I’m a chick; and I camp. Not in the Holiday Inn as the joke goes. I don’t have anything against it, but camping is more of a Kumbaya around a campfire with marshmallows experience for me. But I wasn’t always like that. I was born and raised a city girl.
If you would have told me to pitch a tent, I would have laughed and probably only pitched a fit. Camping when I was a kid was in the backyard in my Dad’s tent. I didn’t make it past 9:30 because I was, well a city girl. If I would have had The Pocket Guide to Camping by Linda White and Kathleen L. White, I might have still pitched that fit, but no doubt I COULD have pitched a tent too.
Broken down into six chapters, the guide covers packing and preparing; pitching camp; safety and first aid; campfire cooking; outdoor activities and camp crafts. The first four chapters are what you might expect to find in any camping how-to manual. They aren’t lengthy but it is a guide, not a compendium. I’m sure there are books just on the subject of the proper technique for making a camp. This book is marketed as a “Children’s Activity/Outdoor” guide. It could easily double as a most basic primer for adults as well. The guide has your basic packing lists, do’s and don’ts and how to’s as well as some crafts and activities that could be done while camping. It also briefly touches on how to be a responsible camper by leaving the campsite cleaner than you found it and making sure that any fires that were made are well and properly extinguished. The last two chapters were something of a puzzlement to me until I remembered that this is a book for kids mainly. While I’m sure making leaf rubbings is really neat for the under 10 set, the over thirty-something set probably has done it enough to not need a step-by-step tutorial. But if you haven’t done one before, the directions are clear and easy to follow. There were also some songs with silly lyrics that are sure to please the youngsters (and possibly drive parents batty by the trip’s end).
The cooking chapter was really where I began to get interested in the guide. I’m a bit of a foodie and cooking something edible in a camp has always seemed foreign to me. Without proper kitchen set up I think I’d be forced to feed hot dogs on a stick to my camp mates. While they are mentioned, the recipes are more involved than that. We’re not talking chicken en-croute over a campfire-but your basic tin foil pouch meatloaf is covered. All together there are sixteen recipes ranging from breakfast to dessert (yes, s’mores are included) and I’m itching to try one of them out this weekend. The recipe is for “Rise ‘n’ Shine Breakfast” which is eggs and bacon cooked over a grill in a paper bag! Yes, you read that right. Line the bottom of the paper bag with bacon, crack the eggs on top, fold down the bag a few turns and cook it up. The heck you say. Well, actually, yes I do say. The grease from the bacon coats the bag and prevents the bag from catching fire – super neat. I’m sure most kids would think its super neat as well. They may not go for the stuffed mushrooms or grilled asparagus though. Another super neat idea is for making a solar oven out of card board boxes and some other basic craft supplies. It isn’t something that you can whip up at the campsite (well, maybe you can if you have packed for scrap booking as well) but it is something that begs a trial. Unfortunately for me you need sunshine, and here in Pittsburgh we’re in short supply of that key component. The idea that you can cook a veggie pie with a biscuit topping in 45 minutes completely wows me. I’m approximating that this homemade oven could reach 275 degrees. That’s based on the fact that it takes me about 15 minutes to make biscuits at home in a 400 degree oven. Take that easy-bake; no light bulb needed.
The camp crafts chapter is kind of a craft/camp accoutrement guide. Making cooking sticks and hiking sticks is covered. As well as how to make a toilet paper holder for your pit toilet (digging said pit is also covered in an earlier chapter). Ok, so I laughed at this “craft” but I suppose it has merit since its kind of hard to use soaking wet paper, right? Moving on to something crafty and fun and not at all related to bathroom habits; waterproofing matches. Neat, I didn’t know how to do it, though I could have probably figured it out given enough time. Thanks to this little gem of a book, I don’t have to ponder my wet matches any longer. I think the kids would love this. Who didn’t like playing with melting wax as a kid? Also, there are Safety notes a-plenty when it comes to these potentially dangerous crafts. The book actually starts off with a missive that the camper should have an adult with them at all times. Good advice, in my opinion.
To sum up, this 3×5 pocket guide is filled with tips, recipes, ideas and lists that are sure to get the majority of us on the road to camping. I can’t say everyone because some just prefer the Holiday Inn, but it’s a good investment for $10 because you never know when you’ll need a milk jug toilet paper holder.
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