, and your right foot near your east mark. You are now looking north.