Wednesday, June 25, 2014


We went camping this month!  I'm amazed at how many people thought I was crazy.  "Camping?  You mean with a hotel, right?"  "Oh, what cabin are you going to?"  "With 4 kids?  Are you nuts?"  "Like, tent camping or RV camping?  Tent?  But, you're going somewhere with flushing toilets, right?"  My friends and family are so funny!  Silly people!  4 kids, camping, in a tent, for 4 days and 3 nights, with no cell phone reception and no electronics, no movies, no games.  Just us.

I thought I should document some of our camping experiences so that I can find it again later when I want to reference things.  Also, some of these tips and ideas might be useful to others.

First, THIS is why we enjoy camping:

Beautiful, right?!  How can you not fall in love with the mountains when it stores this kind of beauty?!  Just stepping out of the tent, you see gorgeous creation all around you.  Sitting in the tent, you hear the sounds of water and birds and silence!  It's just so peaceful!

And this was our meal plan:

Breakfast - on the road (we had a gift card to Cracker Barrel, so we went there)

Lunch - 7 Layer Dip with Chips 
              You want your first meal once you get to your camp spot to be something that doesn't require cooking.  This is because you may have been driving for quite a while already, and then you set up the tent, and your kids are bombarding you with their desires for food, comments of how they are so hungry and starving, perhaps they're even whiny and crying by then because it's been HOURS since breakfast.  Just trust me.  If you have to build a fire or set up a camp stove, they're NOT going to be thrilled with you.  I made the 7 layer dip because it was easy and included chips which meant that they wouldn't complain about what they were getting to eat.

Dinner - Tin Foil Dinners
               This time, we did a beef burger patty with baby carrots, onions for Daddy, and frozen cubed hashbrown potatoes.  We usually use butter inside but didn't this time.  Usually, the veggies stick to the foil, but this time they did not.  I sprayed the foil with cooking spray and on some I used a little bacon grease, on others I didn't, but none had problems with anything being stuck to the foil.  Also, I use the frozen hashbrown potatoes because it prevents you from opening your meal to find discolored and unappetizing potatoes.  I chose cubes because they cook fast.  Next time, we want to go back to using ground beef NOT already in a patty so that it's better mixed with the other foods.

Breakfast - Costco giant muffins!

Lunch - Croissant sandwiches & chips
              Nothing exciting, but I ALWAYS take enough stuff for PLENTY of sandwiches.  We went camping once where it rained on us the WHOLE time, so we sat in the tent singing songs and eating sandwiches rather than trying to build a fire in the rain and then someone having to sit out in the rain to cook our meals.  A loaf of bread is fine, but the croissants were calling to me, so we used those this time.  Make sure to bring your deli meat and cheese, plus dressings of choice.  In our family, that mostly just means Miracle Whip.

                 Keith caught his first fish, so we cooked that up and split the one fish between us.  Kiersten didn't want any, and Emmy doesn't get any yet, so 1/4 of a rainbow trout each!
Note to Self:  YouTube how to fillet a fish.

Dinner - Tin Foil Dinners
               For this one, we used dinner sausage links (not breakfast flavored with maple or whatever, just sagey sausage in small links... and we'll not be doing those in a tin-foil dinner again as they did NOT cook well), raw green beans, and diced or sliced red potatoes.  Only a couple potatotes were discolored.  For whatever reason, red potatoes don't discolor as easily as russets do.  I ended up having to get out the camp stove and cooking the sausages, but the green beans and red potatoes were delicious!  Again, don't forget to use cooking spray on the foil, and bacon grease if you want to.  And salt and pepper, of course.  I think next time, I'll slice up a kielbasa sausage.  Yum. 

Breakfast - Ham Egg and Cheese Croissants
                   Decided to put these croissants to use again.  I busted out the camp stove again, pan fried the deli ham slices, fried eggs, then topped the eggs with a slice of cheese that got all yummy and melty... then layered it all onto the croissant.  At the end, I started toasting the bread on the pan while melting the cheese onto the egg.  Everyone loved this one!  If you do this, be sure to buy a plastic egg carton in the same part of the store where you would buy a fishing license or sleeping bag (sporting department, usually).  I've seen people try to use regular egg cartons and they fall apart or eggs crack/break.  It's only $1-2.  Just pay it, it's worth it.

Lunch - Chili Cheese Fritos
              This WOULD have been nice, except our camp stove stopped working.  Not sure what the deal was.  We tried a new can of propane and both burners, but nothing worked.  It just broke.  I had already dumped two cans of chili into the pan (be sure to bring a can opener), so I had to figure out what to do with it.  It'll come up later.  Instead, we ended up eating randomness from the snack bucket.  I always take summer sausage, a block of cheese, and crackers when we camp.  Again, a "meal" that doesn't require cooking.  Be sure to bring a knife and cutting board for this.

Dinner - Hot Dogs & Chips
              Since we had all that chili that needed to be used, we put it on the grill piece over the fire and heated it up for chili dogs.  The kids didn't want theirs with chili, they still had just plain ol' hot dogs, the younger ones without a bun, the older ones with a bun - be sure to pack ketchup, bbq sauce, mustard, Miracle Whip, and relish (or whatever toppings your family likes) for this.  Chili and sliced cheese was pretty yummy, too!

Breakfast - Costco giant Muffins!
                   Just like your first meal at camp shouldn't require heating, neither should your last.  You'll be busy taking down your tent and packing everything into your vehicle.  You won't want to have camp forks out to roast anything in a fire, or a camp stove out when it goes in the bottom box in the car, or have to wait for a pot or pan to cool off before packing it.  These muffins were a hit!

Lunch - on the road
              It's about a 2 hour drive to get home, plus we had to stop for gas and milk (I made sure our milk and produce were all used up before leaving so that nothing went bad while we were gone), so we got some drive-thru deliciousness and took it home to eat (we weren't about to go inside somewhere having not showered in days and smelling like a camp fire).  This also gave us a chance to have the kids sit at the table to eat while we unloaded everything.  Not tripping over little ones eager to "help" is a nice perk!

Dinner - leftovers or something super simple and easy
               Once we were back home, I heated up frozen burritos for dinner after we unpacked the van and got laundry started and all showered up.  I was ready to sit down and enjoy the last few hours of my vacation.  Spaghetti with canned sauce would have been pretty easy, too.  Or leftover deli meat and cheese sandwiches.  Plan to take it easy rather than getting home and realizing that you have to cook and don't have fresh ingredients since you've been gone or that you weren't home to thaw some meat from the freezer.  Just plan on easy.  Pizza Hut would also be acceptable! 

So, that helps with meal planning, now how to entertain kids for 3 nights and 4 days....
This photo shows my two middle kids coloring, and my crochet project that I brought with me, plus our snack bucket... and a cute baby girl who enjoyed napping and crawling inside the tent!
Here is a napping baby, again.  She did a lot of this.  She didn't have any issues falling asleep while we were out there.  She just slept the same as she does at home.  However, next time I'm taking the pack-n-play so she has a play space that doesn't have rocks underneath... and a crib sheet to put on top of it so that it keeps the bugs out.
The boys ran around the campsite quite a bit, collecting sticks, walking across fallen down trees, and sitting on the rocks by the river/stream.  I ONLY took coloring books and crayons.  NOTHING else.  They never told me even once that they were bored.  They enjoyed being outside and exploring their surroundings.  Their only rule was that they had to be within a distance that allowed them to hear me calling for them.
We brought lots of snacks, and kids need snacks.  Trail mix would have been a good one, though I think we had a lot of skittles, M&Ms, and summer sausage with gouda cheese and crackers.
We really just enjoyed the outdoors!  The boys enjoyed fishing while I enjoyed the babbling brook!
We enjoyed the outdoors enough that my feet were atrocious!  Granted, I wear flip flops (so that I know no bugs have crawled into my shoes) and I stayed in the tent with Emmy most of the time.

This was about it!  It was relaxing and wonderful!  We're so excited to get to go again!

Just wondering...
What do you do when you camp?  What meals do you plan?  What entertainment do you take?

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