Friday, October 12, 2012

modern medieval family : Activity Hunt Follow Up

Since I last posted, we've had an opportunity to try my Event Activity Hunt twice, first with my 2-year old daughter, then with my 4-year old son. The second time we also had my baby in tow, though he's still too young to get much out of the premise behind it- he just enjoyed the walks and the new sights and sounds.

It took a few tries before she got the hang of pulling just one card from the bag.
We started in the morning once we began hearing the noises from the list fields and noticed more people moving about the site. The first time, I had forgotten to pull out the cards I knew we weren't going to find that day, so the first couple she pulled were actually duds. I corrected this the second time with my son. In his case, there was one that had been pulled (the Scribe's Room card) that my mom decided to skip because of where it was located.

With my daughter, when we got to the activity, we had a hard time getting the card back to read the little blurb, but it didn't really seem to matter anyway. Just pointing out the activity and getting her to see why it was unique seemed to work. For my son, we interacted more, particularly when we found the Rapier List. He wanted to see their swords and armor and the fencers were gracious enough to let him touch them.

For both "runs", when we pulled the Royalty card, we spoke with the Queen. Interestingly, there was a Coronation between the two events, so we didn't talk with the same Queen twice! I was teaching a class when my son found the Queen, but my mom tells me she was very welcoming and open to talking with him, and even let him touch her crown as he counted the dragons and roses.

She liked seeing the pictures on each, even if she didn't understand them.
I've decided to remove two of the cards from the deck, the Troll card and the Scribes Room card. Finding these "activities" is a little awkward, and the kids don't get much of a chance to really see and understand what's going on with them.

She insisted on carrying the card as we walked to find it.
We discovered that the cards really helped up get out and see the event. We were always on the move, as we moved from one activity to the next, but we lingered long enough at each to see what was going on and share that with the kids. At the end of the day it was a lot of walking, but it was truly worth it.  In the second run, the cards were used up fairly quickly, even with a break for lunch, and when there was no more hunt, my son began to act up in the same manner he always did. He did not, however, act up while the hunt was still going on, which is very telling. Adding in shape and color cards will help extend the hunt for him, and I may even brainstorm some mini games that we can play when their card is pulled that allow us to take a break from walking, but don't stop the hunt.

Overall, I say the Event Activity Hunt is a success, and I'm excited about how adaptable it was to the two different ages and temperaments. It will be interesting to try it in the winter at an indoor event to see if it still works.

Oh, and make sure you have something handy to put the cards you pull into as you do your hunt!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

modern medieval family: getting kids interested at a young age

My children are all still considered quite young, so my view on kids at SCA events is currently aimed at how preschoolers and toddlers interact with the Society. If you read my last post, you'll know now that, while that's where my head is at, I've come to realize how wrong I've been about actually getting my kids interested.

And that's just not acceptable.

When I began attending SCA events, I was 16 and had the mental capacity to know what was going on (mostly). I came to the SCA with an understanding and interest in medieval culture already, as well as a desire to participate in the Society's unique culture. It's extremely easy to take for granted the ease all that came to me.

But what about a way to make learning all that stuff fun, interesting and exciting for a toddler? What if there was a tradition that could be built into the act of going to events with young kids that, with repetition and time, taught them about events, the SCA, and helped them to feel included?

How about my Event Activity Hunt?


I picked 20 items that happen at our local events. These include "typical" activities, such as Heavy Weapons fighting and Archery, as well as special activities that happen rarely, like Coursing. Then there are items that aren't so much activities, but rather things that are at many events, namely the merchants, but also the feast kitchen and scribe's room. I also included the royalty and our local group barony.


I also threw in two "wild" cards, "Most Authentic Garb" and "Most Impressive Encampment".  These two are not activities, but are ways to encourage the kids to recognize when people at events are doing a good job at something and provides a unique opportunity to interact with those people.  I'll be making some bead tokens for the kids to give to the people they pick for these cards.


 I created cards with images on the front to represent the items, then named each and included a short "definition" on the back. I had my local print shop print them on heavy card stock, then finish them with rounded corners and lamination. I could have done them on my own at home, but I want them to be sturdy and kid-proof. It cost under $20 to have the printer do it. 

Here's the idea:

Before attending the event, we determine if any of the "special" activities or items will be there, and we make sure to include them in a grab bag. We remove cards for items we know will not be available.

Throughout the event, the kids get to draw a card at random. Then we "hunt" for the activity. Once we find it, we read off our definition, then spend a few minutes at that activity, either watching and explaining what's happening, or interacting with the people doing the activity.

I color coded the cards to easily separate the special cards and the cards that you may not actually get to interact with or even get into (like the Feast Kitchen).


There are several ways to adapt the game, depending on the kids, the nature of the event, and the items drawn. For instance, let's say that the kids pull the Royalty card, and at that particular event, the Royalty is very accessible. The "hunt" for the Royalty that day could mean finding them, approaching them, and introducing the kids to them (while explaining what you're doing). The next event, though, perhaps the royalty is less accessible. So instead of interacting with them, you simply find them or point them out, or maybe just look for the thrones.

Other adaptations are to only pull a card when you're sick of being at the sunshade, or to have a specified number of cards that must be pulled at the event.

There's also the possibility of adding prizes or tokens that they receive for each activity they locate.

And it's a great way to gauge interest. If every time a particular activity is drawn, the child goes nuts and immediately wants to find it, it's safe to say that activity is something that interests them. If they stop getting enthusiastic about certain activities, then they probably aren't as interested in them. Instead of dropping that card, though, have the child tell you about the activity- they may not understand it which has caused them to not care for it. If they do understand it, then have them define the activity each time it's pulled, and ask them to tell you why it's included in events. They need to be respectful of other people's interests, after all, so it's important that they never think that it doesn't matter.

I'm excited to try these with my daughter at our next event.  If nothing else, they will give us a good excuse to get out from under the sunshade and actually see the event!

If you would like to start your own Event Activity Hunt tradition, and would like to use my cards, you can download a PDF of the cards herePlease use them only for personal, non-profit use.

Friday, August 10, 2012

modern medieval family: is event behavior driven by boredom?

This post is something of a follow up to my last post, which I've been thinking a lot about since posting it.

All my kids have been extremely adept at solitary play. Even the twins are very good at finding something to do individually. Yet, in the home environment, we have plenty for them to interact with- toys, books, empty bottles and boxes, endless pieces of paper, and, of course, TV. It's pretty rare that true boredom really ever hits them. There's always something to do.

When we took my oldest to events, we made sure to bring along his diapers, food, blanket, etc. but never gave much thought to what else he might need. He played so well on his own at home with such an a active imagination, we figured that he'd occupy himself in the same manner at events. But instead, he just seemed to want to run off, get into stuff and use his "outside" voice all the time. In other words, events became a breeding ground for misbehavior.

When we added the twins into the event mayhem, O had already established an untrustworthy repertoire at events. We couldn't rely on him to help us out by simply behaving.

Added to his general lack of civil conduct was his total rebellion against taking a nap. We had problems getting him to nap during the day at home, so his resistance to them at events didn't really surprise us, but it was extremely frustrating. Eventually, during the twin's second event (when O was 2), I made the call- trying to force him into taking a nap at an event was a losing battle, one I no longer had the energy or desire to fight.

But then we began seeing the same behavior in the twins. At home, to keep things under control, they spent more time in their play pens than roaming about. Yet at home they behaved, and chattered with each other and chewed on their toys and hugged their teddy bears. At events, however, they whimpered and refused to settle down for naps.

Events, then, started to come with a caveat. If we go, we have to deal with the misbehavior. There have been many times in recent months that we skipped an event simply because we didn't feel we had the patience to deal with all the bad kids.

Now, I'm adult enough to admit when I've made a mistake, but it sometimes takes a while to realize when a mistake has been made. In this case, "a while" has been nearly 4 years. And here's the mistake: believing that the kids could take care of their own entertainment at events the same as they could at home, and not giving them the tools to do that.

I think that we mistakenly believed that the event environment would foster its own brand of interesting opportunities for play. That the list fields, the interesting clothing and the pageantry would all provide entertainment enough for our children. Unfortunately, from the point of view of the kids, we never made the act of going and being at an event a big deal, so there was no need to get excited about it, or be interested in it. Add to it that we rarely let them wander and explore, and almost never provide a fun and comfortable place for them to play as an alternative, and to them, events are actually the worst place ever.

Nothing makes you feel like a goober like realizing that you've completely screwed up the one thing you really wanted your kids to like.

In September, mom and I will be going to a camping event, and I decided that my daughter should go with us. She has not gone to an event without at least one sibling, and she's only been camping twice. She's also more likely to stay close, come when she's called, and keep her voice down. In other words, she's typically the best behaved, and therefore the best guinea pig.

Guinea pig for what? A change of attitude on my part to help her see and understand what makes events special, what there is to do there, and when we're stuck at the sun shade, to make her mood my number one priority.

I've got some ideas of how to accomplish this, including a game that can last the whole event, which I'll share in my next post.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

lessons learned: Not involving your kids

A few months ago, we had to make a tough decision, one that greatly changed our participation in SCA events. We had to make the decision to not involve our kids as much in our hobby. Specifically, we decided not to take the kids to camping events, at least until they don't require the high level if supervision they need now.

Back in the fall, after a VERY long, uncomfortable night in which the non-kid friendly camping atmosphere, and the twins not knowing how to handle sleeping in the tent forced us to sleep in the van Friday night, we packed up the camp and went home Saturday after evening court. We also had a very difficult time getting the kids away from camp during the day, since there only ever seemed to be one adult with the kids for a good chunk of the day.

We left the three older kids home in the spring, and took the baby with us to camp 3 hours away at Coronation. A thunderstorm blew through camp right before we got there, and flooded the camping field. The option presented was to sleep in a large open room (a metal pole building) with everyone else. Because we were with a baby, we decided this was not the choice for us, and went to find the nearest hotel. No dice. We slept in the van again, with A nestled in the back of the van with almost all the blankets. He slept relatively well, but we did not.

We tried again at Border Raids, with all four kids again. Saturday was miserable- it was hot, and the kids were stuck at camp because each of the adults had to take turns with them because of our commitments. The twins were bored, they hated being in the tent to sleep, and they screamed and cried almost the whole time. After dinner, we packed it up and went home, not staying Saturday night. Again.

The next day, we sat down and made the decision. We each (including my mom, who we usually go to events with) have interests and commitments at events, and while we want our children to understand and like our hobby, we can't throw out our commitment as parents just to get in some good SCA time. The comfort and opinion of our children has to come first.

The twins don't like camping in general, O doesn't like being stuck at camp, and A's been put in one too many awkward and slightly dangerous sleeping situations. And stuck at camp with four uncomfortable kids and nothing to be done about it makes me feel like my family is a freak show when our campmates shoot us sidelong, irritated glances.

Along with this choice, we realize that bringing all four kids to a day camp poses the same sorts of challenges. We've realized over the summer that, if we want to continue being involved, we can't create situations in which one of us gets stuck at the day camp with the kids. And if there isn't a plan for what to do with the kids at the event, it's probably not going to end well.

I want my kids to go to events. I want them involved. But I also don't want to be selfish at the expense of the kids' moods. Before each event, we plan. Who will go? How many kids? What will the kids do there? It is worth taking any kids, given the site, the weather and our personal commitments?

We were foolish, in retrospect, to believe that we could continue to attend events with four young kids in the same manner we attended them with one. This has been a learning process for us, and we believe we've made the best choice for us and our family at this time to not involve our kids at the same level we were. It saddens me- I feel like we could do better as a modern medieval family to find a better solution for all of us to camp and enjoy an event- a full event- together. We'll get there eventually, though- we just need to work it all out.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

kids at the faire: The Art of Calligraphy

My grandfather often used a dip pen.  I don't ever remember him doing medieval-style calligraphy, or anything truly fancy, but the fact that he knew how to use pen and ink astounded me as a kid.  My mother had learned calligraphy somewhere along the way, citing grandpa's interest in calligraphy as her personal inspiration.  One of the first marks she made (pun intended) in the SCA was as a scribe.  She typically uses cartridge pens, but the principle is the same- wielding a power over ink.

I never learned calligraphy.  I tried several times.  I got a calligraphy kit as a Christmas gift one year, but whether it was lack of dedication on my part, or a skill set that simply does not fall into that category, I really just never got the hang of it.  I can draw with a dip pen- I use a nib and ink for all my illuminations now- but I still look at those who can do calligraphy with awe.

My children are still too young to write, but my peripheral experience with calligraphy puts having them each learn at the top of the A&S list.  It's a useful skill.  Not just in the SCA, but in the "real" world as well.  Just search for "calligrapher" and see how many successful businesses have been built upon the ability to master pen and ink.

In the SCA, the ability to do calligraphy can open up not only the world of the scribes to your child, but can possibly prepare them for a day when...just maybe...they may be required to sign a scroll.  And imagine how beautiful that signature would be if they learned calligraphy now, as a child!

If your child has control of a pen, and knows cursive, introducing calligraphy is a natural next step.  Start with fountain or cartridge pens to avoid ink spills, but encourage them to play with dip pens soon after they get the hang of how a nib is different than a ball point.  Then try out this online lesson when your child gets a better handle on using a nib. 

And remember that, just like me, calligraphy might not be their thing.  It takes practice and patience, and some kids just don't have that.  Some adults don't either.  That's when you introduce them to medieval illumination and the chance to wield power over paint instead!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

dress them well : a set of baby clothes

I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs this morning, and discovered that Sarah at A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle had recently assembled a lovely set of clothing for her infant son.  She used toddler fashions as inspiration, since medieval babies were typically swaddled most of the time, which limited their fashion options! She also used linen and wool to be authentic, but took into consideration his comfort and the sensitivity of babies skin where needed. It's a great place to look if you're out of infant garb ideas!

Friday, April 27, 2012

modern medieval family : Not So Modern Toys

When we pack up stuff for the kids to go to an event with us, we typically toss a few medieval-themed modern toys together (we have a portable castle set that can hold several toys within it), and take that along.  The kids are familiar with these toys, and though I never particularly liked their modern nature, I also never particularly gave it much thought.

Then I was browsing around the internet on a few of my favorite medieval inspiration sites (those sites I go to for that "I want my kit to be like that" feeling), and spotted a couple images where young children were playing with toys that were decidedly not modern, but were not necessarily period either.  They did, however, seem to fit the context of medieval recreation a bit more than a plastic figurine does.

So I set to work doing some research, and located the toys page at Larsdatter.com.  After looking at just about every single image, I decided that I wanted to make 4 new "period" toys that would be specifically designated for events.  Here's what I came up with:

Figurine
I used burnt sienna colored Sculpey clay to create a figurine inspired and styled (somewhat) after a 15th century figurine from Rhineland.  She's about 3.5" tall, just the right size to fit nicely in a child's hand.  It took me a few attempts to get her right (the final was version 3), but I'm really happy with the way she turned out.  Since the Sculpey clay has a softer, warmer feel than traditional clay, she's a bit "friendlier" for the kids to hold.  I did have some concerns about her ending up in the kid's mouths, but so far they don't seem to care to taste her.  Sculpey is non-toxic, however, so even if they do put her in their mouths for short bursts of time, there's no damage to either party.

Rattle
Medieval rattles aren't usually cloth in nature, but rather metal, wood or clay.  I particularly like the clay pig rattle.  I decided to do a cloth version for no other reason than I figured out how to do it!  I used some of the Sculpey clay left over from the figurine to create a handle.  The ends of the handle are connected with a narrow, straight bar.  There are also two holes in each end of the handle (like button holes).  I used a scrap piece of wool, folded it in half and created a pouch.  There are actually two layers of wool- I cut the pouch long and tucked the extra into the pouch.  I tossed two small jingle bells into the pouch, then sewed the pouch onto the handle with some linen thread.  Since the wool is doubled over, the jingling is slightly muffled, so it's a rattle, not an annoying parent torture device.

Rag Doll
I wanted to make something really simple that could get tossed around and not do any damage.  I was inspired by this Roman rag doll from Egypt.  I took a long strip of linen, folded it in half and tied the looped end into a knot, with just a bit of the loop sticking out to make the head.  Then I tied knots in the ends to form the feet.  No arms, though, so we'll just say he's hugging himself.  We came up with all sorts of Roman names for him.  I think we settled on Magnus.  After letting the kids play with him, I think I need to take some linen thread and stitch the knots in place so they don't come undone.

Teether

I didn't find anything on medieval teething toys, but as I have three children in teething phases, I decided I needed a better, more period option than the plastic ones we have at home.  I found several varieties of bunny ear teething rings with a Google search, and decided to make my own.  The ring is an unfinished, sanded curtain rod ring.  The ears are made with scraps of linen, sewn into a strip with tapered ends.  This too needs to be stitched into place to prevent the kids from pulling the ears off.

I'm really excited about having these new "old" toys to take to the next event, and though I'm sure the kids will be more excited about what's going on than the neat basket of period-friendly toys, I'm satisfied that I've helped our family kit look a little more authentic!

*Post-Script Note: I received a comment on this post that was really vague (so much so that I didn't allow it), but it prompted me to want to add that I don't want to make it sound like people shouldn't bring modern toys to events for their children- that's just a choice I made for my family.  These toys are safe, but like any toys (modern or not) they do require supervision.  If you feel more comfortable/safe with your children playing with non-homemade toys, that's perfectly reasonable, and I won't judge you!**

Sunday, April 1, 2012

lessons learned : or not, as the case may be

I have learned many lessons in my time in the SCA, but it seems that, no matter how many times the same lesson about weather presents itself, it never really sinks in.  I hope that after yesterday, however, that it finally will.

We'd been avoiding taking all four of our kids to an event (all four at once for the first time, that is), but yesterday's somewhat local event made sense as the first opportunity to do so.  The weather forecast predicted a chance of rain, but it also predicted a high of 61 degrees and dissipating clouds.  The fact that a storm system blew through the area the previous evening somehow didn't register with us that the prediction of a fair day might have changed.  Even the foggy, damp morning at home failed to capture our attention as we hustled to get the kids dressed and the rest of our stuff into the cars.  As we drove north through misty rain, it somehow didn't register that it may be cooler, wetter and generally less comfortable than we had planned for.

We were all, every one of us, wearing two layers AT MOST, and only my daughter was wearing wool.  No hats, no gloves, and my 3 month old baby wasn't even wearing socks (and he kept kicking his shoes off at home, so I didn't even bother with them). After only a few hours there, realizing rather quickly that we did not have enough blankets and everyone was miserably cold, I ventured out to the store to purchase two large fluff blankets.  Everyone's nose were red, everyone's hands were like ice cubes, and the incessant cold wind penetrated even the new blankets.  By 2 o'clock, I felt guilty for having ignored the signs and for rushing my dressing of the kids so that they were left essentially exposed to the weather- primed and ready to get sick because of it.

A similar experience happened when I still had one child.  We went to an event and he was extremely under-dressed for the biting, constant, cold wind offered that day.  He was miserably uncomfortable, and completely at the mercy of the weather.  I thought I'd learned the lesson then.

After my twins were born, we went to a small event with them and my son, and were met with a drizzly, cold dank day that even offered spurts of chilling downpours.  The twins had no choice but to snuggle together in their playpen under every blanket, cloak and tablecloth we could muster.

And after each of these incidents (and others in between), I told myself that I wouldn't let it happen again, and that I'd plan better in the future.  So today I sit here and ask myself- when will I finally get it?  Why do I also seem to be "learning" this lesson?  I think it has something to do with that rush to get out the door, and the anticipation of spending a day at an event.  We get so caught up in the act of packing and going, that we fail to recognize that there is more to enjoying an event that just being there, and it's worthless to prepare for all the other contingencies if you fail to account for the one you can't control- the weather.

It's difficult enough as it is to bring young children to an event.  Events offer a very different atmosphere that the usual boundaries of home, and a whole different set of rules that have been untested (and in some cases unestablished by the parent before hand).  Add to that, however, a level of physical discomfort, and it's a recipe that spells danger for my hope that all my kids will love being in a medieval group when they are older.  The bottom line is that events like yesterday don't necessarily leave good impressions.

So here's what I've decided: 1. I will work into my project list new sets of layered garb for all 4 children that include a flannel wool top layer and hats, hoods or other appropriate headdress.  2. We will not leave the house for the event without first checking the weather again that morning for the event site AND without stepping outside to determine for ourselves the coolness we can expect at least for the morning hours. 3. We will be sure to pack at least one heavy blanket per child if the weather is expected to be below 65 degrees. We will pack at least one light blanket per child for anything warmer than that.

We'll see if the lesson finally sinks in.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

dress them well : 14th Century Pre-Schooler

I wanted to share with you the outfit my oldest son wore to the event this past weekend, to share how easy it is to create authentic garb for kids.  I can't claim this outfit as my creation- it was made entirely by my mother in just a few days using fabric from our combined stashes.  You've probably read before on this as well as my other blog that my son is very well suited to 14th century.  I realized several weeks ago that, if this was true, and since he's potty trained, it's time for him to be upgraded to a look that's a bit more authentic- namely the introduction of braies and hose.

1. White linen "braies" with attached gold linen hose.  The braies are simply shorts (cut to knee length) with an elastic waist.  When he gets past these early years of using the toilet on his own and learns how drawstring works, we'll upgrade him to drawstring braise cut in a more authentic fashion.  The hose were patterned after an old pair of my mom's hose (placed on his foot and sharpie'd the heck out of to get a smaller pattern.)  They are stitched into place at the front peak and again at the back to keep them in place.  Again, when he's a bit older and can understand how they are supposed to work, we'll actually tie the hose to the braies.


2. White linen shirt. A straight-seam constructed shirt, about hip length.  This was simply made according to his measurements, with gores added to the sides.


3. Brown wool blend cotehardie, lined with natural-colored linen.  This ended up a bit snug, and we ultimately had to simply sew it together up the front middle since we didn't have the time to do eyelets for a real lacing.  It ended up a little crooked in that processes, but he moves around so much, I doubt anyone really noticed!  It has set-in sleeves and a slight curve cut at the hip for the appropriate fitted look.


4. Addition of a fancy metal belt.  The belt was pieced together from two different types of metal pieces to form a long enough belt.  It has a hook fastener in the front with a bit that hangs down.  It ultimately busted during the day, but while it was on, it helped complete the look.


5. Addition of a brown wool hood (which I had previously made). No special tricks here- it's just a 13th century hood, sized for a young boy.


6. A pair of modern brown suede dress shoes (with rubber soles!) were added for his safety.  In this picture you also get a better sense of how he wore it- he's comfortable and suave!

He did get a little confused at home before leaving, thinking that he wasn't wearing pants, but we were able to convince him that he really was, and that it would be OK for him to go out of the house like that!  I think it's a great outfit that he'll get some use out of this spring, and will go a long way to introducing him to the way authenticity applies to himself.  These early days of slight cheats to get the correct look will go a long way to making him feel comfortable and accept that, if he wants to continue with a 14th century persona, this is how he'll need to dress.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

kid's cookery : The Ploughman's Lunch

Sometimes it can be difficult to think of the best lunch to have at an event, especially when there is no lunch tavern (or the food being served isn't precisely kid-friendly.)  At those times, it's good to have a fall-back that's easy to obtain, pack and convince your child it's a good thing to eat.  Luckily, there's an option that, though not exactly medieval, definitely has a rustic and "olde tyme" feel- the ploughman's lunch.

I was first introduced to this lunch concept at my very first SCA event nearly 16 years ago, and it remains my favorite stand-by.  It usually consists of one item from each food group (roughly), as well as some additional items for a taste variety if desired.  Essentially it's: a loaf of bread, a block of cheese, a block of meat, a piece of fruit and a hard boiled egg.  Additions include pickles, nuts, dried fruits, or veggies like carrots or celery.

There are two major benefits to keeping this "secret weapon" on hand for events.  First, it caters to kids in both dietary needs and the fact that no utensils are required.  Second, depending on the specific ingredients you choose, it can either be an extremely cheap meal that feeds several people, or a very decedent meal that you can share with just one or two people. 

The "easy-cheap" ploughman's lunch that we rely on is: a bag of 6 or 8 count white or wheat rolls from the bakery (like sandwich buns or large dinner rolls), a 16oz block of colby or cheddar cheese, on-sale deli ham that we've asked them to slice at the highest setting the slicer will go (usually about 1 inch thick), one small apple per person, and one large hard-boiled white egg.  We usually get a can of mixed nuts as well that we nosh on all day.

The "fancy" ploughman's lunch is anything more elevated than that.  A loaf of artisan, rustic bread, specialty cheese from the cheese counter at the deli (we like Irish Cheddar as a kid-friendly choice), a large slice of a high-quality, flavored ham (like wildflower honey ham), plums or any non-everyday fruit, and an organic, hard-boiled brown egg (like Eggland's Best).

You can up the fancy quotient as much as you want (and as much as your family will allow).  Since no one item relies on another, and nothing is prepared (you don't need to cook anything but the eggs), it's extremely easy to transport.  To make things super easy when lunch time comes around, take a moment before you leave to break off hunks of bread, cheese and meat and place them in a large linen napkin with the egg and fruit.  Close it up (tie the opposing corners together to create a hobo pouch) and toss each into your cooler.  When everyone comes to your day camp, ready for the mid-day meal, give everyone a pouch, sit back, and enjoy!