Brenna T. of FL
A great, easy recipe for the campfire that's fun for kids and adults alike is a fire roasted doughboy. To make this delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert treat, simply take a box of biscuit mix and make the whole thing, take a long wooden pole with a flat end on it, and wrap the dough around the top of it, making a cup-like shape. Cook it over the fire until golden brown and slides off easily. Then fill with pb and j, pie filling, cottage cheese and pineapples, fresh fruit, whipped cream, hamburger fixin's, pizza toppings, cheese, or whatever you can think of!
Esperanza D. of NM
Do your skin a favor and buy a box of unscented dryer sheets from the store ($1-$2). Place them in secure places around your campsite like under a heavy rock or the window of your tent. Why? Bugs are repelled by them!
Karen C. of IA
We bring plastic divided containers filled with all kinds of beads, cords, & wire, for craft activity to make decorations or jewelry. Larger beads for little ones. Use plastic trays to bead on, lined with kitchen towel. Beads are assorted - it takes time to pick out special beads to use & cleanup is easy, no sorting. We set up folding plastic tables for meals & crafting/game times.
Susan M. of ID
Use Keebler Choc. striped cookies instead of graham crackers for making smores. They are Good!
Ann B. of NJ
On our last camping trip with the Girl Scouts, I went to the dollar store and picked up packages of the snap glow lights. These proved to be a big hit. The girls carried them on trips to the bathroom and for light in the tents at night. They are inexpensive compared to buying flashlight batteries and last for 12 hours! They can even be worn around your neck for visability! When you leave, you just toss them in the trash bin and have no extra gear to cart home!
Elaine M. of CO
In a sandwich ziplock bag I put old pill bottles with useful camping things.
1. cotton balls soaked in lighter fluid.( a fast fire starter)
2. wood matches dipped in wax
3. tweezers, bandaids, needle w/thread, rubber bands.
Also put a pack of kleenex, a whistle, small mirror, and a tightly folded trash bag.
Each family member has this in their fanny pack. Great for an emergancy, the small bag can be used to drink out of and the large one for a poncho.
Sarah P. of TX
If camping with children, make a list ahead of time of all the tasks and activities you will do--cooking, building a fire, fishing--and plan for the children to perform age appropriate parts of the chores. It might take some creativity or special child-friendly tools, but children learn more and have more fun when they are participating in the important tasks. Young children can collect kindling, stir ingredients before cooking, make rock circles around the cooking area to keep campers safe, and plan menus. Even just carrying supplies to someone while they are working makes them feel included and important.
Never underestimate the abilities of raccoons to find, open, and pillage any container of food. We thought we had protected ourselves by packing all of our food in zippered collapsible coolers, and the raccoons were not at all deterred. From then on, the food stayed in the car!
Before camping this year, I made my daughter a special pouch for collecting rocks or interesting items she found. She wore it all week and came home with nature treasures that she is proud of.
Joan M. of FL
We raised six children camping from the time they were infants. I kept a crafts drawer in the camper for rainy days. It had coloring books and crayons for the younger children and scissors and colored paper and paint boxes for the older ones. Painting paper cups was the biggest hit and we used them for holding flowers or rock collections or anything else the children wanted to keep in them.
Debra H. of IL
We like making what we call hobo meals. Take hamburger and make it into a patty (or chicken leg, steak strips or other thin cuts of meat) place this on a nice size piece of foil shiny side up then add some diced potatos, onions, frozen or fresh vegtables, wrap it all up in the foil and place it over the fire on a rack let cook for about 15-20 minutes open up and eat off the foil no pans no plates very little mess my kids enjoy helping to make their own.
Get a tube of the cheap biscuits that you cook in the oven. Open the packeage and let the kids roll each biscuit like a snake then wrap around a hotdog fork or smooth stick, toast slowly over the fire. When browned, slide off into a bowl of melted butter and roll on a plate with cinnamon and sugar great for breakfast or a nighttime treat.
Cindy L. of WV
Laundry baskets make great packing boxes for just about anything but especially cooking or food items. They stack really well too.
Use Listerine mouthwash in a spray bottle for mosquito repellent on person and anywhere outside or in.
Kathy S. of ID
We love to have spaghetti which I make at home and then heat over the campfire. Remember to put dishwashing soap on the outside of the pan before putting over the fire for easy clean up.
Carolyn S. of WV
I like to put everything (especially bottles of stuff) in ziplock bags. It packs neatly & if it accidently comes open or breaks, NO mess.
Donna P. of PA
Freeze bottles of water to keep the cooler cold, then when it thaws...drink it. instead of buying ice.
Jane S. of MO
Dutch ovens are great for camping trips. You put the coals right on the dutch ovens to cook.
My husband makes a great peach cobbler. He uses a yellow cake mix, canned peaches and a can of soda pop (12 oz) - whatever flavor you want. His favorite is Kiwi Strawberry. He made some for me and it was so delicious.
Rosa B of MI
Make your own fire starters, use empty toilet rollers, fill with lint from dryer and coat with wax. you now have a great cheap fire starter.
Joan O. of FL
We do a lot of camping near water and in raining season and I will buy big gallon freezer bags and have children and self put a complete outfit in each bag. When they change dirty clothes go in bag. Keeps away moisture in clothes as well as smell. However, hold nose when opening bags to wash clothes.
I usually lay some twigs or leaves around tent that way we hear when small animals come. They step and they make noise and run away.
I usually have a scavenger hunt while camping. I hide a few items and also put things like cricket or frog and flat rocks ect... Then send out kids with a bug catcher and bag. They get bonus points for strangest find. The winner is excluded from dinner clean up that night.
Susanne T. of WI
Beef Kabob...marinate the beef cubes in italian dressing...marinate whatever vegetables you like (we do onions, red potatoes and mushrooms) in italian dressing. Thread on skewers and grill. Yum Yum!
Laura E. of MS
Our family loves camping and our favorite lunchtime sandwich which is so easy to make is a Grahm Cracker Sandwich. Mash a cup of peanut butter and 1 large or 2 small very ripe bananas with a fork. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon and mash again. Spread on one graham cracker square and top with the other.
I always bring about a dozen paper bags. When I need a tablecloth I just cut these full length. Then when the meal is done I simply roll everthing up in the bag and dispose of it. No messy tablecloths and makes clean up so much easier and fun!
Mary N. of UT
To make my meat last longer in the cooler, I take it frozen.
Jason F. of WI
Most campgrounds or state and federal parks sell firewood, but mostly in small bundles at sky-high prices. We always call ahead to local firewood brokers and order enough for our needs to take with, many of which will sell as little as 1/4 cord at a time (*note* to prevent insect-bourn tree diseases always buy from a local source within 50 miles of the campsite).