January 11, 2016
Símore Ways to Símore
Who goes camping and doesn’t end the night with a roasted marshmallow over the fire? Though the classic 1:1:1 marshmallow-chocolate-graham cracker ratio is enough of a crowd pleaser, we want to give our campers an upgrade.
- Spread a thin layer of Nutella over two graham crackers, lather with some peanut butter, and stick an Oreo beneath your toasted marshmallow.
- Slide a banana slice beneath a Reese’s peanut butter cup and in between two golden grahams. If eaten while hot, the treat will make a warm, melted chocolate taste.
- This is just like a regular marshmallow, but with added color and a fruity twist. Cut up fresh strawberries before sandwiching your s’more — tastes great with a glass of rosé (or a pint of ice cream.)
Nutter Butter S’more
- Change things up with this s’more by replacing graham crackers with peanut butter cookies. Spread Nutella on one side and stick a roasted marshmallow on the other. A slice of banana in between makes for the perfect indulgence.
- This graham cracker appeals to the savory camper; grahams, chili powder, cinnamon, marshmallow and dark chocolate make a tasty treat with a kick.
The Fancy Shmance
- Add a swipe of lemon curd to your white graham cracker. Incorporate a lightly toasted marshmallow with two pieces of white chocolate, and there you have a decadent treat in the middle of the forest.
The Reverse S’more
- After roasting your marshmallow, dip your grahams into melted chocolate and drizzle with nuts. This s’more is sure to turn your taste buds inside out!
January 11, 2016
Everything You Need
We came up with a list of 7 clothing items to remember before you embark on your adventure:
… And not a flimsy drawstring. You need something large and sturdy to carry heavier items like pots and pans, grill parts and food items.
- Hat or bandana
Make sure to prepare for the sun. Long hikes on hot days can make or break your camping experience, especially if you develop a dry scalp.
- Hiking boots
Large roots or slippery rocks are difficult to overcome in ordinary sneakers. Make sure to protect your ankles and support your legs with sturdy shoes to avoid slips and falls.
- Hiking socks
Comfort is key when you’re on your feet all day long. Invest in a pair of tall and thick socks to avoid cutting your ankles.
- Quick-drying pants or shorts
Perspiration – whether from your body or the weather – makes for an uncomfortable time in the outdoors. Make sure to pack a pair of these so you’re prepared for anything.
For girls, a two-piece makes for an easy time to visit a hidden area in the woods (A.K.A. nature’s bathroom.) We recommend one that is easy to slip on or off.
It gets very cold in the woods at night. Don’t forget to pack a pair of these – especially for young ones – to wear underneath other clothing for an added layer of warmth.
January 11, 2016
Make Camping Your Next Romantic Getaway
1. Careful Planning
Is your significant other experienced with the outdoors? Does he/she like outdoor activities, or is s/he more excited about relaxing in beautiful scenery? We suggest starting where you’re comfortable while incorporating exciting new ideas – this way both of you will be prepared for an adventure.
2. Be Prepared
Remember to pack extra batteries, a tarp, comfortable layers and a water infiltration system – these are some of the most common complaints we hear from first-timers. Visit our list of Everything You Need (link to other blog post) before you go. Don’t let a silly mistake ruin a special time with your special someone.
3. Plan for Bad Weather
Don’t rely on your weather app to keep you dry in a slew of rain. A great way to be prepared is packing polyester over cotton or nylon-based fabrics. Cotton absorbs water, so if it rains, your clothes will stay wet longer. Nylon expands in water, so the water is likely to stretch out your clothing, again, making them more difficult to dry.
Most importantly – enjoy the beauty of nature! Bring along your partner’s favorite meal to cook over the fire. Nothing tastes as sweet as a freshly cooked meal in the outdoors.
January 11, 2016
Know Your Plants
Watch out for these three-pronged, almond-shaped leaves that appear in groups of three. Poison ivy has lighter-grey berries and a hairy vine, if you come in contact with it you will experience burning and itching. Though it may be difficult, try to refrain from scratching, to avoid spreading the toxic plant oils to the rest of your body. We recommend IvyBlock or calamine lotion to soothe the pain and prevent the rash from spreading.
This plant is a three-pronged leaf with lobed edges. It grows as a dense bush in the sunlight, or a rising vine in the shade; it changes colors to bright green in the spring and deep red in the summer or fall. Similar to poison ivy, contact with this plant will result in an itchy, burning rash.
Poison sumac is a dangerously poison plant that grows in swampy, wet areas. It grows about seven to nine leaves on each stem and typically has bright red veins. Though not as common as poison ivy and poison oak, it does appear in the Eastern United States.
If you do encounter any or all of these plants, wash off the contacted area with soap and cold water. Signs and symptoms will usually occur in one to two days after exposure, but you should react immediately.
January 4, 2016
Family Camping Games
Camping as a family is a true bonding experience. Spending quality time together, unplugging the electronics and playing fun games, away from the regular routine at home, benefits everyone; parents and children alike. Believe it or not, playtime is important! Of course, it’s fun, but it also keeps you fit, builds healthy positive relationships, and creates lasting happy memories.
A good family camping game has just a few important criteria. It should be enjoyable for all ages and get everyone in the family involved and it should have simple rules and use ultra-basic equipment, or even better, – no equipment at all.
For a fun outdoor group activity, take advantage of the family campground or RV park, or break away to a nature trail for a scavenger hunt. It’s one way to expose children to nature and also get the whole family up and out and on their feet. You can either set up objects in advance for the family team to find or keep it simple and make a list of natural items to be collected, such as a feather, a bird’s egg, a triangular shaped rock, a pinecone, etc. You can also allow the family to bring along a cell phone and take pictures of things on the list that can’t be picked up and put in the bag, such as a squirrel, a mushroom, a deer, a nest, or a red bird.
Stargazing at night, on a constellation hunt, is fun and educational at the same time. You can bring along a book depicting the night sky and try to find as many constellations as you can while telling the stories about how each constellation got its name. With some added imagination, each member of the family can find other shapes hiding in the stars and create a story and name a constellation of their own.
Another activity that challenges the imagination is story telling, round robin style. Round robin story telling is a great way to close out the day while the family is gathered around the warmth of a campfire, back at the campground, in the darkness of night. Each story can be created by the whole family, one member at a time. To begin, one person starts a made up story with one sentence or several, followed by each member of the family taking a turn to add their own part to the story; as much or as little as they want. The story can be scary, funny, adventurous or a combination of themes that takes you on a wild ride! The game gets your imaginative juices flowing for some quick thinking and even small children can contribute.
January 2, 2016
Cooking outdoors is the pits. But thatís a good thing!
Picture this scenario: after a long hike in the woods, you and your fellow hikers settle down to make camp for the night only to discover that you have no cooking equipment! Sure you have plenty of food, but no pots or pans! Luckily there’s a solution, and while it takes a bit of work, you’ll soon be enjoying a hearty feast cooked with nothing but your wits. Let’s take a good look at this marvel of wilderness cooking: the pit oven!
- Start Diggin’
- No rocket science here! Using a spade, a sharp rock, or even your bare hands in a pinch, dig a hole 2 feet long X 1 foot wide X 1 foot deep. Exact measurements aren’t really necessary, but it helps keep things organized.
- Get Ready to Rock!
- Next gather a collection of rocks and line the bottom of the hole. Smooth, heavy stones with no pitting or cracks are best, as these are less likely to split or pop from the heat. If you can find any flat stones nearby, it’s a good idea to line the hole with them so as to absorb and reflect the heat in the next stage.
- Fire it Up!
- Build a campfire over top of the rock-filled hole using plenty of kindling and larger pieces. The fire doesn’t have to be very sustainable, but avoid using too much brush or other materials that create a great deal of ash without generating much heat. So long as the fire can burn for two hours or so at high heat, you’re in the clear. Alternatively you can heat the rocks separately in the fire before placing them in the hole, but it can be hard to move them from the coals to the pit when hot.
- Dress in Layers
- Depending on what you’re cooking the preparation may be different, but it’s important to cover your food in protective layers to keep ash and other debris from contaminating it during the cooking process. Large wet leaves work best, but if you’re less about authenticity/survival and more about novelty, aluminum foil is a good substitute.
- Ashes to Ashes
- Once the fire burns itself out, scrape the ashes away from the rocks as best as possible until the rocks themselves are cleanly exposed. Cover the rocks with an inch of damp earth, then add handfuls of wet leaves, green pine boughs or other vegetation to add another inches of moisture-filled materials to the pit.
- Bury the Treasure
- Put your wrapped food in the pit and…bury it! Yep, you heard right: bury the food with dirt and level it off, clearly marking it for later. The heat from the rocks radiates up from the stones while the dirt and leaves insulate and cook the food. For fish, about an hour and a half is a good cooking time. Steak, pork, or fowl is usually 2 and a half hours as it is typically thicker and takes longer to cook through.
- Unearth your bounty
- After the allotted time as passed, gently dig up your food and enjoy! The dirt and surrounding materials will still be hot, as will the stones, so use caution. Don’t dig too eagerly and pierce the wrappings or you could risk getting dirt on your meal.
January 2, 2016
Snow Fort Surprise! Tips for building with the white stuff
Though it got off to a slow start, winter is finally here spreading it snow all across the country. Some people might frown when they see those flakes falling from the sky, but campers know the truth: this is snow fort country! Here’s some tips on how to build the best snow-made structure EVER!
- Judge your snow wisely
- While scientifically there are several types of snow classifications, for our purposes we’re going to divide snow into the following: Powder, Packing, Crust, Slush, and Ice. Depending on the type of snow you’re dealing with, it can be easy or difficult to form shapes (and thus make a fort) out of it. Powder is just like it sounds: loose and fresh, which doesn’t compact very well. Packing snow has a higher moisture content and holds a shape, i.e. the ideal fort material. Crust (snow with a crisp, frozen layer on the surface) works in a pinch, but can be hard on the hands with its sharp chunks. Slush is snow saturated with water, and while it can be compacted fairly well, it soaks through winter gloves almost instantly and does not have much structural support. Ice is our last contender, and while it is the strongest snow fort material, it’s also nearly impossible to shape. For best results, stick to packing and crust snow-types.
- Plan your construction
- To make sure your fort looks the best and holds up to the worst snowballs imaginable, start with an outline. Carve out and pack down a rough perimeter of where your walls will be for extra foundational strength. Sometimes adding sticks or branches to make the rough shape can help keep your eye from wandering on an otherwise uniform, white surface. When making your “bricks,” stick to containers that have a uniform shape and can handle moisture, usually metal or plastic. Tupperware containers or buckets can be especially useful, but don’t be afraid to improvise. Remember, it’s supposed to be fun as much as it’s functional!
- Reinforce the garrison
- Last but certainly not least, one of the best not-so-secret tricks of making a snow fort stand up to the enemy is our old friend: ice. Take several small buckets of water and pour it all over the walls and sides, working from the bottom up to prevent the added weight from collapsing the fort before it freezes. Water will melt the finish of the fort slightly, so don’t be afraid to patch it with more snow after your watery coating is complete.
And there you have it: the perfect snow-fort recipe! Stockpile an arsenal of snowballs and you’re ready for battle. Good luck, snow warriors!
January 2, 2016
Geocaching Ė A Fun Activity for the Whole Family
While on a family camping trip, there’s no better family activity than working together as a team with a shared mission. Geocaching is a fun and exciting way to get exercise outdoors while using your brain power at the same time. Hearkening back to days of yore, geocaching takes you on a real-world, outdoor hunt for treasure, but today, the prize is found hidden above ground, (instead of buried in a locked chest), a handheld GPS stands in for a weathered treasure map, and a set of geographical coordinates and clues replaces where, “X marks the spot”, on a map. Geocaching is a new millennium treasure hunt that can be enjoyed by anyone, alone or in a group, no matter what age, and pretty much anywhere in the world!
So, what is geocaching and how does it work? It can be called a game or activity where, first off, caches; small treasures or trinkets, are hidden all over the world by other geocachers/players. Along with the cache, inside its weather-proof container, the owner of the cache places a log book and pencil. Once the cache is hidden, the GPS coordinates of the treasure are recorded and shared online. Some clues may also be given about the cache along with a rating of level of difficulty, in the search and terrain (from easy to challenging). A cache can be as small as a film canister or as large as a metal ammo box and you never know what you’ll find inside!
While doing some family tent camping or on an RV camping trip, families can search geocaching.com, or one of the other geocaching websites, in advance, to find where there are treats hidden in the same geographical vicinity as the campground. Once you search the listings, all you need is a handheld GPS, which you will use to navigate your way to the cache, using the coordinates listed on the internet site. Sometimes, to make it more intriguing, there are encrypted clues to figure out along the way. Not all caches are the same, but generally, once you find the cache, you would sign the logbook inside the cache container. Sometimes, you may take the treasure and replace it with one of your own for the next family to find. You can also contribute to the online log for that particular geocache, about your experience.
Geocaching is a popular ‘sport’ these days because it requires minimal gear and expense. It’s a skill-building exercise in problem solving, puzzle deciphering, clue identifying, navigation, and orienteering as well as a total family bonding experience.
January 2, 2016
While on a camping trip, part of the fun is taking time to enjoy the natural environment around you. It’s always refreshing to break away for a bit from the family campground or RV park for an excursion to see the sights or to get some exercise. Whether your preferred activity is called hiking, trekking, backpacking, or mountaineering, it’s smart not to leave your home base without some key items in order to stay safe and prepared for the unexpected.
Back in the 1930’s, a Seattle based outdoor adventure organization called, ‘The Mountaineers’, wrote the book (literally) on how to be prepared when exploring the outdoors. Hiking equipment, techniques, and even terminology, have all evolved tremendously since then, but their original essentials list of the most important, basic takealongs, still stands today as the gold standard.
The list can be tweaked depending on terrain, weather, length of the trail, and the level of
difficulty. You’ll likely not use all of the listed pieces, but the truth is you’ll never fully
appreciate the value of all of these items until you find yourself in a situation where you
really need one of them!
- Navigation Tools – maps, compass, & GPS. A GPS is great, but a compass doesn’t require batteries so it’s an important backup in case of emergency
- Sun protection – sunscreen for skin and lips with a high SPF and UV filtering sunglasses – especially if you’re hiking above the tree line
- Insulation – extra layers of clothing, raingear, extra socks, a hat, & appropriate footwear
- Illumination – flashlight, headlamp, extra batteries – to find your way in darkness or to signal for help
- First-aid: prepackaged hiking kit – and learn how to use it before you go.
- Fire starters – for warmth or to signal for help: butane lighters, candles, matches in a water-proof container
- Repair kit – knife or multi-purpose tool to cut cloth, bandages, for food prep and to open cans, etc.
- Nutrition – food, snacks to last longer than you expect to be gone
- Hydration – wide-mouthed, easily refillable water canteen
- Emergency shelter – plastic tent or giant trash bag and a reflective blanket
- Insect repellent – wicking long sleeved shirt and pants and chemical repellent
- Signaling device – to call out in case of emergency: whistle, 2-way radio, cell phone
And a word to the wise… before you head out, get a weather report so you know how to dress. Also, tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return so if you’re way overdue and/or lost, you can easily be found.
January 2, 2016
What Makes a Good Family Campground or RV Park?
What does camping mean to you? Are you a minimalist camper? An outdoor survivalist who’s good to go with a knife, a sleeping bag, and a Bandaid? Or are you a glamper, who prefers a luxury mattress, a place to plug in an electric blanket, big screen TV, & washer/dryer? For most, camping lies somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. But, no matter what type of camper you are, camping knows no age limit and is good for the soul. The choice is yours! Decide what type of camping you and your family would like to do; tenting, RVing, or cabin rental, and then find the best family campground to suit your desires.
The first priority in campground choice is location, location, location! Be sure to look for a campground that’s set back away from any highway street noise. Camping is for enjoying the pleasures of the outdoors, so choose a location in a natural setting such as near mountains, a river, lake, ocean beach, or natural forest. It’s also a good idea to find a campground located near attractions of your family’s interest, such as theme parks, historical sites or popular local entertainment and events.
A good RV park or campground will have ample site spacing and aesthetic landscaping to provide a sense of privacy and ambiance. Nothing crushes the camping mood more than a campground that presents as a glorified parking lot!
Campground amenities, or lack thereof, can make or break your camping experience, so always check out what’s provided, in advance. Staff at a reputable campground will provide friendly, concierge service to explain the lay of the land, facilities, and amenities offered. Do you need only the basics, like, showers and electrical/water hookups for a onenight stay? Or do you want to feel more like you’re on vacation? Look for a campground that provides family friendly activities and areas for enjoying the outdoors such as: a lake for boating or fishing, hiking trails, playgrounds, swimming pools, sports courts or fields, a recreation/game room, picnic tables and covered outdoor pavillions. Cabins feel more like home if they’ve got appliances like a stove, fridge, microwave, coffee pot & toaster and are stocked with cookware, utensils, and a grill. It’s also a bonus to find comforts on the property such as a general store, free showers, laundry facilities, firewood & fire circles, and a quality WiFi signal. Amen for those amenities!
To learn more about where to find great RV parks and campgrounds in the U.S. visit RVintheSun.com.