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Camping for Groups: Organization is Key

Camping for groups requires organization, activities and the dedication to keeping everything on track

Once you’ve organized camping for groups both large and small, you’ll still always find that your shining moment is about the time that everyone starts to arrive at the campground for Dads and Kids Camping weekend.

When you arrive on the first day, be sure to introduce yourself to the campground personnel and tell them that a pizza lunch for the next day is on you. Also let them know that the entertainer(s) will be coming, when this will be and where to send them. This is also true for the ice cream truck if you are having one.

Then, don’t forget to show up on Saturday morning and drop $50 on their desk for the pizza or, better yet, have it delivered. Include some assorted soft drinks. As discussed earlier, it’s a great way to make friends and to help ensure that you are left alone.

Back to the event itself. The entire weekend is “free form.” Camping for groups can be very relaxing and entertaining all at the same time. The dads and kids do whatever they want: hike, bike, fish, swim, play catch, hang out. They can do this because mom is not there to tell them to mow the lawn or clean up their room.

Many kids seek out the friends they made in previous years and perhaps have not seen in twelve months. Dads do the same, spending time with former neighborhood friends or co-workers.

A typical morning finds many of the kids are up at the crack of dawn on both Saturday and Sunday, ready to go with whatever the day’s activities are. Some will just be hanging out at their campsite, waiting for dad to prepare breakfast, while others begin their sun-up bike patrols fueled by a Hershey Bar, a few Cheese-Its and a glass of orange juice.

Families get together and share morning cooking responsibilities and food. Lunches and dinners are generally also communal events. I wrote a little bit about this in A Day of Campfire Cooking Recipes. It’s all a lot of fun and, as I share in my book, is a bit of a “life lesson” for the kids in sharing, self-sufficiency, safety and watching out for others.

Listen, I’ve got a great 45-page step-by-step handbook that shows you how to organize your own Dads & Kids Camping Weekend and it includes everything you need to know. Read more about my Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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Funny Campfire Songs for Kids

Funny campfire songs can break the ice and make memories from the first night

It’s not the “dadliest” practice on earth, but singing around campfires has been a long tradition enjoyed by all ages. When you were in college, the songs resembled something more like “Bottles of Beer on the Wall”, but with kids you can still come up with a few fun ones. Whether in small groups of five or in large groups like a Dads and Kids Camping weekend, funny campfire songs have always been a favorite.

In fact, funny campfire songs are a great way to bring the group together and is often helpful in easing young campers who may be uncertain about being in an environment that they aren’t familiar with.

Funny campfire songs are usually begun by an adult camper who then invites the others to join in and contribute their own songs.

Often, campers participate in campfire “rounds”, or songs in which each camper contributes a verse. Then, all campers join in on the chorus of the song and it goes “round” the campfire. Quite often, getting the campers to stop singing will be the biggest problem you’ll have once it gets going.

There are thousands of funny campfire songs which have been passed down throughout history.

Some of the better-known and traditional funny campfire songs are:

  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat
  • Frere Jacques
  • The Kookaburra Song
  • There Ain’t No Flies On Us

These classic singalongs are easy to teach and great fun for the entire group. Some other traditional funny campfire songs include:

  • Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Oh Susanna
  • Clementine (Oh My Darlin’)
  • California, Here I Come
  • Deep in the Heart of Texas
  • The Boll Weevil Song
  • My Bonnie
  • Kum Ba Ya

Another fun activity involving funny campfire songs is to take a traditional song (like many listed above) and have the campers make up new lyrics and sing them to the tune of the traditional songs.

Some of the funniest campfire songs come from this improvisation. For example, the group can invent new lyrics sung to the tune of Old MacDonald using names of different campers.

Another funny campfire song to try could be having campers make up new lyrics to On Top of Old Smokey using landmarks of the locale in which they are camping.

Some helpful websites that contain many campfire songs, including funny songs:

If you want to learn more about how to start your own Dads and Kids Camping Weekend, check out my 45-page Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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4 Things to Remember When Packing for a Camping Trip

Packing for a camping trip requires remembering the accessories for your accessories

When a dad is packing for a camping trip with his kids, it’s pretty easy to forget the bare essentials. Why? Because we’re focusing on emergency items and things that our kids can’t live without. We’re trying to avoid temper tantrums, and in turn, remember what’s important to our kids instead of what’s important to the whole trip.

During Dads and Kids Camping weekend, these bare essentials—that dads really can forget—consist of the obvious: a tent, sleeping bags, air mattress or sleeping pads, a portable stove for camping and a way to light the fire.

If you have a pretty cool head and have remembered all of the above, there are still other hidden things that can be forgotten when you’re packing for a camping trip. Between the yelling kids and the stress of loading up a car, I’m not going to blame you if you forget some of the following:

Packing for a camping trip? Remember the ESSENTIALS.

Even an air mattress has accessories. You will need bed sheets for the air mattress, a pillow, and something that can blow it up, like a foot pump. You will also need basic toiletries like toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brushes, shampoo, soap and towels. You may also need toilet paper, so call the campground and check before you finish packing.

Packing for a camping trip? Remember the FOOD.

Depending upon how long you’ll be camping, you will need to pack breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day. Having a few extra snacks on hand is a good idea because kids get hungry at the strangest times. Be certain to pack at least one gallon of water for each person in your party. That way, everyone stays hydrated.

Packing for a camping trip? Remember the CLOTHES.

You can pick your kids’ clothes for them or let them do it themselves. Make sure that they’re packed for the right season and have a rain jacket, boots and clothes for both cold and warm weather. You can always remove layers to keep cool, but if you don’t plan enough layers to keep warm, you might spend a few nights in the car.

Packing for a camping trip? Remember the TOOLS.

You never know when you’ll need firewood or a rope, so taking these things with you is a great idea. If you plan on breaking branches and digging in the woods to get wood to start a fire, remember that anything in the woods can have dew or moisture on it. Bringing dry wood to the campsite ensures that you’ll have something to start with when you arrive. Having a hammer to nail in the stakes of the tent is also smart.

If you want to learn more about how to start your own Dads and Kids Camping Weekend, check out my 45-page Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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A Day of Campfire Cooking Recipes

Start with a good cooler and end with a whole lot of fire-cooked campfire recipes

There’s nothing like waking up on the first morning of Dads and Kids Camping weekend to the smell of bacon and eggs. You see, when there’s have a fire pit at your disposal all weekend, you should take full advantage. There is nothing dadlier than “going caveman” for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There are a lot of campfire cooking recipes that be just as fun to make as they are to eat. Making anything during the weekend is going to require a good cooler to keep the food fresh, but it’ll be worth it on that first morning when you can start firing up your first meal. Even kids who skip breakfast at home, tend to enjoy breakfast when camping.

Breakfast: Eggs in a Tortilla

Ingredients:

  • Eggs
  • Bacon or sausage
  • Cheese
  • Green Chilis
  • Onions
  • Flour tortillas

Preparation:

  • Fry the bacon and sausage in a pan. Remove the eggs and bacon along with some of the grease. Scramble the eggs, cheese, chilis and onions. Once they are almost done, add the cheese and cook until melted. Spoon this mixture onto a flour tortilla and fold over. It makes a great breakfast that includes almost all your food groups.

Lunch: Pigs in a Blanket

In general, this is made in an oven at home and often pulled out for cocktail parties or get-togethers. When you’re camping, finger food makes for great meals. Pigs in a blanket work great for lunch because they’re simple and will fill the kids up nice and quick so that they can get back to fishing, throwing frisbees or whatever else is going on.

Ingredients:

  • Hot Dogs
  • Pre-made biscuits
  • Sticks for cooking

Preparation:

  • Put the hot dog on a stick. Open the biscuits and cover the hot dog with one. Once the hot dog is covered in a biscuit, hold it over the campfire while turning slowly as it cooks. Take a lesson from your experience roasting marshmallows and keep your dogs away from the fire. Once the biscuit is brown on all sides, it will be ready to eat.

A can of baked beans goes great with this meal. Just open a can and put it on the fire. Use an oven mit when handling the can because it will be hot.

Dinner: Hamburgers & Veggies

One of the most popular campfire cooking recipes is a simple hamburger and veggie combo using a foil pouch. All you need is some aluminum foil, the food and a campfire. Tear off a fairly large piece of aluminum foil and add the following.

Ingredients per foil pouch:

  • 2 sliced potatoes
  • 2 sliced carrots
  • One hamburger patty
  • Any other vegetable that is desired

Preparation:

  • Make a hamburger patty and put it in the foil. Add potatoes, carrots and other veggies and then salt and pepper to taste. Fold the foil up so that it makes a pouch for all of the food. Put this in the campfire and leave it for about an hour. Once the meat is cooked through, it is ready to eat.

Do you have any campfire cooking recipes you enjoy? Share them in the comments!

If you want to learn more about how to keep kids entertained and start your own Dads and Kids Camping Weekend, check out my 45-page Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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5 No-Brainer Camping Activities for Children

Pre-planned camping activities for children will keep kids entertained and happy for an entire weekend

During your Dads and Kids Camping weekend, you’ll find that no matter what the activity is, everyone will have a good time. The trick is that you have to provide the activities.

In many of our group trips, we’ve hired magicians and other performers to come in and entertain the kids. We’re talking about keeping over 100 kids happy, so it should be no big deal to spend a little extra money on some quality laughs.

In general, our yearly camping trip is a wonderful way for dads to bond with their kids and enjoy a weekend together in the great outdoors. There are many fantastic camping activities for children and even the dads can have fun participating in them. In fact, most of these activities you’ll have to do anyway!

Pitching a Tent
Dad can show his kids the proper and safe way to pitch a tent. You’re going to have to pitch a tent anyway, so you might as well recruit some helpers to keep it on the ground. Not only will the kids have fun sleeping in the tent, they will also enjoy knowing how to set it up the right way. Truly great camping activities for children should also teach them how to be safe.

Making a Campfire
Dad should certainly be on hand when a campfire is needed and by taking this time to show the kids how to make one safely and quickly, dad will have a helpful fire-starting sidekick for life.

Make sure to put on your “dad hat” when showing the kids how to build a fire, so that you’re not encouraging them to start fires in your backyard when you get home.

Cooking on the Fire
When you’re done building a fire, you can do the next best thing and show them all the fun and delicious ways to enjoy it! Break out the marshmallows, wieners and other food. Most kids and adults agree that everything tastes better when cooked on a campfire.

Teaching Fire Safety
This is also a good time to teach the kids fire safety and how to keep the campfire away from any bushes or trees that may catch on fire.

With a little research and practice beforehand, dad can even teach them the old-fashioned way to start a campfire.

Put your ego away and try the old standby of rubbing two sticks together or by using a flint and steel (the Boy Scouts have a kit for both). If (when!) it works, dad will surely be a hero.

Making Nature Trails
Other simple and no-brainer camping activities for children that will keep them moving and active include making a nature trail. Kids can use field guidebooks, field glasses, baggage tags and a marker. This is a great way for the kids to learn more about nature. While walking on a nature trail, they can look up certain leaves, animal homes, rocks and other items.

When they see one that matches, the kids can tie on a baggage tag, use the marker to say what it is, and keep moving along the trail to find more.

The field glasses will help them enjoy birds and animals along the way. By marking the items, they can invite other children to come and walk the trail and read about what they find.

These fun and educational camping activities for children will make for avid campers and long-lasting memories.

If you want to learn more about how to start your own Dads and Kids Camping Weekend, check out my 45-page Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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Top 5 Items Every Camping Essentials List Should Include

Putting these items on your camping essentials list will save you time, money and frustration

Camping is a fantastic way to get away and enjoy the great outdoors with your kids. However, forgetting essential items can quickly turn a fun Dads and Kids Camping weekend, into a frustrating now-what-do-we-do weekend.

Camping essentials list:

Shelter and bedding should include:

  • a sturdy tent that will stand up to the elements
  • sleeping bags or air mattresses for you and each child
  • extra blankets in case it gets extremely cold
  • extra tent stakes

Flashlights and lanterns are almost as important as a tent when you’re gathering items for the camping essentials list. It can get extremely dark at a campsite, so using a lantern is great for keeping the campsite well-lit until bedtime. Flashlights will be necessary for finding your way to and from the bathrooms or getting back to camp from a late hiking trip.

First aid kits are standard for any outdoor activity. It’s easy for your kids to trip, fall and get an infection. To keep mom at bay, bring a first aid kit that will cover any situation. It should always include:

  • Band-Aids
  • burn ointment
  • anti-itch cream
  • antibiotic ointment packets
  • scissors, gauze and tape
  • cold compresses
  • tweezers
  • bug spray and sunscreen
  • wound cleaner
  • allergy relievers such as Benadryl
  • pain relievers such as Advil and/or Tylenol

These kits can be purchased with all items included or you can make your own by putting all of the above in a small plastic lunchbox.

Water is crucial while camping to avoid dehydration and for cooking. It is recommended that you have one gallon of water per person for each day. Even though most campsites provide access to water on the property, be safe and bring your own water. There’s always a chance that an emergency will arise and the water point will be too far away.

Cooking equipment and food supplies should be lightweight, durable and easy to clean. There are several options when it comes to cooking at a campsite.

You and the kids can cook on the open fire, on a camping stove, or on a grill. If you have a Dutch Oven and plan to cook on an open fire, make sure to bring it. You can also make campfire foil recipes, but you might as well bring the Dutch Oven if you have one on hand.

When using a stove or grill, bring a skillet and a saucepan. Remember to bring disposable plates, bowls, silverware and cups for each person.

You will also need a can opener and cooking utensils, such as a large spoon and tongs.

Food should be items that are easy to prepare, easy to store and ones that are sure to be eaten. Keep all food items stored in coolers or airtight containers to prevent spoilage and keep animals out.

If you want to learn more about how to start your own Dads and Kids Camping Weekend, check out my 45-page Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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Campfire Cooking with Dad: Campfire Pizza Recipe

Add a pizza party to your weekend with campfire pizza

With supervision, even children can become a part of meal preparations during Dads and Kids Camping weekend. Many meals can be easily cooked on or over the campfire with campfire foil recipes or a simple cooking grate.

Camp food is often limited to such things as hot dogs and s’mores, but by using a Dutch Oven, Campfire Pizza can be added to the menu. Heck, you could even cook pizza with a cooking grate, but I’m going to recommend a Dutch Oven for the best results.

The Dutch Oven is an old standby for both kitchens and campfires and dates back to the 1700′s in Holland. The most popular type looks like a little witches cauldron, is heavy-duty and made of cast iron. If you add one of these to your camp cooking utensils, you’ll find that it’s one of your better camping investments because it allows you to prepare most anything over a campfire that you would be able to cook in the comfort of your own kitchen oven.

When buying your Dutch Oven, particularly for camping, try to get one that is cast iron and has a strong wire handle which will stand up. This allows for easier removal of the pot from the campfire. The Dutch Oven also needs three short legs, which will allow the air to circulate through the coals of the fire.

Campfire Pizza Recipe

  • 2 Pkg. Crescent Rolls
  • 1 Jar Pizza Sauce
  • 8 oz. Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 8 oz. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1-1/2 lb. Ground Beef.

Brown ground beef, drain. Set aside. Line the Dutch Oven with 1 pkg. of Crescent Rolls. Spread the Pizza Sauce on dough. Add browned Ground Beef, sprinkle cheeses evenly, use remaining pkg of rolls to make a top crust. Bake in Dutch Oven for 30 min. on a medium heat coals.

This is a great group activity, because just like an at-home pizza party, it’s easy to accommodate tons of people. Even if you nix beef on the pizza, you can still get everyone to bring bags of cheese and sauce. Crescent roll packages are easy to find as well, so even with these three ingredients, you have Campfire Pizzas that are easy to prepare and cook for a large group.

Just remind everyone to bring their Dutch Ovens too!

If you want to learn more about how to keep kids entertained and start your own Dads and Kids Camping Weekend, check out my 45-page Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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Campfire Scary Stories for Your Camping Trip

Keep kids on their toes with some campfire scary stories for the whole group

After setting up the tent, eating dinner and watching the sunset on the first night of Dads and Kids Camping weekend, it’s time to make a campfire to sit around. Depending on how many people are in attendance, you might have to make several campfires and divide kids up by age group if you want to tell scary stories.

Every campfire should have a flashlight for the old traditional light-in-the-face effect. With younger kids, try to take it easy because you’re the one who they’ll be waking up in the middle of night with nightmares!

On the brighter side, campfire scary stories are a great way to bond as a group and thrive on the adrenaline of fear in the dark.

Traditional Campfire Scary Stories

Everyone knows the story of The Babysitter, The Scarecrow or The Hitchhiker that terrorizes people home alone or while on the open road, but you can make campfire scary stories as a group using your own creative minds. AmericanFolklore.net has an archive of other campfire scary stories, such as the “Ghost Ship of Captain Sandovate”, which starts:

“When Captain Don Sandovate voyaged from Spain to the New World in search of treasure, he found gold in abundance. But among his crew there were many sailors who did not wish to share the new-found wealth with the monarchs of Spain.

On their journey up the Atlantic Coast, the sailors mutinied and imprisoned their captain, tying him to the main mast and refusing to give him food or drink. Day after day, the captain lay exposed to the hot sun of summer, his body drying up as the treacherous sailors worked around him.

Finally, his pride broken, Don Sandovate begged: “Water. Please. Give me just one sip of water.” The mutineers found this amusing, and started carrying water up to the main mast and holding it just out of reach of their former captain.” Read the rest of this story…

Creative & Original Campfire Scary Stories

To try an even more creative approach, choose someone to start the story with a single sentence. The person sitting next to them in the circle adds another line and keep going on in this fashion.

This engaging storytelling technique takes the edge off of scary stories, but also adds everyone’s attention and creativity to the tale. This method is great for younger kids, because it can only get so scary when it’s controlled by the minds of five and eight-year-olds.

Traditional Campfire Scary Stories

You can take a more traditional route with campfire scary stories by purchasing a book of tales before your camping trip. At book stores you can find treasuries of ghost stories for all ages. Depending on your kids, you can start with goofy tales for young campers and move up to terrifying tales for adults. This is where the separation of age groups with campfires comes in handy.

Ask others in your group to share campfire scary stories they have learned over the years. Frequent campers are more familiar with stories as they spend more time in the eerie woods at night on camping retreats.

Campfire stories are an ideal part of your group camping excursion, so be prepared with tales to scare each other. Just be sure to use caution with small children to avoid nightmares and tears.

If you want to learn more about how to start your own Dads and Kids Camping Weekend, check out my 45-page Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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Organizing Your Own Family Camping Holidays

Family camping holidays with dads and kids will create friendships and memories that last a lifetime

Dads and Kids Camping weekend is more than just another activity for the warm months. It has become a tradition for hundreds of families and what it means to the kids, their dads and their moms is immeasurable. These family camping holidays are something that the kids anxiously await each year. They create great memories that will remain with them for their entire lives and have resulted in friendships that they would otherwise not have made or maintained.

Just two days of hanging out with the guys, sharing good conversation, breathing the fresh forest air, enjoying a few cocktails and perhaps a good cigar. Imagine, no one to tell you what to do… or what not to do. This isn’t one of your traditional family camping holidays… in short, it’s your weekend (probably the only one you’ll get each year) to do whatever you please.

The only catch is that you have to remember that you’ve brought your kids along with you, so it’s not all “college weekend” again. But, beyond getting a little food into them each day and ensuring they’re not eaten by a big old raccoon, you’re on vacation!

The cost of a Dads and Kids Camping weekend

From a cost standpoint, there is nothing you could do with your kids that offers more “bang for the buck.” Other family camping holidays can cost hundreds, but the entire family cost of a camping weekend, excluding food, is around $60. That includes shirts, site and entertainment, no matter how many kids a dad brings.

If you have never camped before, you should know that campers are some of the most friendly and helpful people on the planet. Families share equipment, food, and tasks—such as setting up the tents. Don’t let your lack of experience in the art of camping deter you.

So, as the Nike ad says, “Just Do It!” You will be making possible a terrific experience for many dads, kids and moms (who we hope are relaxing at the spa this weekend). And the personal satisfaction you will derive from bringing some good to others is all the motivation you’ll need to repeat the performance the following year and for many years thereafter.

If you’ve been paying attention and you’re ready to start organizing your own Dads & Kids Camping Weekend, I’ve got a step-by-step 45-page handbook for you. My kids are all grown up now, so it’s time to pass the torch! Read more about my Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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The Perfect Smores Recipe

Making the perfect smores recipe requires a good stick, good marshmallows and maybe a little peanut butter

When you gather the troops together for Dads and Kids Camping weekend, there’s nothing more stimulating than getting everyone around a fire and making smores. In many cases, burning marshmallows and flinging them at trees is what kids look forward to most.

Hopefully with the perfect smores recipe, you’ll have less flinging and more eating.

Start with a good stick.

The perfect smores recipe begins with a good stick. Try getting either store-bought metal skewers or gathering sticks from trees.

The benefit to the metal skewer is that it’s more sanitary and can be used over and over again. Unfortunately, it also requires cleaning. If you have a low immune system or just happen to be a germaphobe, then these are the “sticks” for you.

Natural skewers, or small tree branches work best if you want a more authentic approach or just don’t feel like dropping the dough on some metal skewers. They also add a little flavor to the marshmallows.

If you want to stand a comfortable distance from the fire, make sure you get a medium length stick.

Proceed with a good marshmallow.

Don’t get those rinky-dink marshmallows—the bigger, the better. Push your marshmallow far enough down the stick so that it stays in place if it catches on fire, but not so far that it stays on the stick when you try to pull it off.

The most important part is to pay attention to your marshmallow. If you like them crispy, let it burn. If you don’t, keep the marshmallow over the coals instead of the fire. The perfect smores recipe is really a matter of how you like it—hot, crispy and melty or soft, warm and chewy.

Now squash it.

Now that you’ve got a good marshmallow going, it’s time to crush it. Grab a graham cracker and put a block or two of chocolate on it. Now squash the marshmallow between the bottom half (with the chocolate) and the top (another graham cracker). Let it sit a few seconds to melt the chocolate and then voila… the perfect smores recipe.

Want to go bold? Add a little peanut butter and make a truly perfect smores recipe like the folks over at Thoughtfully Simple!

smores recipe

Remember, organizing your own Dads & Kids Camping Weekend isn’t all s’mores and marshmallows. It’s a whole lot of organizing, scheduling and keeping in contact with your campers.

If you think you’re ready to start organizing your own Dads & Kids Camping Weekend, download my 45-page Dads & Kids Camping Handbook.

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