Thursday, August 31, 2017

Our Very First Group Camping Trip

photo credit: Nadine Wegner

By guest blogger Peter Valentine

Our kids’ class has a tradition of reserving a block of sites at a Campground in the Catskills for a start of summer multi-family camping trip. While we love camping, we were reluctant to open our quirky unit to a 24/7 togetherness campaign. Our messy, disorganized family of five can barely get to school on time (OK, we’re never on time) and running with the pack is often a challenge. But this year, we decided to give it a try.

We started out early (for us) and still managed to be the last family there.  And as we tried to maneuver our food up to the now-waning community grill, and as our tent and gear still sat in a pile beside our car and as our kids’ requests for this and that grew more intense, all my fears were confirmed. This would be a prolonged display of the fact that our family was in a constant state of chaos management.

And then one Mom handed me a plastic cup of single malt whiskey. And another Mom and Dad fed our kids. And another Dad came over and helped pitch our tent.

Still, we were destined to be known as the weirdest family there. Apart from our ragtag pile of camping gear, we had all kinds of odd habits. For one thing, our teenager insisted on sleeping in the car. With my shame held at bay by the whiskey (it was good whiskey), I let slip to another couple that our older boy would not be sleeping in spacious comfort in our big army tent. Rather, he would be stuffed in the back of our aged station wagon that night, along with the coolers and the bag of oranges we would probably forget to eat.

The other couple immediately started cracking up laughing, but before I could think of a defense for this practice, the wife told us that her husband is terrified of the outdoors and has spent every night of every year of the class camping trip in their car. As night fell and we all laughed over our whiskeys he confessed, “I just hate tents. I don’t know what it is.”

So we all went to our tents that night soon after dark (as it goes with camping). And two campers went to their cars. And in the morning everyone was off running with the pack, getting sunburnt, eating other people’s food as we fed other peoples’ kids and we all gathered round at night for more whiskey.

I guess it does take a village after all, but the greater lesson I think that I learned is that every family has their quirks and you won’t ever know the joy of discovering them if you stay at home.

Peter Valentine writes a daily poem using words found in the New York Times crossword puzzle.   Visit him on Facebook here.  

You may also like:
Family Camping Packing Checklist
Camping recipe: Muffin Tin Eggs (great for groups!)

Download our popular e-cookbook: The Real Family Camping Cookbook

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Retro Camping Recipe: Hobo Dinners

I hope you enjoy this retro recipe from Betty Crocker - nobody takes pictures of food like Betty, am I right? In fact we make something just like this on camping trips - Stew in a Can. It's fun to put all the ingredients in a can, cover it up and let it cook away on the grill - or right in the hot coals of the fire. Kids can put whatever they want in their own "hobo can" and check it as often as they like. So maybe this recipe isn't so retro - or maybe I'm the one who's retro. ;)  Have fun! - Maggie

You might also like:
Retro Camping Recipe: Grilled Rice Pudding
Retro Camping Recipe: Campsite Quickie
Retro Camping Recipe: Camper's Coffee Cake

Download our popular e-cookbook instantly:

"Maggie da Silva has a cool blog and an e-cookbook devoted to the joys of family camping meals. Some smart ideas in here for summer hijinks on the road." – The New York Times