Tag Archives: Camping

Fun Friday: Ideas for a fun camping-themed birthday party

31 Mar

My daughter started planning her camping-themed party months ago and this shirt was a gift from one of her sisters to wear that night.

We are campers.

We have camped across the country for weeks on end, we are one Eagle Scout and four Girl Scouts. We definitely know camping and we love it. Therefore, many months ago during the winter, when my youngest daughter asked for a camping-themed birthday for her party this spring, I was excited. It was something we hadn’t done before as a birthday party theme, and although as our kids get older their parties get much smaller, it was a fun theme for any sized party, and one that was relatively easy and very inexpensive to plan, especially for a small group.

The Taco in a Bag meal even includes some veggies, if they choose to take the lettuce and tomatoes as their toppings.

This daughter also happens to be the daughter that has to follow a gluten free diet, so that makes planning meals somewhat more challenging, but for this party, it was relatively easy. As Girl Scouts, one of the favorite camping meals is Tacos in a Bag. As a family, we have a favorite summer taco salad which is similar to this one from Tasty Points. Tacos in a Bag is the best of both worlds if you’re a kid. To make them, you take individual packs of Doritos (which are now gluten free), the kids crush them up while they are in the bag, and then they layer their desired taco fixings in the order in which they want them, eating them right out of the bag. Be sure to either use a homemade taco seasoning mix or one that is gluten free. The brand we used was McCormick and was gluten free, and we prefer to use ground turkey rather than ground beef. To be on the safe side, I also grabbed a regular-sized bag of Doritos to have on hand for extras in case I needed them. I did not, so we have them to use here at home when needed.

I already had these on hand, so the recipe I found was perfect!

Initially, she thought of S’mores as her dessert of choice, but I hesitated, as I was recently having some trouble finding gluten-free graham crackers, even though I knew we’d had them before. I needed a different plan in case I couldn’t find them again in time for the party. Oddly enough, one afternoon, a recipe came across my Facebook newsfeed for this vegan, gluten free recipe for S’Mores cupcakes. Although we are not vegan, this recipe from Pickles and Honey provided me with just the inspiration I needed to formulate a plan to make my own S’Mores cupcakes for the party.

I already had graham cracker crumbs on hand that were gluten free and I had plenty left. To create my cupcakes, I filled two muffin trays with paper liners and sprayed the liners with nonstick cooking spray. I put about a teaspoon of the crumbs in the bottom of half the paper liners and left half without, in case anyone didn’t think they liked the graham cracker crumb idea. I used a gluten free Funfetti cake mix to fill the liners with batter and cooked them according to the package directions. To keep track of which were which, I used two different patterns of liners, one for each kind of cupcake. The white liners had crumbs at the bottom and the green did not.

My most favorite camping party idea. Thanks to Pickles and Honey for the initial inspiration!!

Although I normally make my own frosting, and I had one in mind that I had planned to use for the party, the day of the party came quickly and it was a busy one. When I was out picking up last minute things for that night, I saw a container of pre-made frosting, realized I could save myself some unnecessary stress and some time by just using that for the kids. I had planned on letting them frost their own cupcakes (sharing one little bowl of frosting between two kids) while I got ready to roast their marshmallows over my gas stove burner. The pre-made frosting would be just fine for our purposes.

When it came time for dessert, these cupcakes were a huge hit and I was so excited as to how they came out. I used a low, back burner and skewers to roast one marshmallow at a time, and I did them myself, rather than letting the kids do them for this first time around. The cupcakes went quickly, both varieties, and at the end of the night there were just a few left over and a little bit of frosting to keep in the fridge for them.

When your sister gives you glue, glue and more glue for your birthday, you have plenty to spare for a little party slime-making.

For the rest of the party, we had two crafts. First off, they made the currently very popular DIY slime, since my oldest daughter had given her sister several bottles of glue as part of her gift, and I’d been sure to restock all the food coloring, baking soda and corn starch we might need, depending on the DIY recipe they used.

I had also asked a summer camping friend who was going to be at the party if she wouldn’t mind teaching all of the kids to make friendship bracelets. While we were together this past summer at the local campground, she’d done a really great job teaching all our kids how to make the bracelets, and we had all the materials here. We just needed her expertise. I even picked up safety pins so that they could pin them to their sleeping bags or pillows and work on them while they were camped out in our living room watching a movie.

For our movie choice, we opted to show the old 1960’s version of “The Parent Trap,” which has some summer camp and family camping scenes in it. We had found it on Netflix ahead of time. We also had the remake recorded here at home, but we felt that the older version was one that the kids might not have seen before. We thought that if there was time the next morning, or if they wanted to at night, they could watch the newer version instead of or in addition to the older one, but they never did. They got a kick out of the older movie and had not seen it before.

All in all, it was a great night, with a fun group of kids and this is a party theme I’d highly recommend for those who are camping fans. It got us looking ahead to our camping days this coming summer, which will be here before we know it, and we’ll be having S’mores and campfires outside, and making friendship bracelets all summer long.


Experiences like no other

4 Jun

Girl Scouting has provided our girls with experiences they might not be able to get anywhere else.

I’ve just returned from a Girl Scout camping weekend. Not quite a whole weekend, but about 36 hours.

Long enough.

It was not my first time going to, participating at or working for a Girl Scout Camp. I’ve been a leader for five full years now, and as a kid I was a Girl Scout for many years. I went to camp then, I’ve worked there as an adult so my kids could go, and I’ve chaperoned camping trips for all my daughters with this weekend being the most recent one.

Of course it rained like crazy yesterday, poured actually. Again.

And in my head through much of the trip I was thinking, “I’m getting too old for this ‘job.'” I thought it as I drove half the troop down there in the rain yesterday with my co-leader driving the other half down right behind me, and I thought it as I traipsed all through the camp in the rain, and I thought it as I laid awake in our leader “cabin” until 4am listening to them laugh and giggle and tell stories.

Four A.M.

But, throughout the whirlwind weekend I also watched them in amazement, thinking and talking with my co-leader (who was a saint to spend her wedding anniversary at a rainy camp in a cabin with me rather than at home with her husband of 16 years) about how much these girls have grown and matured and changed from when we first started this troop together as Brownies, second graders, five years ago. We looked at them all, not even believing it.

We had eight really great stations to rotate through at camp yesterday which took us from first thing in the morning until the movie and campfire at the end of the night. We watched them create beautiful beaded jewelry at the jewelry-making station, being instructed in the craft by some of the leading women in the jewelry industry here in our state. We listened along with them as they learned about how to write a check and a deposit slip at the financial literacy class, from an instructor at one of the local universities. We cheered and encouraged them as they shot their bow and arrow during archery class, knowing full well that some of them were doing it for the first time. There was a science class, a tie-dye station, a dance class where they learned the moves to an upcoming flash mob taking place this summer, S’Mores, and they were laughing and smiling, and hugging, and chatting, and laughing some more, the entire day.

And night.

Did I mention they were awake in their tent til 4am?

Many of them haven’t slept too far away from home before. Many of them have never slept in a tent or cleaned a latrine (there are some benefits to being a leader and not having to do the camp “kapers” is one of them) many of them have never shot a bow and arrow or a bottle rocket or been in a flash mob before.

Being a Girl Scout has allowed our own daughters and the scouts we lead, to experience things they couldn’t experience in the normal course of their days. With us as leaders, our troop has taken field trips, had a scholarship named after our troop, done community service projects, slept inside an aquarium near the shark tank, gone behind the scenes on movie sets, at radio stations, TV shows, movie theaters, stage theaters, been on the news, in the newspaper, met the mayor, a city councilwoman, a comic book designer, learned how to collect, categorize and display postage stamps, sold cookies, cookies and more cookies-showing a business sense and dedication like you wouldn’t believe- and they’ve loved every minute of it.

And now, they’ve gone camping. Overnight.

All because I chose to be a Girl Scout leader five years ago so that my daughter could be a Girl Scout.

So as I laid in my cabin last night, chatting with my co-leader til I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, someone I hardly knew before scouting, as we were listening to them laugh and giggle and shriek, I knew that this was the reason I was there at that moment.

Thank you Girl Scouts!