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The Great American Campout

Now is the perfect time to forge some community ties and enjoy the great summer weather by staging The Great American Campout. Gather your friends and neighbors together in a park or campground and let the fun begin. Pack the night with games and goodies, and don’t leave home without a checklist of items to bring. Here are some ideas both fun and practical for staging an overnight party in the great outdoors.

  1. Tent Pitching Contest

    Don’t make this set-up step drudgery; hold a tent pitching contest. The game starts with two or more teams with properly packed tents. The first team to set up their tent wins the first prize of the night. Make things fun – and more complicated – by adding blindfolds, or letting one team member keep his vision to give instructions to his teammates.

  2. Campfire Tips

    Make sure campfires are allowed where you are, then build one or more small campfires (a roaring bonfire isn’t necessary – and can be dangerous). Make sure the fires are a good distance from tents, and keep buckets of water or sand nearby to extinguish flames. Ask a musician friend to bring a guitar and haul out all the oldie-but-goody campfire songs, ghost stories and tall tales you can remember from camp as a kid.

  3. Get Creative with S’mores

    Everyone loves the classic graham cracker, chocolate and toasty marshmallow combo, but for those who want to get a little creative with their s’mores, bring add-ins like peanut butter, bananas, chocolate spread, or veer away from the traditional chocolate with caramel or coconut-filled chocolate.

  4. Midnight Scavenger Hunt

    Keep the fun going all night with a midnight scavenger hunt (or earlier if little kids are involved). Set the ground rules, create teams of adults with kids for safety, and make the clues as easy or difficult as you’d like. Before the campout, pack kits with all the necessities: a bag for collecting items, notebook and pen, and a list of items they must find and collect. Award the prize for the team with the most points. If little kids are playing, make sure everyone – not just winners – gets a treat.

  5. Campfire Breakfast

    All you need is a skillet and the campfire for a great camp breakfast – but bring extra grills if you’re feeding a large group. Eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes are the standards, but you can mix things up by frying everything and handing out tortillas for breakfast tacos; pre-stuff prepared biscuit dough with cheese, bacon and scrambled eggs to cook on the skillet later, or make one giant apple pancake in a skillet to divide up.

The Great American Campout

Outdoor camping at night is one of the best times for seasonal allergy sufferers to get outdoors, since pollen counts are generally lower. Make sure to air out your tent in advance, cleaning up any mold. And look for camping areas with trees that aren’t heavy pollen-shedders, and away from open meadows that might be troublesome for ragweed allergy sufferers.