• Sylvia

How to Have the Ultimate Campfire Cooking Experience

“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.”

-Paul Prudhomme


❤ ❤ ❤


As a Girl Guide member-turned-leader, I have learned a couple of things in my fifteen years of Guiding:

  • Always be prepared

  • Share and be a friend

  • Pack lots of marshmallows and hotdogs when camping


Sweet Nostalgia…


My earliest camp memory is from when I was an Brownie, attending my first camp (ever!). Finally, I was going to have the "classic Girl Scout experience"!


The week leading up to the big "weekend in the woods," I printed out the assigned kit list and rallied all my equipment together: a mess kit, five pairs of socks, cotton leggings, a couple t-shirts, shorts, a sweater, boots, runners, and toothbrush… the essentials!


Of course, like any another eight-year-old, I couldn’t wrap my head around not being able to pack my ten fluffy stuffed animals. However, being the stealthy gal that I am, I managed to smuggle a teddy bear into my duffle bag. Ritz, the pocket-size teddy with a Cracker Barrel ribbon tied neatly around his neck, hid safely under a stack of Fruit of the Loom underwear.


As the days crept closer, adrenaline began to pulse through my veins. Friday to Sunday without parents, sleeping (almost) under the stars, and cooking over a campfire. Who could ask for more?


Finally it was Friday. On the drive, my friend Vanessa and I ate gummy worms and played flashlight tag to make sure our flashlights were in working condition.


Pulling into the campsite, I watched as a steady line of mini vans drove towards the large open campsite that made up Blue Springs Scout Reserve. Though it was the first week in May, the cool breeze and light rainfall made the sky an ominous indigo, prompted our leaders, Comet and Chips, to start assembling our tents.


Novices that we were, we poked and tugged at the different tent compartments, pushing the detachable poles in through one section only to realize they were meant for another. After what seemed like an eternity, we were finished. My tent-building collaborators, Vanessa, Caitlin, and Simone decided to move the tent by the oak trees that lead to a trail near the campfire area. Spooky, I know.


As night fell, I learned a valuable lesson. Even though it may be spring, temperatures dip drastically over night! So pack lots of layers! That said, as we each took a seat on the logs surrounding the campfire, I had little time to think of how cold it had become. Between singing, laughing, and storytelling, we were having too much fun to concentrate on anything else.

The one thing that I remember most clearly though, was roasting marshmallows and spiderdogs over a crackling crimson fire.

“Find a long stick, girls” instructed Comet. “Once you find a good one, come see Chips. She’ll give you a spiderdog to cook on it.”


This, of course, was met with many gasps and shrieks. What on earth was a spiderdog?! We quickly discovered that it was just a regular wiener whose ends curled into “spider legs” once roasted.


Like the eight-legged hotdog treat, there were many other firsts that weekend between hiking, learning archery, and making new friends. Aside from all the cool activities and hat crafts that we did, the meal plan was out of this world! It wasn’t gourmet but I must admit it was creative. Who knew you could cook so many things over a fire with a little bit of ingenuity?


In a couple of weeks, I’ll be taking a trip to Camp Makeewa, a Girl Guide camp outside of Orangeville, for a weekend of fun and creativity. Along with ten eight-year-olds, I will be exploring the great outdoors and watching friendships flourish. Naturally, there might be some tears shed along the way, but hey, life isn’t perfect. At this point, I (Barn Owl) have some tricks up my sleeve 😉



FOOD


Let’s start with what really matters: food. What better way is there to get the creative juices flowing, than to think up meals for camp?


Eggs in bag, water bottle pancakes, muffins in an orange peel … all great campfire recipes that EVERYONE should keep in their arsenal. I mean, did you really go camping if you didn’t cook over a campfire?


Hotdogs are also a staple in camp cookery. But, I cannot tell you how many wieners that I have seen fall needlessly into the ashes. It’s simply heartbreaking. Luckily, with age comes experience. Spear your ‘dogs real well, especially if you’re going to make spiderdogs! Though they can be tricky not to lose in the campfire, they are worth the risk because the taste SOOOO incredible! Why? It's the mystery of campfire cooking.


Of course, no camping trip or backyard bonfire is complete without s’mores. Aren’t they the greatest? Sweet, sticky, and melty. They’re the perfect ending to any outdoor adventure! If you have never eaten a s’more, then I personally extend an invitation to you the next time I go camping! Who could resist toasted marshmallow and melted chocolate, sandwiched between two golden graham crackers?


Here are a couple of things that I’m going to be trying at an upcoming camp:

Naturally, campfire cooking recipes are awesome to try, but there are also some great prep and clean-up hacks to make sure that there aren’t any (or, at least few) problems!


Camp Cookout Prep:

  • Measure ingredients for each meal ahead of time and pack in labeled ziploc bags

  • Don’t forget aluminum foil; it’s essential for nearly all campfire snacks and meals

  • Keep any meats frozen before placing them in a cooler so they will last longer

  • Have a small cutting board for food prep, or use the back of a clean Frisbee

When Cooking:

  • Cover pots or foil pockets so food will cook faster and be free of bugs

  • Carry instant soup mix to for cold weather

  • Pack lots of granola bars, trail mix, or dried fruit for easy snaking between activities

Clean-up:

  • Pack a sponge with a scrubber side for easy washing

  • Always use oil on a camp grill to keep foods from sticking

  • If there are bears in the area, be sure to properly store your trash either in locations provided at the site or off the ground in a tree, far from your tent


A good campfire experience, however, extends beyond food. Below I have listed some other things to keep in mind.



SONGS


Traditionally, there’s a roster of Guiding campfire songs that are sung around the ole’ open flame. Just like our fresh campfire, our songs begin slowly (Guide Opening). As the flame heightens, so does the upbeat rhythm of our tunes (Mamma Don’t Allow, Fish and Chips and Vinegar, Kookaburra, My Hat). When the night has ended and the flames turn to embers, so does the music (Taps). A beautiful metaphor. 



GAMES & ACTIVITIES 


Broken Telephone is always so much fun with a large group! Despite craftting your most eloquently worded message, by the time the it reaches the last person I can guarantee that it’ll be super silly and the exact opposite of what you intended it to be. It never fails, especially when kids are involved. How “I love camping so much” can shape-shift into “Fat llamas dance on the beach,” I do not know. But, turn to the kid on your left and they’re most likely the culprit!


“Darling if you love me, won’t you please, please, smile?” This one is a Guiding CLASSIC. People take turns approaching someone asking the following question in the silliest way they can. The person being asked must avoid even the slightest grin or else they became the next person to ask, “Darling if you love me...”


Charades, an oldie but a goodie, is also always fun. Trying to act out a person, place, or thing in the dark is quite amusing. Even more so if things take a dark turn and suddenly you’re launching into the middle of a ghost story.



SAFETY


It’s all fun and games until someone walks too close to the flame. Don’t be that person! You know the one, everyone’s having fun until someone takes it a little TOO far… it’s unnecessary and dangerous. If you lose half your tent-mates in a fire incident, I can guarantee your campfire experience will not be as ultimate as promised.


Always be aware of your surroundings and exercise caution around fire. You should also maintain at least a foot in distance between you and the hot stuff.



FRIENDSHIP


It’s so corny when I think about it, but there really is something SO DARN MAGICAL about a campfire. It just makes you want to join arms with your buddies and sing Kumbaya as you sway back and forth.


Teamwork is critical in building and maintaining the perfect campfire. It’s an experience that brings you together, regardless of whether or not you were friends before. There’s an overwhelming sense of accomplishment when you and your new best pals step back to admire what you have created with your bare hands.


The smell of burning wood and the gentle crackle of the campfire just makes all seem right and just in the world. The laughter and camaraderie had at a weekend at camp is incomparable. Take it from me, those who camp together, stay together.


What’s more, those who roast marshmallows and spiderdogs together, will never go hungry! It's times like these that you can be reminded that less really is more!


Lastly, remember one very important thing: HAVE FUN!



❤ ❤ ❤


The Ultimate Campfire Spiderdogs

INGREDIENTS

  • Hotdogs, at least two per person

  • Small knife

  • Long skewer or stick

  • Outdoor fire (for optimal flavour)


INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Take a hotdog from its package and using a knife, cut an “X” into both ends of it. Pierce the middle section of the hotdog with your skewer.

  2. Roast over an open flame, turning frequently, for approximately five minutes or until the ends of the hotdog begin to curl. Be sure to cook your spiderdog over hot coals, taking care to avoid white flakes of ash.

  3. Enjoy life’s simple pleasures!


What are your favourite things to cook around a bonfire? I’d love to know!

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