If you are going camping this summer, don’t miss these tips—especially if you are camping with kids.  Have a great time and leave the woods better than you found them.

Divide and teach:   Make sure each kid has a cooking related chore.  One suggestion is to divide the work into fire building, cooking, and clean-up and then rotate the chores.  Of course, you’ll have to help with younger children.  Think of it not so much as a way to get the work done (though that helps) but the means of teaching kids outdoor skills and building confidence in the outdoors.  You’ll be surprised how interested and capable even young children will be.

Plastic containers:  Paper containers don’t work well on camping trips.  Consider plastic containers and you’ll keep your precious food dry and have less trouble with critters.  It will last longer too.  Put sugar and salt in plastic containers with lids that snap on firmly—or even better, screw on.  Any of your dry goods, such as pancake mix or rice, are candidates for plastic.  Use a plastic pop-up container for salad or vegetable oil.  (Put a piece of tape over the top if you are afraid it will open accidentally.)  Be sure to label your containers.

The kitchen cupboard:  We have a plastic ‘catch-all” container that we call the kitchen cupboard.  It catches all the little extras that sooner or later, are handy around camp.  All the spices are in the kitchen cupboard as well as extra matches, candles, lantern mantles, Ibupropin, moleskin, and dozens of other little goodies that have accumulated over time.  Here you will find a needle and thread, a small roll of duct tape, a length of tie wire, and a small screwdriver along with a canister of cooking oil and a little extra flour, just-in-case.  At the end of the season, throw any unused perishable out and restock in the spring.

The kitchen cupboard has become one of our most valuable camping accessories.  Consider buying an inexpensive tackle box at the local department store and converting it to your kitchen cupboard.

Leave it better than you found it:  It’s common courtesy to clean up the campsite before leaving.  We think the campsite should be left cleaner than when we arrived.  Assign one of the kids the role of “detective”.  His or her job is to see if they can “detect” any signs of the family’s presence.

Don’t burn aluminum: Don’t throw foil wrappers or aluminum beverage cans in the fire.  They might look like they burn but they don’t.  They simply melt into the ashes and contaminate the soil and the campsite.  Pack ’em out.

Campsite dishwashing:  The dishes have to be washed.  If you use biodegradable soap, you will have less impact on the environment.  And no one likes to see old noodle strung around the site—not to mention, they attract critters.  Bring along an old colander and pour your dishwater through the colander to retrieve bits of food.  If you don’t want to bring a colander, consider cheesecloth.  And never washes dishes at the water pump.

Have a fun and safe time in the woods.

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