Category Archives: Campfires

Recipe of the Week (#100DaysofScouting Day 870…Oops!)


Wow, first post back in a very very long time.  Fittingly, it is about food!

A couple of weekends ago, I went on a campout with Troop 18 (my son’s troop, where I am an Asst. Scoutmaster) to Put-in-Bay.  We all agreed we wanted to spend as much time kayaking, fishing, going into town and bird watching, and as little time as possible cooking.  So Saturday evening’s dinner was about as minimal as you can get, but it packed maximum flavor and the boys and adults all agreed it was just that. darn. good.  The boys dubbed it “Prison Slop.”  Here’s what would pass as a recipe:

Prison Slop

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 box (6 lb) of instant mashed potato flakes
  • 3 pounds cheese (shredded, cubed, type doesn’t really matter)
  • 3 pillow packs (1.5 lbs) sliced pepperoni
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

(Equipment needed:  One turkey fryer burner with propane tank, one large stock pot with lid, big spoon for mixing and serving.)

Heat the water in the pot until just starting to boil.  Remove from heat and add potato flakes.  Stir until well combined and mashed potatoes are achieved.

Add in the cheese and pepperoni and mix thoroughly, stirring until the cheese is melted.

Serve to hungry campers as-is or with salt & pepper to taste.

Camp Like An Egyptian (#100DaysofScouting, Days 11-14)


Sorry to disappear for several days there, but I’ve been incommunicado.  I wasn’t abandoning my 100 Days of Scouting efforts, I was immersed in a totally new (to me) Scouting environment:  Girl Scout encampments.

I’ve stopped counting how many bag nights I’ve had camping as a Scout leader since getting back into the movement in 2006, but I’m sure I’m well over 100 by now.  But all of them had been with either Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts.  My oldest has been a Girl Scout since Kindergarten and other than writing the checks for fees to camp and other events each year, I hadn’t been very involved with her program.  I always felt a little bad about that considering how much time I put into BSA programs with Jon in all the roles I do at the pack level and above.

So when Brandi (former Cubmaster for the pack, was my program director for 2008 Cub Twilight Camp in Springboro and is currently the Service Unit Manager for NOVA 449 of the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio) asked me to take a position as part of the service unit team as “Camping Coordinator” I agreed.  That was about six 8 months ago.  I helped with a campout last summer that ended up being about 10 people total, and then I helped give the CSA a presentation on Campfire Program Planning (I used the same course materials I taught at University of Scouting).  I also showed up to a couple of meetings and helped teach knots to some of the girls.  Overall, it wasn’t too much work but I was glad to help.

The first big event that I was drafted to assist with was the winter campout.  This is a pretty big deal, one of the larger events the Service Unit pulls off each year.  In 2010 there were about 85 total people there (campers, program aide’s [PA’s] and adults).  This year our attendance went up and we had 118 people registered (several no show’ed on us, I think about 113-115 actually showed up).

We held the event at Camp Stonybrook over on Route 73 near Waynesville.  It was the first time I had spent more than a few minutes at that camp, and it was very nice!  We had the dining hall and the two lodges that are grouped nearby (Pinetree and Ittman), as well as the Director’s Cabin nearby down the hill.  There were girls aged from 5 (Kindergarten) to 17 (High School).  They were divided up based on age and program level.  Daisies had one side of Pinetree and were one group.  The Brownies were broken into two groups (pink and yellow) and all stayed on the other side of Pinetree.  The juniors were also broken into two groups (Red and Aqua) and took half of Ittman, while the other half of Ittman were our PA’s and PA’s in training (Cadette and older).  The most experienced and mostly the oldest of the PA’s, our Leader PA’s (LPA’s) were in the Director’s Cabin.  Each area separate sleeping areas for youth and adults and there were adult leaders with them.  Being the only male in the entire camp, I got the entire dining hall to myself.  I also got my own special bathroom.

We started the event on Friday about 6:00 PM and ended about 3:00 PM on Sunday.  The camp-in (called a camp-in because they were sleeping in lodges not tents) was themed “Camp Like an Egyptian” and most activities were based around that theme.

I was really impressed with the whole experience.  And honestly, it wasn’t too much different than running a Cub Scout camping event for about the same amount of people, at least from the standpoint in what I was doing as Camp Director.  The biggest differences I noticed:

  • Camp names.  We use nicknames in my den, but each leader and PA had their own camp name that was used solely in place of their regular name.
  • Songs – Not that there aren’t songs at Cub Scout camp, far from it.  They were just different songs.  And some of them are STUCK. IN. MY. HEAD. three days after camp!

I personally had a great experience and was really glad to have been able to go and help out (or at least I hope I helped out).  The girls were great!  And the LPA’s really were on the ball with being in front to get done what needed to get done, if Brandi or I needed something we told one of them and they made it happen.  And everyone seemed to be okay with having a (big hairy) man there, and letting me throw in a couple of things I thought would be neat to do, like introducing the girls to the Order of the Fork!

So now that I’m recuperated from that event (being up dealing with issues until 2:30 – 4:30 each night will make you kind of tired), we are working on an online survey for the parents to take to use as feedback for next year’s event.

And then, after I get through Blue & Gold this weekend, we start planning the Service Unit spring camp-out (at Camp Hook in May).  And then the Pack campout in the summer as well.  I think I’m going to be criss-crossing ideas and ways of doing things back and forth, kind of using the best of both worlds.

This should be fun!

Recipe of the Week (#100DaysofScouting, Day 9)


So it seems like each Wednesday was the day to post something food related, so I’ll keep with that topic for this week.

At our district’s Klondike Derby each year, the adults from each unit who run the cities participate in a chili cook-off.  There’s a travelling trophy that gets engraved with the winner’s name and that unit holds onto it for the next year and it is handed in, re-engraved and handed out to the next year’s winner.  Neat idea.  Plus in the early January cold it is always nice to be able to get some warm grub at each station!

So last weekend was our district’s first ever Cub Klondike (see my previous post), and I decided at rather the last minute (10:00 PM the night before) that I was going to make chili at my city.  I ran Nome where we did the Good Camp / Bad Camp station (I set up the camp and made five errors that were either poor camping skills or violating Leave No Trace and the boys had to identify each to me for their nuggets), so I was already going to have a kitchen set up, why not cook?  So I threw together a chili which isn’t terribly original but turned out excellent if I do say so myself (and I do, as did several other people at the event who partook in it).  So I figured I’d share the recipe.

(I should note that my “recipe” was basically to take the instructions from the back of the chili seasoning packet and modify it with some extra stuff, so McCormick’s should get some of the credit I suppose.  What can I say, it was 9 hours before the event and I needed to get some sleep, I didn’t have time to come up with my own seasoning mix!  Next time I’ll be more creative, and I’ll be sure to share the results with you too!)

Middletownscouter’s Special Valentine’s Day “Hearts on Fire” Chili

  • 2 packages McCormick’s HOT chili seasoning mix
  • 1 package McCormick’s original chili seasoning mix
  • 3 pounds ground beef
  • 2 8-oz cans Tomato Sauce
  • 2 15-oz cans chili ready diced tomatoes (with onions)
  • 1 15-oz can hot chili beans
  • 1 30-oz can regular chili beans
  • 6 cups water
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • Diced white onion (optional)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Sliced pickled jalapeños (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Crackers (optional)

(Note: I cooked this recipe over a propane camp stove.  You could also do this over a campfire but be careful to monitor constantly to ensure even heating and no burning.  You also will want to soap the OUTSIDE bottom and sides of your pot so they don’t get permanently carbon scored.)

Season the ground beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then brown in a large stock pot.  Once there is no longer any visible pink in your ground beef, drain off the fat and return the pot to your heat source.

Add in the seasoning mix, tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans and water.  Stir until everything is completely combined. (Note, if you are doing this at camp, it helps to bring a can opener.  Opening six cans of stuff with a pocket knife takes a lot of effort and a lot of time)

Bring chili to a boil, stirring occasionally (making sure to hit the bottom of the pot so nothing sticks and burns on).  Once the chili is boiling turn down the heat (or move to a cooler area of the campfire) and allow to simmer until at the desired thickness / consistency.

Serve to hungry campers as-is or garnished with onion, cheese, jalapeños, sour cream or crackers.  Makes a LOT of chili, at least 12 full meal size servings.

Shiny of the Week – Feb. 11, 2011


(As in “oooooooh, shiny! I must have this!”)

So I’m going to try out an idea to do a post a week on some sort of piece of gear that I really enjoy using while camping or for other Scouting purposes. We’ll see how it goes.

For the first one, since I’ve got the dutch oven thing going on for the last post and a few previous to this, I’m going to make this my first “Shiny of the Week.”

The Coleman Parchment Paper Dutch Oven Liner
Coleman Dutch Oven Liners

These things are the bomb! They make the worst part of dutch oven cooking (clean up) the best part! So worth the cost. I know lots of units will use aluminum foil to line their dutch ovens and that works but whatever you’re cooking (say beans or chili) could get through where the foil overlaps or stirring can destroy the foil and then you get baked on bean residue in your dutch oven (and possibly a little extra aluminum in your diet if you don’t watch out). These liners are so much easier than that. When you’re done you just lift it out and the already clean dutch oven is ready to be oiled and put away. Just like that! I am now a fan.

I’ll even go to the Walmarts to buy them, and I make a point to never shop there normally! So kind of a short post today, but that’s my first “Shiny of the Week.” What do you guys think about the liners, or what method have you found that works well on making dutch oven cleanup easier?

Campfire Stories


So I was reading back on the Scouting Magazine blog and came across the post on great campfire stories. I had one pop into my head that I heard when I was a Boy Scout (or possibly a Webelos), told around the campfire by Mr. Fisher. The story builds into a joke but not until the final punchline and if you tell it right you can string the boys along for a while. I’ll tell what hopefully is a decent retelling of my own version of that story below.

“The Worst Thing I Ever Did”
(rewritten and embellished by Middletownscouter based on the original telling by Mr. Fisher)

Boys, it has been a great weekend and we’ve once again learned about the outdoors and about doing our good turn daily. But I want to tell you, I know that it is hard to be good all the time and sometimes we all fail. And that’s okay, we learn from our mistakes and move on. As hard as it is to believe, even I sometimes was guilty of not always doing my best to be a good Scout. So tonight I want to tell you a story about the worst thing I’ve ever done.

It was quite a long time ago in August of 1986. I was about your age, between Webelos and Boy Scouts, and it was the summertime. And boy, was it hot! You couldn’t be outside for more than a couple of minutes without your shirt being soaked with sweat. The kind of heat where you wanted to spend the day at the pool with your buddies watching the pretty lifeguard. You get the picture.

Well, for me that day was even hotter. Because not only was I not at the pool with my buddies watching the pretty lifeguard, I was at the house. Doing yard work. I spent the morning pulling weeds from the garden and edging the sidewalks. Backbreaking labor, on my hands and knees with gloves on pulling prickly weeds from the mulch covered flowerbed followed by using a garden spade to slowly cut a nice clean edge along both sides of the sidewalk and the driveway all down the front of the house. And my Walkman was broken, so I didn’t even have any music to listen to. It was brutal! I think I lost ten pounds from sweat that morning. After a quick respite from the heat for lunch, I was all set to ride my bike over to the pool, but alas, it was not to be! “You’re not going anywhere until the lawn is mowed,” my mother told me. All that work and now I had to mow the lawn? How unfair is that? Needless to say, I was in a very bad mood as I pulled out the ancient lawnmower and got it started up.

Now, the entire time I had been outside that day, so had the neighbor’s dog, Scruffy. They had this little fur ball Jack Russell Terrier that constantly barked at anyone it could see. It didn’t matter that I’d been around this dog for years, it still barked. Neighbors, mailmen, delivery men…it didn’t matter. This dog barked at them all. And it wasn’t so much the barking itself – that’s how dogs talk, after all – it was the pitch of the bark. It was a small dog, and it was a high pitched YIP YIP YIP type of bark. Imagine that, will you? It’s the middle of the summer, 100 degrees in the shade, you’re hot, sweaty, deprived of the chance to hit the pool with your buddies, forced into manual labor by your parents, and all the while there’s this constant YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP…it was too much for any man to take! I was trying to just get it done, get the yard mowed and if I couldn’t get to the pool at least I could take a shower and go to the movies to see Top Gun that night when all of a sudden, COUGH SPUTTER WHEEZE…the mower ran out of gas! I go to the garage to get the gas can and it’s empty! I had used the last of it to fill the mower the week before but forgotten to tell my dad so he could fill it up. Oh no! “Well, at least I was going to get a bike ride in that day,” I thought.

I got a bungee cord and strapped the gas can onto my bike and was rode the two miles each way to get the gas can filled up. Going out wasn’t too much of a problem even though it was mostly uphill. Coming back was a tricky proposition – the gas sloshing one way and then another made balancing the bike pretty difficult, but luckily I was able to coast a good way back since it was mostly downhill. Pulling into the driveway at the house, I hit the curb wrong and went down hard onto the sidewalk. Scraped up my arm and my knee, but worse of all about half the gas spilled out of the can! It just wasn’t my day. While I should have been thinking “A Scout is Cheerful,” I was just getting madder and madder at my poor luck. It was hot, I was injured, forced to do yardwork, wrecked my bike, spilled gas on the driveway and the whole time that stupid dog kept on YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP YIP! It was too much to take!

I grabbed the gas can and went over to the mower, and filled it up. It had died pretty close to the fence between my yard and the neighbor’s and the dumb dog Scruffy was right there barking his fool head off. I had had enough. I went over to the dog’s water dish and put in the last little bit of gas left in the can. The dog, still barking, went over to the dish, sniffed it, lapped up the liquid, then stopped barking. Finally!

I started up the mower and was nearly finished mowing the lawn when I saw the strangest thing. Scruffy was going nuts! Running around in circles making the strangest noise I had ever heard from a dog, halfway between a growl and a yelp. He did this for a minute or two and then suddenly stopped and BAM!, fell over on the spot.

(At this point the story teller stops talking. When Mr. Fisher did this to us, we boys just stared at him waiting for him to go on, not wanting to ask the question we all had in our mind. Finally, one of the boys – or perhaps a planted extra adult if the boys don’t do it – will ask, “Did Scruffy die?”)

Nope, he just ran out of gas!

*rimshot*

Note: No animals were harmed in the telling of this story. It is a joke, feeding gasoline to an animal will severely hurt or KILL it. Seriously, DON’T DO IT. Professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt.

%d bloggers like this: