4 Tips for a Technology Free Family Camping Trip

July 2, 2015

Oh, technology — smartphones, tablets, mp3 players — all those visual Kool-Aid devices that keep kids tranquilized and quiet while parents try to steal some peaceful personal time! It’s amazing, but at the same time it can be scary when your kids get that glassy-eyed robot look to them. Encouraging kids to be active is harder and harder with all of the sedentary distractions available — you can take something away but there’s always something else to sit and watch. What’s a parent to do?

Camping is a great way to keep your children engaged with the world outside of an LCD screen, and is by far the most popular choice for American families. In 2011, Americans spent a total of 534 million days on camping vacations. The average camper goes on about five trips a year and travels an estimated 190 miles from home to camp ground. You would think traveling so far would minimize the ability to get a cell or wifi signal, but the tech revolution should not be underestimated — tons of places have wifi signals now, including camp grounds.

Here are some ideas for family camping trips that never fail to have the kids sliding their screens away and smiling.

  1. Put your own phone away. There’s nothing kids learn from faster than a bad example.
  2. Have some fun with water. Squirt guns, creeks, water balloons, pool time — all of these things will force everyone to secure their electronics far away from what you’re doing.
  3. Go hiking. This is by far the most popular camp ground activity — over 90% of campers go hiking. Bonus points for bringing disposable cameras the kids can use to document all the cool things they find in an album when you get home.
  4. Get them dirty. The great outdoors is for exploring! Bring nature guides, dig in the dirt for worms, identify plants, have a scavenger hunt, do arts and crafts. If the kids are engaged they won’t even miss their devices, and if they’re too dirty to touch them it helps deter the urge to sit down with a game of solitaire.

Anything we missed? Leave a comment!

How to Bring Your Dog Along on Your Next Family Camping Vacation

May 26, 2015

Family camping vacations might be the most popular way for Americans and their families to escape the hectic distractions of the modern world and spend some quality bonding time together. In 2013, we spent a combined 516.6 million days at campsites all across the country, and the average camper takes five trips throughout the year.

If your family includes a dog, you probably want to bring your canine friend along for the ride. In addition to including your pet on your family fun, he or she will benefit immensely from the extra exercise and fresh air.

Want to include your dog on your next family camping vacation? Be sure to follow these three pointers for a fun-filled camping trip everyone will enjoy:

Preparing for your trip

Before you even book your next camping trip, be sure to find out whether or not the campground allows dogs. It’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with the campground’s specific rules on pets before you embark on your camping vacation. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on all his or her vaccinations; you may want to have your dog vaccinated against tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease or mosquito-borne heartworms, as well. Lastly, be sure your dog has a collar or harness with an identification tag.

Packing for your dog

If there isn’t a source of drinking water near your campsite, be sure to bring plenty of water for your dog — and never allow your dog to drink out of standing bodies of water like ponds. Bring along enough dog food and treats to last the duration of your trip, as well as bedding and toys. To keep your dog safe and healthy in the event of an emergency, pack a first aid kit and bring along a copy of his or her veterinary records.

Camping with your dog

There are countless ways to enjoy the outdoors with your dog during your family’s next camping trip. From playing frisbee to going on a hike together — 92% of campers go hiking regularly — there’s no shortage of ways to keep your dog entertained. Just be sure to keep your dog on a leash or lead at all times so you don’t disturb your fellow campers, and to always clean up after your dog.

Have any other tips or tricks for bringing pets along on a family camping vacation? Let us and your fellow readers know in the comments below.

Three Life Hacks to Take With You on Your Next Camping Trip

April 30, 2015

With the start of peak camping season just weeks away, millions of Americans and their families will soon be flocking to the country’s numerous campgrounds and camping resorts en masse. Camping might just be one of the most popular activities for the American family — in 2013, we spent a combined 516.6 million days camping!

And while camping in tents is certainly the most popular way to go camping — 86% of campers choose to sleep in a tent when camping — many people struggle with the concept of “roughing it.” But with a little ingenuity and creativity, you can make any camping trip a little easier, breezier and more comfortable.

Here’s a look at three of our favorite “life hacks” to use during your next camping trip:

Bring a homemade fire-starter kit

No camping trip is complete without sitting around a roaring campfire and roasting some marshmallows to make s’mores, especially when campers bring their friends along on their trips 70% of the time. But starting a fire from scratch isn’t exactly easy for those unequipped with wilderness survival skills. To easily start a campfire anywhere you go, soak some cotton balls in a pill jar of petroleum jelly. Whenever you need to start a fire, simply take one of these cotton balls out and light a match.

Baking soda: the magic ingredient

Baking soda has a huge number of surprising uses, especially while you and your family are camping in tents. You can use baking soda to brush your teeth, soothe upset stomachs, relieve minor burns, as a deodorant, absorb moisture, and myriad other uses. Bring baking soda on your next camping trip — you’re guaranteed to use it at least once.

Keep the bugs away naturally

If you’re concerned about the chemicals of store-bought bug repellents but can’t stand the thought of letting yourself fall victim to mosquitoes and ticks, simply mix 1 part tree oil and 2 parts water in a plastic spray bottle. You’ve just created a natural, effective bug repellent.

Could Your Next Trip to Wisconsin's Campgrounds Have a Corporate Sponsor?

March 16, 2015

We’re familiar with sports venues and various events that are named after their corporate sponsors — but what about camping sites?

If the state’s proposed two-year budget passes, a trip to state parks and public campgrounds in Wisconsin could soon mean visiting a corporate-sponsored camp resort.

According to a March 3 Duluth News-Tribune article, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget would cut all funding to Wisconsin’s state parks — and the State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is considering selling the naming rights to these campgrounds as a way to generate revenue.

The DNR is also considering finding revenue from alternate sources, such as increasing entrance and camping fees for the state’s 46 state parks, 14 state trails, four recreational areas and two national scenic trails. Camping in public campgrounds such as state parks continues to be the most popular choice for campers — 70% of campers go camping in these public camping sites.

Walker’s budget would also put a halt to conservation land purchases for the next 13 years and cut 66 jobs in the DNR, in addition to stripping much of the agency’s authority to create policies.

A few other U.S. states have turned to the idea of corporate partnerships for their parks and camping grounds, but no state has been able to cover the cost of these parks’ upkeep with these funds, according to BringMeTheNews.com.

The budgetary issue will be studied over the next two years before a final decision is made, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said.

Despite the Wisonsin parks system’s budgetary woes, it can’t be denied that camping is becoming more popular than ever for Americans — in 2013, we went camping for a collective total of 516.6 million days, up from 515 million camping days in 2010. In 2014, more than 15 million people went camping in Wisconsin alone.

New Startup Takes Camping to the Next Level -- Literally

March 16, 2015

A new London-based startup has developed a product that will make it possible to bring a treehouse with you wherever you go tent camping.

According to a Feb. 26 Fast Company article, Tentsile is a company that manufactures tents that can be pitched up in the air by attaching its corners to trees, rocks or other sturdy structures.

Tent camping is by far the most popular method for camping across the country’s numerous campgrounds — about 86% of campers choose to do so in tents.

And as the post-recession ecotourism industry continues to thrive, so does the desire for a way to go camping that will have minimal impact on campgrounds’ natural terrain and environment. Currently, 71% of people say they plan to make an environmentally-conscious travel decision within the next year; Tentsile’s tents offer a perfect way for campers to immerse themselves in nature without leaving behind a footprint. Additionally, the company plants three trees for every tent it sells, further adding to its eco-friendly credentials.

Compared to other vertically-minded pieces of camping equipment, Tentsile’s product is surprisingly affordable, as well. Its models range from $500 to $1,500, and shipping is free worldwide, Fast Company writes. They’re also portable, and easy to set up and secure.

In 2010, Americans collectively spent 515 million days camping — and by 2013, this number grew to 516.6 million days. As more people continue to see the excitement and unique activities that a camping excursion can offer, it’s likely that more campers will turn to options like Tentsile’s treehouse tents to make their journeys even more fun. These treehouse tents are literally taking camping to the next level.

Would you try out the portable treehouse experience that Tentsile is offering with its unique tents? Share your thoughts about these tents — and ask us any questions about camping life and camp resorts — in the comments below.

Tips for Making the Perfect Pumpkin Pie

November 12, 2014

The pumpkin pie is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving dessert tables across the United States. For many families, Thanksgiving (and occasionally Christmas) are the only times this tasty dish is served – and everyone wants to learn how to make Grandma’s family recipe taste just like hers, so they can pass the pumpkin pie tradition on to their own children and grandchildren.

How did the pumpkin pie because synonymous with our holiday of gratitude? No one really knows. Historians say the pumpkin is native to North America, and Native Americans likely cut the pulp into slices and roasted them over the fire. When European settlers arrived, they began exporting the big orange gourd. There, the French and the English prepared it as a dessert, but differently from the presentation we’re used to. They stuffed the whole pumpkin with apples, spices, sugar and even honey, and then baked it whole.

Here in the United States, recipes for pumpkin pie as we know it began showing up on Thanksgiving tables in the early 19th century. As a fall crop, pumpkins were likely considered a symbol of the autumn harvest and were plentiful; cooks of yesteryear were accustomed to making the most of what was available, so it’s no wonder they found a way to make delicious pumpkin pie.

If this is your first time making Grandma’s famous family recipe, or you just want to perfect your own pumpkin pie, here are a few easy tips to make it turn out just right.

Be careful not to over-beat the filling. Pumpkin pie is supposed to be thick and creamy; too much mixing will add air and thin out the texture.

Brush the pie crust with a slightly-beaten egg white and pre-bake it before filling it. This helps the crust stay flaky and crisp.

If you’re having a hard time getting the crust just right (it can be tricky), consider using a refrigerated pie crust. No one will know the difference – and we’ll never tell!

Buy an extra pie crust and use cookie cutters to cut it into festive shapes for the top – autumn leaves, pumpkins and so forth. It will look beautiful.

  • If you’re in a hurry, canned pumpkin or pumpkin pie filling will work. Or roast a sugar pumpkin and puree the insides.

Fold crushed toffee into whipped cream for a deliciously decadent pie topping.

Keep an eye on the pie while it’s in the oven. Overbaking leads to the pie “weeping,” which makes the crust soggy and creates cracks in the surface.

Keep the pie refrigerated until it’s ready to be served.

 

Happy baking!

These Unique Camping Experiences Will Keep You On Your Toes

September 3, 2014

Camping is easily a favorite American pastime, with regular campers taking an average of five trips every year and each approximately 191 miles from their homes. Thankfully, all camping trips can be a completely unique experience, so your family will never tire of it — and will, in fact, look forward to the next big adventure. What are some ways to mix things up and keep camping excursions interesting year after year? 

Teepee And Yurt Camping

Okay, so what’s a yurt? Ancient yurts consisted of a single, circular room; the structures were typically built from pelts and animal skins laid over a wooden frame. Today, there’s is a lot more freedom in this design. (For one thing, most camping sites replace the pelts with durable, water-resistant cloth.) In any case, yurt and teepee camping is a great way to keep things at their most basic level, and to get back in touch with nature and the simple pleasures in life. 

“Water, Water Everywhere, But Not A Drop To Drink”

Manufacturers and tent rental companies are now offering inflatable tents that float. This is a pretty ideal arrangement, especially if your favorite campground is located nearby a lake or even on the beach. We all remember what happened in the required reading favorite The Cay, however. Be mindful not to drift too far, and never drink untreated water or salt water.

Stop Roughing It, And Start Enjoying It

Many campers are stuck up on the idea that they have do to everything the hard way, or it doesn’t count. Guess what? It’s your vacation, and family campgrounds are more than happy to keep your secrets. If eating cold beans out of the can and sleeping on the ground (with twigs, grass, and pebbles poking into your back all night long) doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, don’t do it. Modern campgrounds offer a variety of experiences, and some sites come with plenty of nearby luxuries and amenities, like heated cabins, swimming pools, gem mining, theaters, playgrounds, and mini golf. 

Keep camping trips fresh and interesting by making a point of doing something new every time. You have to try yurt camping at least once, and you can promise the kids a site right next to the swimming pool next time to make up for it.

Why go Camping?

April 17, 2014

camp jelly 4Visit campjellystone.com to see our new infographic.

Useful Camping Tips and Places You Can Go

March 27, 2014

Camping is a time honored American tradition. Approximately 40 million people go camping each year. Let’s explore where you and your family can go camping?

Why You Might Like Camping in Colorado

It’s no surprise that many people end up heading to Colorado for great camping and hiking adventures. It’s the only state that is 100% above 3,000 feet, and it has the mountains, peaks and amazing views to show for it, every season of the year. Colorado is a good choice for hunting, boating, and fishing.

Why New York Camping isn’t Just a Big Apple

Why go camping in New York? Believe it or not, the city only comprises a very small section of the state, many areas of which are forested and great for summer or fall camping. New York also has many spots for RV campgrounds, making it an appealing choice for families who don’t plan on roughing it in a tent. New York has many rivers, streams and lakes that help make for great camping sites.

The Appeal of Camping in Ohio

Camping in Ohio can be fun year-round, and there are almost 50 different campgrounds available in the state. For horse lovers, Ohio even has many equestrian camping sites, where visitors can enjoy locations next to bridle trails as well as normal camping conveniences, such as drinking water and picnic tables.

Three Useful Camping Tips No Matter Where You Are

    • Have a plan in place for dealing with food and trash storage, which can attract unwanted animals if you’re not careful. Most animals can break through simple closed bags. In areas where bears are native, never keep food or waste near you while you are sleeping.
  • Teach kids the camping “rule of three,” where you only pick up a living thing for three seconds, take three steps, and show it to three people. This not only helps preserve ecosystems, but teaches kids a valuable lesson about respecting the natural environment around them.
    • Get ingredients for fun campfire snacks before you go. To make “squirrel tails,” bring a can of biscuits, butter, and a sugar/cinnamon mixture. Wind the biscuit around a stick (like a tail) and cook it in the fire. Then, dunk it in butter, and dip it in the sugar for a delicious treat.

    Have you gone camping in Ohio, or anywhere else? Let us know in the comments.

Going Camping With Your Family? A Few Tips Worth Knowing

March 27, 2014

Did you know that, much like cats, raccoon purr when they feel safe and content? Hopefully if you go camping, you won’t necessarily be finding out whether this fact is true or not. Camping, it can be said, is one of the great American pastimes, and about 40 million people in the U.S. choose to go camping each year. Not only can it be a great way to relax with friends and family, but it’s also a fairly affordable vacation option. If you are thinking of going camping this year? Here are several facts you should keep in mind.

    • Never, or rarely, been camping before? No problem. There are, however, some lessons you’d probably rather not learn the hard way. One lesson is to always properly secure your trash — and do so away from where you’re sleeping so that if animals do come, they won’t be trampling through your things. The idea of raccoons purring might be cute in theory, but it’s less cute if they’re purring contentedly after raiding your s’mores stash.
    • Find recipes for fun campfire foods. Don’t just stick to hot dogs — try out something new! There are many neat, easy recipes that use tinfoil or fruit as a ‘bowl” to cook various savories and desserts. Check out “banana boats” for one yummy example.
  • Have more to start the fire than just a lighter. You won’t always be lucky enough to have very dry wood and a no-wind day, and many people find out the hard way that a box of matches and a few sticks aren’t enough to build a fire. Newspaper and lighter fluid are good to have.

Where Should You Go? You can either find a park nearby, or take this as an opportunity for a road trip and see what’s out there. Camping in Colorado comes highly rated by several camping experts who cite its beautiful mountains, and national parks.

    • If you’re in the north, try camping in Ohio. There are many campgrounds open year long.
    • RV camping is fairly popular, and an alternative to having to pitch up a tent. If you don’t own an RV, you can rent one. RV campgrounds can be a good choice, and are specifically set up to accommodate RVs.
    • Not surprisingly, our park campgrounds offers, water features, great accommodations and so much more! It helps to plan your budget, and enjoy your stay with no concerns!

Have you gone camping in Ohio or anywhere else? Let us know in the comments.

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