Camping Tips

Here are some basic tent camping ideas and notions for you to build on. Go camping, it's good for the soul!

Crew training

gathering firewood

This is the secret to going more often and havingCamping in camo

more fun. Everybody needs to know their jobs! Plus if you teach them what to take and how to pack it, there will be less for you to have to do and remember. Maybe even give the kids their own bag to pack. That way they can take what's important to them.

 

Here we have granddaughters Sarah on firewood duty and Kasey in her fashionable camo outfit.

Daytime Entertainment

This is much easier than you might think. Ordinary things you take for grant it at home can be lots more fun out camping. Any kind of ball game is a lot more challenging in the woods, for example. Our favorite thing is to make up games. On this particular trip my son Eric invented frisbee golf. The game is played by assigning various objects around camp ( a tree stump, a log, the tent etc.) as 'holes' and throwing at them in turns with the frisbee. 'Par' is decided just like in golf, the length to the 'hole' and difficulty getting there. You'd be surprised how quickly the course comes together. Here it looks like we have Sarah's sister Emily organizing a game of soccer or......something?

taking camping pictures

What's more entertaining than taking pictures of pretty things? Here is one I took of the San Francisco Peaks at Sunrise. This is something the older kids really get into. The digital camera has made this a very inexpensive thing to do and if you don't have one of those you might consider investing in one of those disposable type cameras for each of the kids.

 

Nighttime Entertainment

Stories - The old standby.

sunset

For those who don't know how to tell stories, I suggest, you go listen to someone who does. Watch your local paper for story telling events in your area. Go see them and talk to the performers afterwards. You may even find they are wonderful people who eventually become your friends. If you have a big event hire them! It's the perfect touch for certain gatherings. Also read stories. The internet is loaded with them. Once you get the hang of it consider trying to write a few yourself. I write true stories of things that happened to me when I was growing up. Heres an example - A Tale of an Arizona Flash Flood. You'll be surprised how much people, especially your kids, enjoy hearing the stories of your youth around a camp fire. One final note about stories - DON'T TELL SCARY STORIES TO LITTLE KIDS it may turn them off to camping forever.

Star Gazing - One of the first things an outdoor person should learn is how to find the north star just in case you find yourself 'on the trail' after dark. But in addition to that there are a lot of wonderful things to observe if you take the time to learn how to find them. Just looking at the moon with binoculars can be pretty cool but if you have a telescope (even a spotting scope) it's awesome. Still, stare gazing is best on a moonless night especially out away from city lights. Many planets and some nebulas are easy to find once you get the hang of locating constellations. See our star gazing links.

Music - Here's my personal favorite. If you play an instrument here's your chance for a captive audience. If not, there are a lot of appropriate camp fire songs you can find on the internet. Rounds are really cool if you have enough people.

Night Walking - Most people don't realize how well you can see at night ( without the help of flashlights and lanterns). I mean even on a moonless night. The secret is to let your eyes adjust to the darkness. It usually takes about 15 minutes. Hopefully you'll be camped back in the boonies off a dirt road away from lights, cars and other people. Try night walking down the road for a couple miles. You might want to take the flashlight but don't use it . See if you don't agree that at some point your mind takes on a different kind of consciousness. The thing about night walking is to learn to use your peripheral vision. Strangely you see things by 'not' looking at them, so to speak. In low light conditions you look to the side of what your trying to see. Night walking takes a little practice but I'll bet you like it!

Some Camping Recipes

Note: At the risk of stating the obvious, you should consider all recipes just starting points. They should be modified to the taste of you and yours.

Buttermilk Biscuit Donuts -

Here's an easy way to make some tasty donuts. You need refrigerated biscuits (get enough for everybody, one biscuit = 1 donut) and a bottle of cooking oil. A cup each of granulated and powdered sugar are also useful. I use my dutch oven for this but a frying pan would work fine too. As you may have guessed, the biscuits become the dough for the donuts. Just poke a whole in the middle and drop 'em in hot cooking oil. (Their should be enough oil so the donuts float.) Flip 'em over after a minute or so, they should be a nice golden brown and cooked on the inside, of course. The temperature of the oil and duration of time on each side become the trick and you'll just have to experiment a little to figure this out. Much like pancakes though, once you get things set, it's easy. I like 'em just like that, it's really just fried bread (but then I guess that's what a donut is). The kids will no doubt like 'em better if you sprinkle some sugar on them while they are still hot. Better yet put the kids to work by providing a couple of paper bags (brown lunch bags) one with granulated and one with powdered sugar. Alternately drop donuts in each bag and have the kids shake the bag. This makes for a nice uniform sugar coating. One little side note, if you open the biscuit and poke holes in them about an hour before you're ready to cook and set 'em in a warm place, they will rise a little so they'll be lighter and fluffier. Also, if you don't poke the hole all the way through, you can make a little dished out area you can fill with jelly for jelly filled donuts. Of course, you'll have to take a pretty healthy hike later, to work off that much decadence!

Cajun chicken -

Well you can't get much easier than this (and still call it cooking). Cube a couple of pounds of boneless chicken into 1/2" chunks. Dump 'em into a hot frying pan coated with olive oil. If you like you can throw in a half a bell pepper (diced as well) and liberally season with Cajun seasoning. ( Obviously you have to remember to take the seasoning which is easy if you have a chuck box. It's a standard condiment in mine.) Cook on medium heat till chicken is lightly browned, not too long or the chicken will be dry. That's it! I usually serve it with a foil cooked baked potato (see simple camping) and half a bag of stir fry frozen vegetables. (That way I can have a stir fry as another meal.) For some reason me and my gang tend to crave vegetables when we go camping. Hey, why fight it?

Strauss garlic potato salad - So named for my

potatoe salad

buddy Bill Strauss who taught me how to make this. It is a dish I usually make at home and take with me and it's also my favorite pot luck dish. The idea here, according to Bill, is to get as much varied color as possible. Here's the basic list of ingredients I use: 12 boiled potatoes (still a little firm), 6 hard boiled eggs, 1/2 cup carrots, 1/4 cup radishes, 1/2 cup red bell pepper, 1/2 cup green bell pepper, 1/2 cup purple onion, a couple of jalapeno peppers, a couple of full garlic gloves (that's where the garlic came from in the name), a small can of whole corn (not creamed), a small can of diced black olives and two or three sweet pickles. (When working with raw peppers, onions, garlic and such, be sure to dice them pretty fine and mix well else their taste will dominate.) Mix these ingredients well in a large bowl. (Some people like to leave half the eggs out of the mix and put them on top in halves.) Now mix in a cup of mayonnaise and two heaping tablespoons of mustard. Now try it. If it's a little dry put in more mayonnaise. If it's too wet, we just screwed up and put in too much, leave some out next time. Sorry :-( Just kidding, actually if you do get too much mayo in it, crumple up some of the hard boiled egg yokes into the mix. Finish up by salting and peppering to taste. It won't take a lot, this salad is loaded with flavor! This makes a lot of salad. A side note: Anything you use mayonnaise in, must be kept refrigerated! You don't need a case of food poisoning especially fifty miles from the nearest paved road.

Green chili burros-This is my favorite 'feed a lot of people quick' meal. Use about a half a pound of meat per person if your not having other stuff with meal otherwise a quarter to a third pound will do. Brown your preferred meat ( venison and elk are my favorites but beef and chicken work well too) in an appropriate size dutch oven. Dice up a half an onion and dump in a 20 oz. can of diced green chiles and a 20 oz. can of green enchilada sauce for every 2 pounds of meat. Stick a jalapeno in if you like a little bite to it. Cook at low boil for at least 20 minutes or as long as a couple hours (for more tender meat) and stir often so it doesn't stick. When ready put some on a flour tortilla and sprinkle on some shredded longhorn or cheddar cheese then roll into a burrito. Serve it on a plate with a fork (their kinda juicy). Some folks like salsa with them. You might also want to warm up a can of refried beans for a side dish and also so your vegetarian types can build a bean burro.