New Camping Recipe Book

It was going to be one of those “quick” projects. But it really wasn’t! But today, after weeks of work, I finally was able to order a proof copy. Whew!


This new book (available mid-September 2013) has 101 camping recipes that have been featured on the Pitch Your Tent Newsletter and some that have never been published before. Book will retail for $14.95 and be available through,, and

(When the book is published, I’ll make those active links to purchase the book!)

It’s fully indexed for quicker searching too!

Let me tell you how much of a PITA (Pain In The A$$) creating an index is! After reviewing a ton of other cookbooks, I realized that a real index is a must. Did you know that a lot of cookbooks don’t index by ingredient? Just an alphabetical list of recipes. What good does that do? How can I look up what to do with my pork? Or bacon? Or ground beef?

Speaking of ground beef, did you know that there’s technically a difference between ground beef and hamburger? No? Me neither!

Special thanks to all my Facebook friends and fans who helped with the title, how long the book should be, and more!

The book will be available to purchase and for signing at Prescott’s Great Outdoors.

Leave No Trace Principles

The great folks over at say it perfectly. And why mess with perfection:

The member-driven Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. This copyrighted information has been reprinted with permission from the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics:

The Seven Principles

Plan Ahead and Prepare

  • Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit.
  • Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
  • Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
  • Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
  • Repackage food to minimize waste.
  • Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

  • Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
  • Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
  • Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
  • In popular areas:
    • Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
    • Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
    • Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
  • In pristine areas:
    • Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
    • Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.

Dispose of Waste Properly

  • Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, and litter.
  • Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp, and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
  • Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
  • To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.

Leave What You Find

  • Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
  • Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
  • Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.

Minimize Campfire Impacts

  • Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
  • Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
  • Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
  • Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.

Respect Wildlife

  • Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
  • Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
  • Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
  • Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

  • Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
  • Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
  • Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
  • Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
  • Let nature’s sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.

So what does this amount to if you’re camping in a developed campground?
Clean up after yourself. Follow any posted campground rules and the requests of the camp hosts. Don’t damage what’s there. Remember that you want to leave the campground as-is for generations of campers to follow!

Kids In Camp: Set Up, Tear Down & Hanging Out

This article will appear in my soon-to-be-released eBook about Camping For Beginners. Please leave me your comments on it and I will potentially include them in the final draft of the book. You can also use the links for Kindle and Nook to view my current titles.

Kid in Camp


The car is packed, the kids are excited and the campground is calling your name! But what are you going to do once you get to the campground?


First off, remember that kids can and should be enlisted to help with setting up camp. Not only does it make them feel important, it teaches them that while this may be a family vacation, they’re not at a 5-star resort where everything is done for them. Or, as my mother is fond of saying, “This isn’t a Howard Johnson, you know!”


By including your child in helping you also can keep an eye on them without making it obvious! Unless your child is in diapers, they have something to contribute. Little kids can help move sticks and pinecones off the tent pad. Older kids can help unload the car, put tent poles together, gather firewood, keep track of smaller kids, etc. When I was too young to be of much real help, my job was holding the dog’s leash while my folks did most of the important setting up or tearing down.


And when it is time to pack up and go home, just reverse the process! Kids are especially good to recruit to clean the campsite and pick up any wayward trash you or any prior camper left behind. I know one family that has every family member pick up one piece of trash for every year they’ve accumulated. The seven-year-old has to keep her thirty-three year old father from “stealing” her trash!


As you set up, make sure that you’re clear that everyone needs to take care of their own stuff. Adults are on the trip to have a good time too, not to baby sit toys, hats, and drinks. I recommend labeling any item that might be fought over: balls, hats, marshmallow sticks, etc.


I also recommend assigning each family member their own water bottle or canteen. Write their name on a PBA-free washable water bottle with a permanent marker. Other drinks can be served from plastic cups but that way each child knows which water bottle is theirs.


Hanging out in camp

Hanging out at the campsite is not at all like hanging out at home. There is no refrigerator to peer into looking for a snack so make sure that you have plenty of kid-friendly foods on hand. I never wanted to take time from camping to eat so my mom was always sure to keep my favorite balanced snacks on hand so she could stuff one in my hand and off I’d go. Remember that whatever you normally eat at home, you can eat at camp!


I recommend taking both large air-tight containers of snack foods for sharing and individual portions so your child can grab it and take it with him. Just remember that any large container that goes to camp full has to come home empty! I recommend packing snacks into plastic bags to save on space.


Make sure your child stays hydrated. So drink lots. And I don’t mean soda! Take extra measures to keep kids (and adults) hydrated. That means plenty of water or clear liquids. Juices and sports drinks are okay, but in moderation. While camping is an excuse to break from routine, make sure that your kids are drinking plenty of appropriate liquids to keep them hydrated.


Plan for First Aid. It’s likely to get bug bites. And scraped knees. And a splinter. And, you get the point. Make sure that a full bottle of quality sunscreen is packed with your first aid supplies and that you apply it liberally and often. Sunburn is especially common at higher, cooler elevations where the sun doesn’t feel as intense and it feels so good to sit in the sun to stay warm. Trust me, sunburns happen even in the mountains! And they’re not fun anytime but especially miserable when you’re not at home!


It’s been suggested to me to pack spray-on sunscreen. It goes on evenly even when your kid is filthy dirty from playing in the dirt all day. A rub-on sunscreen applied over dirt and sweat can streak and leave your kids sunburned in streaks. Not fun!


Remember that while you’re on vacation and everything is flexible, kids may still need their nap. Take a few books or stuffed animals to help them quiet down. Even if your daughter doesn’t actually sleep, a half-hour resting will do wonders for her attitude. And yours too!


Along that vein, its okay to try for some semblance of routine while you’re camping, like enforcing bedtimes. Know your kid: what routine do you really need to follow to keep everybody happy and sane? Does he have to have a bedtime story? His favorite stuffed animal? The best part of camping is that you get to set the schedule so you can schedule what works for your child.


Eating outside is GOOD. But it may take some getting used to! You will eat dirt. Get over it.


In the tent

It’s every parent’s nightmare that their child will get out of the tent in the middle of the night and wander off. The littlest are unafraid of anything and will happily wander off after dark. Older children might want to sneak off on purpose. (Unless they’re like me: afraid of the dark!)


Put an adult in front of each door to the tent. That way, any child making a break for it would have to crawl over a sleeping adult to get out. And if you’re child is afraid of the dark, then he can sleep better knowing that there’s somebody between him and the great outdoors!


If you have more doors than parents, you can safety pin the zipper shut. If you have two zippers, just pin them together. If the door only has a single zipper, you can pin it shut by putting the pin through the hole in the zipper and fastening it to a duffle bag just inside the tent. I don’t recommend pinning the zipper to the tent itself because you’ll be putting a hole in the tent fabric!


Realize that no matter how many times you make them use the restroom before you go to bed, somebody will have to go potty in the middle of night. Take a flashlight and remember that camping is an adventure! If an adult has to go, you need to decide if you need to wake your child at the same time. It might be better to wake your kid when you’re up already rather than have her wake you just as you are falling back to sleep! And, you also don’t want to frighten your child if they wake and find you gone.


If you’re not staying in a campground with bathrooms, be sure to teach your little girl how to go potty outside. And do it in the daylight! My cousin Kris, the mother of three girls, just says, “Camp someplace with a potty. Little girls don’t go in the wilderness!” I remember when I was a little girl and hated peeing outside. Again, this comes back to knowing your child: if it’s an adventure, go for it. If it will stress them out and they’ll try to “hold it” all weekend, then you’re better off camping someplace with a restroom.


It’s also a given, your kid will likely get cold in the night. Plan ahead and know they’ll be snuggling into your sleeping bag sometime in the night. You can also pack two kids into a roomy sleeping bag so everybody stays toasty.


Kids can get uncomfortable in adult-sized furniture. You can get collapsible kid-sized picnic tables and camping chairs. It can be especially difficult for children to eat at a picnic table when they can’t sit on the bench and reach the table!


When you’re leaving camp for a walk around the campground or to go on a hike, make a hiking train. This is where you sandwich the kids between the adults. It allows an adult to lead the way and the second adult to be able to see all the kids at all times. If you’re camping in an area with snakes, it also has a responsible party scanning the trail for slithering friends.


If you don’t have the advantage of a second adult on your camping trip, you can accomplish the same result by having everyone hold hands.


Two final thoughts from every camping mom I’ve ever met:

1. Baby wipes are your friend

2. Extra washcloths and a dab of water can clean anything

Where To Go Camping: Public, Private or Dispersed

There are three places where you can head for a camping vacation: a public campground, a private campground, or dispersed camping.


Public Campground

These facilities are run by some sort of government entity like the Forest Service, a State or National Park Service, County, etc.


Pros of a Public Campground:

They are usually inexpensive. Nightly camping fees typically run anywhere from a few dollars to around twenty dollars per night. Plus, most public campgrounds offer the same amenities at every single campground, namely a picnic table and fire ring. And if you’re 62 or older, and a US citizen, you can purchase a Senior Pass. It’s a lifetime pass that gives 50% discounts to many public campgrounds.


Cons of a Public Campground:

It’s public. That means that anyone who can pay the fee is allowed to stay. That being said, all campers must obey the posted rules but no one will be turned away because of dogs, small children, or large RVs. You get all types in a public campground! And while some campsites in some campgrounds can be reserved, the majority of campsites are first-come, first-served.


Private Campground

These are owned by a company, franchisee, or individual. The most famous brand of private campground is KOA or Kampgrounds of America.


Pros of a Private Campground:

Because they’re privately owned, private campgrounds can be selective as to who they allow to camp. There are campgrounds that cater to 60+ only and campgrounds that welcome children. There are usually greater amenities than in a public campground. They can usually be rented on a daily, weekly or monthly basis and almost every private campground will offer reservations.


Cons of a Private Campground:

Private campgrounds tend to be more expensive than their public campground counterparts. And many feature campsites that are very close together. It’s a business thing: the more campers you can get per acre, the more money can be made in rent. Lots of private campgrounds cater to huge RVs and some don’t permit tent-camping. Even if you can tent camp there, be prepared to have enormous RVs on every side.


Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping is camping outside of a campground on public lands.


Pros of a Dispersed Camping:

You can spread out to your heart’s content! In most areas campsites are spread far from neighbors so you can enjoy nature all by yourself. It can be so quiet you’ll feel like you’re the only person on Earth. And if you want to have a rowdy volleyball game there’s no camp host to come tell you to quite down.


Cons of a Dispersed Camping:

But… Because there is no one in charge, there’s no one to stop a neighbor from running ATVs up and down the road all day, blasting music, or generally being obnoxious. And before you pitch your tent, it will be your responsibility to make sure that you’re allowed to camp there, obtain any needed permits, and be familiar with all the local rules, laws, and ordinances. In dispersed camping, it’s just you and what you bring: no bathrooms, no potable water, and no trash service.


Public and private campgrounds also break down into an additional three categories that are used to describe how many amenities they offer.


Primitive Campgrounds

Primitive campgrounds have limited facilities like restrooms and potable water and very few amenities. You’ll most likely get the bare minimum basics here: a fire ring and a picnic table. Of course, since there are hardly any amenities, the cost is usually kept very low at a primitive campground. Primitive campgrounds are usually public campgrounds as well.


A primitive campground will not have paved roads. They are usually geared towards tent camping only but some may permit small RVs.


Developed Campgrounds

Developed campgrounds are friendly to tents and RVs. In addition to offering a fire ring and picnic table, a developed campground will also offer restrooms and potable water. They may also offer trash service and even recycling. Some developed campgrounds have additional amenities like barbeque grates for the fire ring or stand barbeques, leveled gravel tent pads, and maintained paths to water spigots and restrooms.


A developed campground may offer paved roads throughout the campground. If not, then the roads will be well-maintained.


You can find both public and private developed campgrounds. Expect to pay more for campsites than at a primitive campground.



A full-hookup campground caters to RVs. In addition to picnic tables and fire rings, each campsite will offer electricity and potable water; many will also offer sewer connections. There are limited full-hookup public campgrounds; most are privately owned and operated. Before heading to a campground that says they are full-hookup, verify that they allow tent camping.


There are advantages to tent camping in a full-hookup campground, especially in the hot summer months in that you can bring a portable fan and run an extension cord into your tent.


Full-hookup campgrounds usually offer a variety of other amenities like showers, playgrounds, swimming pools, etc. Just be aware that the more amenities there are, the higher the cost! Also, the people who own the huge RVs gravitate towards a full-hookup campground so they can take advantage of the amenities as well.


Readers Weigh In:

  • Do you have a favorite type of campground?
  • What do you feel about dispersed camping?

Guest Post: How to Have a Successful First Camping Trip

This camping equipment guide was kindly written by Russell Smitheram over at

I remember way back when I first started camping. It was daunting to say the least and I had no idea what to expect. I thought I was looking at the whole camping thing through rose tinted glasses – I was expecting the worst. I was anxious but very excited to get started.

Before I go into the meat of the article I want to settle a few misconceptions about camping. Firstly, it’s not as expensive as people make it out to be. Sure, it costs money initially to purchase your tent, sleeping bags and other gear which I’ll go into shortly, but once you’re set up you’ll have the kit to enjoy many seasons of camping at minimal cost. Much cheaper than checking into a hotel, that’s for sure.

Secondly, camping is far from boring. Camping is supposed to be a time to relax, spend time with family and generally wind down. If you have kids you can go fishing or walk a trail. Consider packing a football, paper and crayons, books and board games. Some camp sites have on site swimming pools, arcades and even evening entertainment. But if you haven’t got access to any of this you can’t beat bringing it back to basics with a good book, board game or ball game to enjoy as a group.

Lastly, but certainly not least, is the misconception of what to pack. Luckily that’s what this article aims to outline but before I get there let’s cover where to camp. If you’re totally new to camping I recommend going somewhere fairly close to home. Choose a camp site with toilet and shower facilities, nearby lakes, trails and woodlands if you can to keep the kids entertained. The good camp sites get booked up well in advance so once you’ve made your mind up reserve your spot!

So what should your camping equipment list look like? Well, you are governed by a) how much room you have in your vehicle and b) how much you want to carry. The basic equipment is a tent, sleeping bags, a gas stove for cooking, utensils, cups and plates, and a torch. Everything else is optional and you can go as far you want. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than this but if you want more luxury consider things like kettles, tables and chairs, wind up radios, a selection of different torches, heaters and air mattresses.

If you want a better night’s sleep use a foam pad under your sleeping bag. This insulates you and stops warmth seeping into the ground from your body. For extra insulation consider using a sleeping bag liner. These help increase the temperature range inside the bag to further aid heat retention. Furthermore you can wear a fleece cap if things get really cold.

Here’s a quick check list to keep handy. You’ll need:

  • Tent, poles, groundsheet and a mallet
  • Sleeping bags, foam pads and pillows
  • Toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, towels etc
  • Gas stove and fuel
  • Cooking utensils – pans, matches, table cloth, spatula’s, tongs.
  • Cutlery including knives, forks, spoons
  • First aid kit
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen

Feel free to add to this list, it’s by no means exhaustive. The more you add the more luxury you’ll have but bear in mind it’ll also take up more room in your vehicle. I hope you find this article useful and I sincerely wish you all the best with your first camping trip. Remember, relax and enjoy the experience.