Monday, June 10, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Camping

Every summer we go camping.  We have a camper, so I can't really claim to be a "hard-core" camper I guess.  We try to go out a couple of weekends, and then we have an annual 10 day trip with my husband's family. It is truly one of the highlights of our summer, with long days playing games and going for bike rides, and long nights BBQ'ing and sitting around the campfire. The kids and the adults have a great time.

However, if you're used to certain comforts, I do have some tips to surviving the whole camping experience. I'm not a chicken - I'm not afraid of snakes, or spiders, or toads. But I do like a certain level of comfort, and I feel that in any event, one should be prepared. And camping certainly requires one to be prepared.

You may be saying to yourself  "Oh, no.  Not me, I'll never camp".  But you should! If for no other reason, you should go camping so that you can make the following recipe around the campfire - it's from the Chiquita Banana website, and is possibly one of the cutest camping ideas I have ever seen!

easy Chiquita Camping Bananas Recipe

Leaving the peel on the banana, slice the fruit twice lengthwise to create a 1/4-inch wedge. Remove the wedge. Fill each banana with half of the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and marshmallows. Fold peel over top and wrap tightly with 2 pieces of foil. Lay bananas in coals, and cook for 10 minutes, turning once half way through. Remove from fire and let them cool before eating.

So, now that you're in the mood for camping and sitting around the campfire, let me impart some advice. (Disclaimer: this isn't going to be a list of essential items to take with you, or survival skills you may need, or even what kind of tent to buy - it's some common-sense, "been there, done that" kind of advice.)

Before you go:

There are a few things you should do long before you even go camping. A little preparation will help you in the long run.

-  Fox Urine.   Before you go out on any adventures, be sure to spray Fox Urine around your camper.  Mice will not set up camp if they smell Fox Urine.  (It smells delightful to humans, so be sure to put a dab behind your ears.)

- Bounce Dryer Sheets.  Nothing says "comfort", like a camper full of spiders.  Avoid them by placing dryer sheets liberally throughout the camper when it isn't in use.

- Packing. Bring LOTS of clothes.  Clothes you don't mind never throwing away.  Cuz you will never wear your camping clothes again.  They will be impregnated with campfire smoke and bug spray for life.

To bring:

- Pull ups for potty trained toddlers.  No matter how long your child has gone without wetting the bed, inevitably they will pee in their sleeping bag, and you won't have a washing machine.  Don't be a Pee Hero, bring pull ups.

- Dog.  To make your camping trip complete bring your dog.  They generally have to be on a leash and/or tied up in campgrounds.  Hours of amusement can be had, endlessly untangling your dog from around trees or the picnic tables.

- And don't forget your plastic grocery bags.  Picking up dog poop is always kind of a chore - but why not turn it into a treasure hunt!  Fun!

- Clorox wipes.  Trust me, you're gonna want to disinfect the public bathrooms if you're staying at a campground.

- Hair straightener.  Just joking!!!  It will either be so hot and humid, or so cold and damp, you will NEVER be able to straighten your hair.

- Tweezers.  After several days, your eyebrows will look like giant caterpillars on your forehead.  Regardless, you're going to need the tweezers to remove ticks.  I don't care how many layers you wear, ticks will find a way to nestle right up!  It's quite sweet really.

- Hot dogs.  They are the easiest thing to cook over a campfire.  Don't try to expand your cooking repertoire for the kids while camping...  There's no need, because your kids will love you when you serve them hot dogs for 10 straight days.

- Bug spray.  Why is it that no matter how much bug spray you have on, or how careful you are to shut the door, you always end up with that pitched "ZzzzzzZzzzzz" in your bedroom (or camper) at 3 a.m. ?

When you get home:

- Apply Calamine Lotion.  Works on poison ivy and bug bites.  It's always fun to spot who just got back from camping!  Their whole body will be covered in pink splotches from the calamine application.

- Eat.  By the time you arrive home, you will have had nothing but hot dogs, marshmallows, and beer. You're going to need some healthy food and vitamins.

(Now, go google "camping tips" and find some camping information that might actually be useful to you!)

Even with the mention of fox urine and dog poop, this talk of camping is making me hungry for camp food. So here are a couple more quick snacks to make when you're camping.

Camp Fire Nachos

Campfire Nachos


Tortilla Chips
Can of beans or chili
Cheese - Use bagged Mexican style grated cheese for ease
Any other nacho topping you may want to add after heated - salsa, sour cream, black olives, shredded lettuce, chopped fresh tomatoes.

The best way to fix nachos on the grill is to use aluminum foil. Pull off a long piece of foil. Fold up the edges on all sides so that the nachos will stay in place.
If you are going to use beans or chili, you may want to heat them in a pot first. If you don’t have a pot, the beans will warm up when you melt the nachos.
Spread the chips on the foil. Pour the beans or chili on top. Sprinkle on the cheese. Add any other ingredients you desire on top. Remember to bring a can opener for the beans and a knife to cut any toppings.
Place the nachos on the grill. When the cheese is melted and the other ingredients are warm, remove the nachos. Allow them to cool a few minutes before eating. Add any of your cold ingredients (salsa, etc.)

Hot Dog Octopus

hot dog octopus recipe frankfurter weiner receipt franks sausages

Simply cut 8 "legs" in your hot dog as above. Cut a large piece of tin foil and put it on the grill over a medium flame. Put your dogs on the foil, and the legs will curl up as the hot dog heats.

A quick reminder: Father's Day is almost here! Camping "stuff" always makes a good present.

Here are a couple of great camping gift ideas:

Camping Hat (mostly just to embarrass your kids).  Big A keeps one of these sun/camping hats in the camper and breaks it out every year, to much eye-rolling and groaning from the kids.

Portable Grill. You can find them free-standing or for the table top.

Camping chair. Not only do we all have our own chairs for camping, we use them all year round. Most guys like the version that comes with the small cooler built into one of the arms. No need to get up and go to the big cooler, just store a few in your chair! Really does keep your soda and beer cold.

If you'd like to party, check out the following blogs!



Before and After at Thrifty Decor Chick (first Monday of the month)







Susan at said...

Lots of great tips Julia! My idea of "roughing it" - a motel with doors on the outside! I've tried camping a bunch of times and I enjoy it, right up to the part where I have to sleep outside! If I ever get crazy and decide to try it again I'll be sure and check in with you. :)

Unknown said...

Hi Susan! A camper makes things a little easier, that's for sure!

Sarah ~ Magnolias Attic said...

Love your fun tips!! I just might have to round up my grown kids and go camping, just to eat that banana concoction! I'd have to bring a cat though, but I don't know how he'd do on a leash....

Unknown said...

Hi Sarah, I'm sure the cat would have fun camping! LOL!

Diann said...

I love to camp and I love to play with fun different cooking ideas when camping. I have made the banana desserts before but, I haven't tried the nachos. Great camping tips! Thank you for sharing at TTF this past week!

Candy Waldorf said...

haha loved how you described your packing behaviour. I also love how you arranged everything for the blog and would like to know where that fan is from? its such a pretty home accessory