columbus day camping | family scrapbook

A camping we will go, a camping we will go…

This time last year, I had never been camping before. Concierge-level stay at Disney World with views of the castle and towels intricately folded to look like Mickey Mouse & friends on the pillow at night? Check. Bahamas where I spent all afternoon lounging in a pool, occasionally exerting a minute amount of energy to make my way to the swim up bar for a cocktail? Check. Laying on white sandy Hawaiian beaches for ten days without a care in the world? In my mind, check. But camping? As in, being outdoors, surrounded by bugs and dirt, smelling like campfire and wearing the same sweatshirt for 4 days? Yeah, no.

And here I am, October 2012, and I can say I have been camping not once, not twice but three times (I tend to go overboard when I find something I like) in the past 4.5 months and we’ve enjoyed every second of it! Truth.

When we left our campground in June, we had talked about going back for a Columbus Day visit. Another fire family we had met up with at the time told us Columbus Day closes out the park until it re-opens on Memorial Day. We were told there was trick-or-treating for the kids, a haunted wagon ride, etc etc etc. This all sounded like lots of fun to us, especially since the weekend landed two days after my son’s 8th birthday. We asked him if he wanted a camping vacation instead of a party and he readily agreed. We invited my cousin and her son to come along as well and the 7 of us had a really fun time.

I still stand true to the claim that camping is a very simple vacation to take. You’ll see many repeated ideas here from our last two excursions into the wilderness. Please don’t be afraid or shun the idea because it’s foreign to you, it’s not 5-star with maid service or something silly like that. Where else are you going to be completely accepted in the same campfire-smelling sweatshirt for an entire extended weekend? Nowhere, that’s where. Plus, the kids will say numerous times how its “the best vacation ever!” Its very affordable to create these memories (and if you’re in the NY area, we highly recommend making them at Yogi’s Jellystone Park in Woodridge).

I had to admit, when I saw all of the green, leafy trees in June, I could not wait to come back and see them in the Fall. There’s nothing quite like an upstate Autumn!

Here are two iPhone shots: the left side is the ride into the mountains and the right side is heading toward home.

As my husband said at one point, there really is something appealing about sitting around a campfire where your only worry is keeping that campfire going.

This time instead of cooking our Hobo Stew packets inside the charcoal grill, we buried them right in the campfire. They were delicious!

Hobo Stew (for 6)

2 pounds ground beef
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can corn, drained
1 can cut green beans, drained
1 can sliced potatoes, drained
olive oil spray
tin foil

1) Double-up sheets of tin foil. Spray with cooking spray. Place a good chunk of meat on the spray and top with the potatoes & veggies (we mixed these all in a bowl beforehand).  Place a nice sized dollop of soup on each meat mixture, wrap securely and fold in all edges. Cool in fire until meat is done (between 20-25 minutes).

Since it was so breezy and crisp this time of year, we added hot chocolate to our list of camping treats to pack.

Not only does she have a hot chocolate mustache, but a hot chocolate eye brow as well!

We’ve made our campfire pizza during all three camping trips this year. It’s so easy and delicious!

(So thankful for Winter hats! The kids didn’t take them off all weekend).


The boys kept busy with Lego minifigures all weekend. Here are 3 of the 4 kids waiting for breakfast to be served.

Vin was our cook all weekend.

We made our favorite camping breakfast: a dozen eggs (we used two dozen to serve 7 this time), a box of defrosted, semi-thawed chopped breakfast sausage, milk and cheese. We had this with English Muffins since my cousin brought along a small pop-up toaster.  Yes, there’s electricity running to our cabin. There’s only so far I’ll go when it comes to roughing it.

We used the pie irons again to make lunch. This time along with grilled cheese, we made toasted PB&Js.

There was lots and lots of playing in the leaves…

Lots of Lego playing…

Lots of sticking our heads into giant tubs of honey wheat pretzels…

And lots of bike riding.

^ Please do not judge me by the people I choose to live with. ^

There was lots of laughing around the campfire too!

There were not that many animals though. This time, one of the only critters we saw was this fuzzy white caterpillar on Grace’s bike wheel.

I know. Frightening.

Now, unless caterpillars eat spinach dip, there was something lurking about while we slept. We accidentally left our half-eaten tray of spinach artichoke dip on the picnic table overnight and when we woke up the next morning, the plate was licked clean. My cousin and I wanted to set-up a similar experiment the following night but Vin didn’t like that idea. What’s wrong with inviting animals within feet of your cabin door I ask you?

All of the kiddies are on the fire truck ride here with Yogi and Boo Boo. The giant smiles happened when Yogi stole Andrew’s Giants hat and wore it.

Yogi, Cindy & Boo Boo get driven all over the grounds via golf cart. Must be nice.

If the kids weren’t bike riding in their down time (which is pretty much all the time when camping), they were playing Scrabble Junior and even digging for dinosaur fossils.

They made edible sand art as well (Flavored sugar. Great for the teeth).

Along with all of the usual past times and general camping fun, there was a whole Halloween theme throughout the entire campground this weekend.

The kids painted pumpkins…

L-R: Andrew, Grace, Anthony & Emily

…laughed at this pumpkin butt decoration…

…and dressed up in costume.

iPhone captures of the campground decorations and the kids ToTing.

Please note the clever ax placement in the photo below. I think it adds a little something extra special.

The beauty of the black and white conversion below is that you really can’t tell I have paired a plaid flannel with sweats. Yes. I went there.

We went trick-or-treating throughout the campground which was tons of fun. It was packed too! Vin stayed behind to hand out candy at our cabin and called me frantically after 15 minutes to say “We’re out of candy!” LOL! It was right about here when I suggested he lock up the place like Ft. Knox and take cover, lest he run the risk of being egged.

I’m really kidding though. Fellow campers are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. In fact, our neighbors handed out maraschino cherries soaked in 151 proof, drizzled with Italian chocolate liquor during ToTing. If that’s not friendly, I don’t know what is. We became fast friends.

^ I think that was after Vin downed his cherry that we walked over to him. ^

We loved this VW bus with it’s fuzzy mustache. Even cooler because it drove through the Halloween parade playing Beatles music.

Driving through the campgrounds in the parade.

Something we see a lot of and would like to add to our camping bag of tricks are big screens (or just sheets) and movie projectors! The four kids were invited over to our neighbor’s campsite this particular night to watch The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.

Taken the morning we were heading home, with a fresh batch of memories under their belts.

Family photo.


Another stunning family photo, this one made frame-able because of Vin’s pajama pants, front & center. Christmas card material I’m thinking…

Mr. & Mrs. Miller, creating fun camping memories for the three little Millers since 2012.

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