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Camp Games and Activities

Best Camp Toys for Outdoor Fun and Camping

August 4, 2017

©istockphoto/FatCamera

Camp Toys for Outdoor Fun
Just having trees, mountains, rivers and wildlife around isn’t always enough, especially for our kids. Especially when family camping, it’s not a bad idea to provide additional stimulation. And by that we mean non-electronic stimulation.

Toys for Tots?
Camp toys can be fun for everyone and can run the gamut from outdoor play to things to do in the tent during that inevitable afternoon squall. There may be plenty of fishing and hiking to do, but what about when you’re sitting around the campsite? Attention spans are much shorter these days, and if you’re one of those parents who uses the term “these days,” then you know what that means! Our kids are easily bored and toys are essential to ensuring a good time and enthusiasm for future outings.

Old School
We’ve carried a Frisbee in the car for years and though this is an old school toy, it seems to be hip again. Disc golf, which is golf with a Frisbee, is still sweeping the nation with disc golf courses popping up right and left. The great thing about Frisbees is you can play with them anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a little space. There are no batteries required and you actually get exercise, some more than others, depending on your ability to throw.

Older School
Another camp toy we always bring along is a kite. All you need is a little room away from the trees and a slight breeze and you’re in business. Kites are cheap and you can grab one, along with some string, for just a few bucks. Of course you can get fancy with them, but why? Remember too that you are camping, so if that tree eats your kite, get it down Charlie Brown and don’t leave it hanging there.

Go Panning
If camping in the mountains and near a stream, why not go old timer and try to make a few bucks panning for gold. Panning used to be a way of life up in the hills, but now has become a fun hobby for many folks. If you want to get panning supplies and also get instructions on how to get started, go to stansport.com/gold-panning for everything you need to launch that new career. Okay, maybe you’re not ready to give up the old nine to five but panning for gold is fun to do just for well, the fun of it. If you really want to go for it, Stansport has sifter pans, axes and even a youth panning kit with everything junior needs to go native.

Keep it Simple
A deck of cards, a chess/checkerboard set or a backgammon board all come in handy during the inevitable rainstorm. When you pack into the tent, games are the best way to kill time, besides that always appreciated afternoon nap. Unless you’re the type of family that naps together though, we advise you bring any of these games to keep everyone occupied until the rain stops. A deck of cards fits into anything but backgammon, chess and checkers boards are small and easily packed in too.

Get Wet
If you are camping near a lake or reservoir, make sure you bring the toys. There is nothing worse than being next to a lake and not being able to get on the water. You don’t have to invest in a boat and trailer when a raft or inner-tube will do. The problem is: where do you get an inner-tube these days? Well as luck would have it, Stansport.com offers swim float tubes along with 2, 3, or 4 person rafts.

Camp Games and Activities

5 Camping Firsts to Share with Your Kids

July 17, 2017

©istockphoto/kupicoo

Your kid’s first camping experiences have a formative impact on the rest of his or her life. Nature gets in your blood, and the earlier you let yourself be bitten by the camping bug, the richer your life will be. Make sure you share these important and unforgettable firsts with your kids.

The First Fish
Nothing compares to that first fish you pull out of the water. Whether netted from a clear, cold stream or reeled in from a seafront pier, snagging a fish is many kids’ first taste of independence and unbridled excitement outdoors. It’s a great lesson for any young outdoor explorer: the coordination required to perform the act, the tenacity needed to wait it out, and the ultimate sense of accomplishment when they finally succeed, all wrapped in fresh air and quality bonding time.

The First Wildlife Sighting
These days not many children grow up surrounded by wilderness. Those who dwell in cities have perhaps never seen bears, moose, deer, foxes. Strategize to make sure you’re with them and attentive to the joy of the moment when that experience occurs. Keep a field guide on hand and keep your eyes open. Plot out areas like wildlife refuges where the sighting is likely to occur. Your kids will grow up influenced by the importance of preservation and the awe of sharing our planet with so many wondrous creatures.

The First “Off the Grid” Experience
When you venture beyond hookups and wifi access, when you leave the camper at home and grab the old rucksack, you bring your kids back to a time of self-reliance and joy in accomplishment. Whether you set up tent in a designated spot and venture out daily on hikes, or backpack on a family through-hike, you’ll show them that life is meant to be experienced more deeply than gadgets and convenience.

The First “Fail”
Kids are often protected from frustrations by parental buffering. We don’t like to see our kids suffer, so we help them out behind the scenes. Sometimes, it’s great to give your kids a fun, magical boost in confidence. But it’s equally important to let them see what happens when we don’t succeed. Give your young ones some opportunities to mess up. From tents that don’t want to pitch to spilled cooking water, make them reach just beyond their comfort level—while still observing safety practices—then give them the emotional support to overcome goof-ups and improve their performance next time.

The First Wilderness Skills
You know your kids’ level of development and preparation for an outdoor adventure. Each trip will build on the last. The awesome part of this ever-evolving acquisition of skills is that you’ll get to have many firsts with them. The first time you let them help tend the fire. The first time they lead the pack on a hike. The first time they identify constellations on a crisp summer night. You’ll instill in them a sense of progress and a lifelong love of the wild.

Camp Games and Activities

The Secrets to Spotting Wildlife

July 7, 2017

©istockphoto/Soft_Light

Sitting quietly lakeside, I watched a family of ducks swim into view. I knew trouble was on the way.

Not because ducks are fierce, but these ducks were about to swim below an owl perched in ambush. Moments later, there was a dive-bombing owl and a lot of fierce quacking and splashing. The ducks got away and the owl had to keep looking for dinner. During the time I’d sat there, five people had hiked down the trail, but none had noticed the owl. It’s not surprising: wildlife has to be good at hiding to either stay alive or get a meal.

And there’s a lot of wildlife out there, often hiding from us. Here are some things you can do to see more critters, more often, and teach your kids how to do it too.

Crepuscular Is Cool
First and foremost, most animals aren’t active during the middle of the day. Most are crepuscular—active at dawn and dusk—or fully nocturnal. You’ll miss most of the action if you wake up, cook breakfast, do the dishes, and then decide to go see what the wildlife is doing—they’ll already be down for their midday nap. The exceptions are hawks, which wait for afternoon thermals to form, and cold blooded critters like lizards on cool days. Wake up for sunrise and the birds’ morning chorus, go for a sunset stroll or go sit by the river after dark.

Manage Your Ripples
When humans wander through the woods, we send a wave of ripples that leads wildlife to hunker down. A bird hears us coming, chirps out a quick alarm and flies off. Another bird further down the trail hears that alarm call, chirps out their own, and flits into a hole in a tree. A fox recognizes the alarm calls and freezes right near the trail, camouflaged against the base of a tree. We walk by, thinking the woods are silent and deserted.

There are ways to limit these ripple effects we send out. The first is to sit still and be quiet. Eventually the wildlife will either forget you’re there or decide you’re not a threat and go about their business. Limit your noise. Wear minimal scents and lotions—many animals have a sense of smell orders of magnitude better than ours. And leave the pooch at home or in camp: dogs are very closely related to wolves, and wildlife will respond accordingly and get out of Dodge.

Live on the Edges
Wildlife likes edges. The edges of meadows give deer cover they can bolt into if a predator shows up; raccoons feed on the edges of streams, hawks and eagles perch in trees where they can spot prey below. Sandpipers follow the tide line. Bears loiter where rivers flow into the sea or spread out into wetlands. In rivers or oceans, look where currents merge—this stirs up nutrients and insects, which attracts fish, which attracts larger fish. Find where two types of habitat meet and watch those spots.

Use Your Ears
Not everything wants to be seen, but can be heard. Birds and frogs sing—they need to defend their territories and attract mates. Skilled birders can identify birds by song, easier than getting a good look at a tiny little brown creature flitting about in the treetops.

Look Up, Look Down
We tend to look for things at eye level. But most critters will be high in the treetops, soaring in the sky or perched on telephone wires. Or they’ll be going about their lives in the leaves on the forest floor, under logs, under rocks in tidepools or any number of places where we don’t tend to look for them. I once discovered a family of adorable mosquito-eating bats living happily and undiscovered in a friend’s office. How often do you really look in the crack behind the mailbox, anyway?

The Lost Keys Trick
Sometimes sneaking up on wildlife is futile: their senses are just too sharp. When this is the case, just pretend to be interested in something else. Approaching a pair of snowy owls once, I knew there was no way a 6-foot tall human would go undetected. So I acted like I’d dropped keys somewhere in their marshy field, and walked around aimlessly, head down, looking at the ground, not approaching them directly. They decided I was just some clueless bumbler, and stayed relaxed while I got a good view before retreating.

Appreciate the Small Stuff
We tend to think of “wildlife” in dramatic terms: the grizzly pulling down an elk or the eagle snagging a fish. Don’t overlook the wildlife that’s all around you: the squirrels and jays flitting about the campground, the crows dive-bombing the hawk to get it out of their territory, the tiny crabs scurrying around in tide pools. It often packs the same drama…just at smaller scale.

Camp Games and Activities

Rafting While Camping: A Quick Guide

June 28, 2017

©istockphoto/StrahilDimitrov

Rafting While Camping
Sure you can go hiking or climbing or even go fishing on that upcoming campout—but have you ever thought of rafting? If you camp in the right spot, there may be a rafting outfit nearby and chances are, after a few days in the woods you could use a bath anyway.

You Aren’t Alone
If you’re planning on a rafting trip, you’re not the only one. The Colorado River Outfitters Association recently reported rafting companies in Colorado hosted 550,861 guests on 29 stretches of rivers last year. That’s just in Colorado, where there are 229 rivers, and rafting season mainly runs from May through August with June usually having peak runoff. In other parts of the country, rafting season may run the course of summer but if you want rapids, especially Class III or above, you need nearby mountains with runoff.

Don’t Be Like Mike
Be careful who you take with you on your rafting trip, because that is the crew that will make or break you, literally. Rafters are expected to pull their weight, also literally, as you are the horsepower on your raft. You don’t want to end up with the whiney, lazy rafter who slacks off and then screams like a baby in the rapids. After that incident I did apologize to my fellow rafters—but in my defense I did get wet and cold, and those rapids were scary.

Happy Campers
Although some of the most popular stretches of Colorado’s rivers are near quaint mountain towns like Glenwood Springs, Buena Vista and Durango, most rooms are booked way in advance. The camping around each of these cities is as world class as the rafting, so why not pitch a tent and stay awhile? Popular spots like the Arkansas River through Brown’s Canyon in Colorado, which is the most rafted section of river in the States, bring a lot of people to the nearby towns of Buena Vista and Salida. Not only are hotel rooms in the area booked way in advance but so are many campgrounds. You’ll want to consider reservations from a site such as Reserveamerica.com. If you choose the right area you can find dispersed camping on National Forest land. This is real camping without restrooms or showers so that’s why you are going to need that bath.

Really Happy Campers
If you want to go for it and have someone else set up that tent, there are plenty of outfitters to choose from. If you really want to go all out and spend anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks, you can raft and camp rivers from the Chattooga River in Georgia to the Snake River through Hells Canyon Wilderness in Idaho. You can do a 3 day trip down the Arkansas in Colorado or do the grand-daddy of them all and spend 10 days on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Using an outfitter means you don’t have to bring all the gear, or even set it up for that matter. You get your meals cooked for you and you don’t even have to pack the cooler in the car, much less the tent, the sleeping bags, the…well, you get the idea.

Camp Games and Activities

5 Ways To Make Your Family Camping Trip Educational

June 12, 2017

Family Camping
There’s no classroom greater than the great outdoors. The next time you take a family camping trip, use these fun, easy strategies to enhance the educational value of your wilderness adventure.

Use a Field Guide or App to Identify Plants and Animals
Whether you prefer a paperbound book or an online catalog, there are tons of regional references to help you learn about the inhabitants of your campground. Being able to identify the animals they see on the trip not only focuses kids’ attention, it gives them a sense of pride in nature. Teach them to recognize and appreciate the wild world early on and they’ll grow up to practice the conservation skills we all need.

Keep a Wildlife Journal
Naturalists keep records of the plants and animals they encounter on their explorations. Bring along a composition book and some pencils so your kids can do the same. Keep the book with you on hikes and pause to make notes whenever you spot something interesting. At the end of the day, you can add more detailed descriptions or color in sketches made on the trail.

For younger kids, sophisticated observations might be tough, but even they can do simple drawings of what they see. Let each child have their own comp book and share everyone’s notes around the campfire at night.

Build Things
Not all campsites will appreciate your use of natural materials for your own personal fort, but in areas where this is permitted, working as a family to build a small shade or rain shelter is a great way to teach thinking and experimenting skills. Try to avoid giving too much guidance. And let kids have fun figuring out by trial and error how to most effectively put things together. There’s no pride like the pride of creating something. Your kids will feel a greater bond with nature by learning to appreciate its resources.

Search for Constellations
Getting beyond the city lights is the best way to see the stars. When you’re sitting around the campfire, point out the visible constellations. The mythology of how these stars earned their names is great fodder for s’mores story time. If you’re a buff yourself, just talk away. But there are plenty of books and apps to help if your own stargazing skills are a bit rusty.

Grab the Map and Compass
Sure, we’ve got fancy GPS to guide us, but everyone should learn navigation skills. Knowing how to find your way in unfamiliar terrain is not only a critical survival skill, it’s also a great way to increase mental acuity. It also helps your young ‘uns to familiarize themselves with surrounding terrain, so they’re less likely to become lost when out on a hike or excursion. Show them how to use these important tools on a large group hike. Then let older kids do a little nearby exploring on their own.

Compass

Camp Games and Activities

5 Camping Tasks Kids Shouldn’t Do Alone

June 9, 2017

©istockphoto/grubsteaks

Nature is an amazing classroom, and camping at its best will give your kids a healthy dose of independence and self-reliance. But there are some tasks you just shouldn’t let young children do without grownup assistance.

Chopping Wood
This one might seem obvious, but prepping a campfire is one of camping’s most important rituals. It’s a multistep chore that leaves the fire starter with a feeling of pride in accomplishment, and chopping fire wood is one of the most satisfying parts of the process. But the youngest ones in your bunch shouldn’t be swinging the axe. A piece of wood big enough to require major chopping is going to require more energy and dexterity than a child is capable of. If you want to let them in on the process, have them prepare kindling by gathering and snapping twigs. A few splinters won’t hurt anyone, but an axe in incapable hands will.

Tending the Fire
The kids can watch the fire; you can even assign the responsibility to them and make sure they keep their post. But you need to keep a careful eye on proceedings. Kids can’t always identify potential danger early enough to thwart it. And their attention spans are often shorter than those of grown folks. Share the process with them and let them take pride in the event, but never let them go it alone.

Cooking
On the grill, over the open fire, or on the camp stove, camp cooking involves fire. If you’ve got a responsible young camper on premises, assign them some challenging tasks, like chopping produce, turning burgers, and watching for water to boil. But never expect them to put a meal on the table all by themselves. Teach them those camp cooking skills one at a time over the course of the seasons. One day they’ll be responsible adults who can prepare a full dinner while you lounge in the hammock.

Searching for a Water Source
Unless you’re certain there’s a nearby stream (one with a location you can identify), don’t send your young ones alone on a quest to fill the canteens. Sure, they need the freedom to explore and face some environmental challenges, but unless you know the terrain, they shouldn’t do that exploring without an adult helper. From roaming bears to challenging passes, opportunities for bodily harm abound. And kids might not be as observant of park regulations as adults, thus venturing into areas where they’re not allowed. Plus, do you really your seven-year-old to have sole responsibility for filtering the water? Send them in groups when you do let them explore. A wilderness buddy is a good idea at any age.

Plotting the Course
Teaching kids to set the path for a hike or a walk, sharing your compass skills, and schooling them in celestial navigation is a great way to engage their senses and instill pride in accomplishment. But you don’t want the youngest person to be responsible for where you’ll end up. In all aspects of camping, kids can participate and face challenges, just make sure you’re there to guide them if things get rough.

Camp Games and Activities

7 Father’s Day Activities for Dads with Young Kids

June 2, 2017

©istockphoto/shironosov

Father’s Day is about celebrating a man’s relationship with his children, and what better way to do that than by spending a little one-on-one time with them? If you’re looking for ways to solidify that father-child bond with the little ones this holiday, here are a few ideas for activities that everyone will enjoy.

Start a Camping Tradition
Father’s Day is the perfect opportunity to get your kids acquainted with Mother Nature, if you haven’t already done so. Start your own tradition by taking the little tykes out into the woods and pitching a tent. It’s a great way to teach them a few handy life lessons along the way, like wilderness survival kills and how to build a fire. Set aside some time for hiking, have them help you set up camp, and then share stories about your childhood with them around the fire that night.

Fish for Dinner
Fathers have been teaching their sons and daughters to fish since the dawn of time, so why not give it a shot this year? Granted, some children aren’t too keen on sitting still for that long so you might have to include ways to make it a little more exciting than usual. Rent a boat or canoe and hit the lake, or make a game out of who can catch the biggest fish. Let the kids have fun and splash in the water, regardless of whether it might scare off the fish.

Build Something
There’s nothing like little hard work to bring people together, so try building something with your kids to spark their imagination. Have you been thinking about putting a new table out on the back deck? Sit down and design one with the tots. They can help with the simple steps, like painting, and if they’re old enough, nailing a few things together. You can also build picture frames, shelves or chairs if you feel those are more in line with your kids’ skills.

Pan for Gold
If you live near a riverbank or don’t mind making a trip, gold panning is a great option for spending time with the kids. A simple kit doesn’t cost a lot and can keep everyone entertained for hours. You don’t have to stop with just looking for gold; rocks will do just as well. Your kids will have a blast splashing through water and digging for buried treasure while you join in.

Explore a Cavern
Few things spark a child’s imagination as effectively as a dark and spooky cavern. Take your kids to the nearest hole in the ground and let them explore the world of bats and stalagmites. It’s a great time to work on your storytelling skills while you fantasize about mythical worlds full of vampires and other creepy creatures. Your kids will have a great time poking around dark corners and you might even learn a thing or two while you’re there.

Go Golfing
Father’s Day is the perfect time to work on your golf game and get your kids started early on loving the sport. Depending on their age, you might have to resort to mini-golf, but that’s still pretty fun. Help them perfect their swing or just use them as a caddy, whatever works best. It’s a great opportunity to bond with your child and maybe catch up on what’s happening in their lives.

Visit a Museum or Historical Site
Kids love to learn about new things and that’s why museums and historical sites like battlefields are great choices for a Father’s Day trip. There’s usually enough to see and do to keep the little ones from getting bored, and you’ll make them smarter in the process. It’s a win-win. Anything with dinosaurs would be a definite plus.

Camp Games and Activities

Fun Family Activities for Snowbound Camping

April 25, 2017

©istockphoto/mixetto

Planning a high-altitude cabin getaway or camping trip with the family this season? These easy on-snow activities can help put the wonder in winter wonderland for grown ups and kids alike.

Track Animals
Tracking animals in the snow demonstrates to kids that while nature may seem to freeze during the winter, it’s actually full of movement and drama. You can use both the prints and the scat you find on trails or in copses to make predictions about what type of wildlife has recently been in the area.

The melting snow can change the size and depth of prints, so before mistaking a bunny for a bear, pay close attention to the positioning of the prints. Patterns can help you differentiate among species.

When examining scat for clues, use the shape to give you hints about the critters that have recently passed by. Fox scat is tubular, with a taper at both ends, while pellet-shaped poop might signify birds of prey.

Use a Frozen Banana as a Hammer
The usually soft, mushy banana can be transformed into a tool when left in the snow. The fruit is mostly water, so when frozen, it becomes rock hard, suitable for driving a nail into a board!

Be sure to wear gloves while handling metal items in freezing weather. And if you’ll be letting the kids take a swing or two with the banana hammer, supervise closely to avoid smashed fingers.

Create Your Own Flurry
When the temperature really drops low—think -30° Fahrenheit—tossing a small cupful of boiling water can create a mini snowfall. Cold, dense air can’t hold much water vapor, so the steamy hot water instantly becomes a confetti of snowflakes.

To avoid serious injury to yourself or your kids, you’ll need to avoid strong, unpredictable winds and keep the young ones at a good distance from the demonstration. While some dramatic videos show people tossing pots full of water to perform the trick, you can make it a lot safer by tossing only a cupful.

Build a Snow Fort
It’s fascinating that something so cold can be used to build a living space. While you probably don’t want to shelter in your snowy dwelling for any substantial length of time, you and your family can work together to construct a cool fort, perfect for regrouping between snowball fights. The best building snow is densely packed to form bricks. Experiment with different floorplans and brick-laying schemes to determine which is most effective.

Play Snow Golf
Think you can’t play nine holes in the snow? Think again! You can set up your own personal golf course by sinking coffee cans into the snow. Use a hockey stick to putt tennis balls into each hole.

Make Snow Ice Cream
After running around playing with snow all day, everyone will be ready to enjoy this quick culinary treat. With just a few easy ingredients—and no cooking—you can whip up some snow-based ice cream. Just make sure to use very fresh, clean snow!

Camp Games and Activities

6 Tips for Planning a Romantic Rustic Valentine’s Campout

February 13, 2017
©istockphoto/hoozone

©istockphoto/hoozone

Fancy dinners are nice, and red roses are classic, but if you’re looking for a unique way to create Valentine’s Day memories, what about a good rustic camping trip with your special someone? Set the mood with these easy tips.

Go by Yourselves
While it might seem obvious that spending time alone together is important to the health of your relationship, it can be easy to get swept up in the need to connect socially with family and friends. While camping in groups is a great way to bond your whole crew, this one is about the bond between you and your love. Leave the kids with the grandparents and forgo the urge to share the trip with other couples. Giving yourselves a little distraction-free time to focus on each other exclusively will make your nature adventure truly swoon-worthy.

Set the Mood with a Hike
Nothing connects a couple quite like being together in nature. Search the trails around your camp for romantic vistas, secluded waterfalls, and flower-strewn meadows. Take the time to exchange thoughts and feelings about the scenery. Recite a little poetry on a high outcropping. It’s easy to feel swept away when surrounded by wild beauty, so let your inner-romantic shine!

Take Sunset Selfies
The golden hour is the time of day when our skin looks its glowing best. It’s also—maybe not coincidentally—one of the most romantic times of day. Commemorate your campout by snapping some photos of you and your sweetie as the sun sinks lower. Whether you opt for silly or snuggly, you’ll have a priceless souvenir of your getaway.

Make the Meal Special
The idea of creating a four-star meal at the campsite might seem intimidating, but with a little forethought, fine dining is totally doable. You can prepare many sides ahead of time (especially those that are meant to be served chilled). Whether a salad full of seasonal vegetables or a platter of stuffed and marinated mushrooms, focus on fresh ingredients. Grill a couple of high quality steaks or herbed and seasoned chicken breasts for your main course. And for desert? What about an easy chocolate fondue?

Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep
On a normal campout, you’re probably a no-frills packer. But if you’re sleeping in an old, beat-up sleeping bag on a disintegrating foam pad or skimping on comfortable chairs and camp accessories, it’s time for an upgrade. After all, it’s nearly impossible to sustain the mood when your back is aching or you’re freezing all night.

Do Something Unexpected
Memories are made when you abandon routine. Being outdoors provides plenty of opportunities for adventure and spontaneity. Your location will determine your options, but choosing to share a new experience with your Valentine is a great way to foster closeness and love. Whether it’s a guided horseback trail ride or a moonlit marriage proposal, make this your most unforgettable camping trip ever.

Camp Games and Activities

6 NFL Road Trips to Help You Cope with the End of the Season

February 10, 2017

The football season is over and the Patriots are the Super Bowl champs. Suffering from football withdrawals? We understand. But if you take your tailgating on the road this spring, you can get your fix with a visit to one of these iconic places in gridiron history.

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, OH
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Since its 1920 founding, the NFL has transformed from a ragtag collection of factory workers moonlighting as football players to the dazzling spectacle we know and love today. The Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio—pro football’s birthplace—gives scope to that history. Check out busts of each HOF player in the league’s history (the Chicago Bears top the list with 32 inductees) and feast your eyes on the fascinating paraphernalia of the league’s 96 years.

Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
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The hallowed turf of the Green Bay Packers is a favorite among players and fans alike. The stadium has been renovated to accommodate new technology and better game viewing, but even amid the modern upgrades, the 60-year history of this field remains palpable.

Even a springtime visit is likely to be snowy, but no matter: just pretend you’re attending the Ice Bowl!

Chappell’s Sports Bar, Kansas City, MO
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Lamar Hunt, the first owner of the Kansas City Chiefs was the architect of the American Football League, which merged with the National League in the 1960s to create the football behemoth that dominates modern professional sports, putting KC solidly on the football map.

The city’s extraordinary barbecue puts it solidly on the culinary map.

Combine these two crowd-pleasing elements and what do you get? Chappell’s. A place where you can dine in the presence of unique sports memorabilia. It’s the perfect place for a pit stop after you’ve finished touring Arrowhead.

AT&T Stadium, Dallas, TX
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Everything is bigger in Texas, and the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium is no exception. Completed in 2009, the enormous complex seats 80,000 fans, boasts the world’s 24th-largest HD video screen, and contains multiple plush luxury boxes. It also features some fantastic contemporary art.

Tours are offered on days when the field isn’t in use and range from a self-guided wander to a guided VIP experience. So grab the old pig skin and get ready to throw a few down on the field.

Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco, CA
If you get the chance view a game at the 49ers’ denim-friendly stadium, take it. The newest and most high-tech home field in the NFL offers lightning-fast WiFi and lets you use an app on your phone to order a hot dog straight from your seat.

If you can’t get game tickets, you can still tour the facility.

CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
This is where 12th Man operates as the league’s most infamously top-decibel cheering squad. Seattle Loves its Seahawks, and you can tour the stadium to get caught up in the excitement.

If attending a game, you can help Hawks fans in their contest for loudest cheer on record. The honor has shifted between Kansas City and Seattle in recent years.


If you want to use this list as a starting place, you could make it in about 64 hours nonstop—pretty decent for a couple weeks’ worth of a laid back road trip. If this isn’t enough to get your NFL fix, feel free to add in as many other stops as you want along the way!

Camp Games and Activities

Accessories That Make Camping Exciting for Kids

December 28, 2016
kids camping
kids camping

©istockphoto/kirin_photo

Kids have short attention spans, so if you plan on takings yours out into the woods for a weekend getaway you’d better come prepared with things to keep them entertained. There’s only so much that walking and playing with sticks can do to keep some tots excited about being outdoors. Here are a few things you might want to have on hand.

Lantern/Glow Sticks
Campfire stories are a tried and true tradition when it comes to spending a night out in the Great Outdoors and they’re a must for every trip with the kids. To spruce yours up a bit, make sure you bring along a lantern, flashlight, or glow stick for them to use as a prop during story time. It’ll help set the mood or at least give them something to focus on and play with if you’re not great at spinning a convincing yarn.

Camping Toys
Depending on your child’s age you might not be comfortable handing over a knife for them use for sharpening sticks. Luckily, there are plenty of kid-friendly toys out there that resemble the real thing. Have them bring one along and you can use it to teach them proper safety methods until they’re ready for the real thing. Another fun idea is to bring along buckets and a scavenger hunt list to give them reasons to explore.

Gold Panning Kit
There’s likely going to be at least one creek, river, or stream somewhere near your campsite, so why not bring along a gold panning kit for them to play with in the water? You can teach them how to go about searching for gold and, if you’re lucky, they might make you rich in the process. At the very least it’ll keep them occupied for an hour or so while they dig and daydream about what to do with all the money they’re going to have.

Craft Materials
The wilderness is a great place for your child to discover his inner Picasso. That, or just figure out some fun stuff to do with leaves. Bring along some craft paper and glue, then find some extra twigs and materials to help make projects at your campsite. Leaves can be used to create awesome animal portraits or you might even be able to put together a makeshift fishing pole with some sticks. Let their imaginations run wild!

Hammocks
The only thing kids love sleeping in more than a bunk bed is a hammock. Bring along a couple of these so you and the tots will get a great night’s rest while also having something comfortable to lie in during the day. They’re perfect for naptime if you’ve got little ones with you and they can be fun to gently swing on if they’re hung safely.

Mason Jars
We all have memories of running through the backyard when we were young and catching fireflies, so help your kid create those same moments by bringing along a mason jar or two. They can use them to gather fireflies around the campsite or simply collect other bugs and creepy crawlers for fun. Just remember to poke holes in the tops so they don’t suffocate and maybe let them go before you leave.

S’mores
This seems like a no-brainer, but a lot of people tend to forget to bring these along on camping trips when they reach adulthood. Gather the right supplies and even throw in some fun ingredients to make it more exciting for the kids. Candy corn, M&Ms and other candy aisle goodies make great toppings.

Camp Games and Activities

8 Holiday Reads About Wild Places

December 19, 2016
camp read
camp read

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When it comes to the holidays, you and yours probably have garages and basements full of gear. So let’s inspire the mind. Here are some outdoor literary gifts to spark adventure with your loved ones and outdoor pals. When it’s dark and cold outside and craving the wild open landscape of exploration instead of holiday events, they’ll take you their, at least in spirit. Fire up the woodstove and put your feet up.

arcticArctic Dreams by Barry Lopez
Few books have embraced such a large, forbidding, and poorly understood region as Lopez’s sweeping masterpiece. He brings his reader along on a journey across the Arctic, following herds of caribou, native villages straddling traditional societies and modern life, polar bear biologists who rely on equal parts science and native knowledge of the landscape, oil surveyors, muskox, and ice, an migratory birds. Lopez, the pre-eminent living nature writer, saw in 1986 the beginnings of transformations of the Arctic region that is accelerating today. His writing is as captivating as the landscape.

nakedBorn Naked by Farley Mowat
The preeminent nature writer in Canada, Mowat, spent a lifetime writing both about how nature affected his life on a personal level. Born Naked is part childhood hilarity, part origin story, and unadorned recollection of outdoor adventures and misadventures. From childhood vacations, ill-conceived river trips that lacked a river, cavorting with owls, and sailing adventures with Mutt, Mowat’s now-famous family dog, you’ll be laughing and reminiscing about your own childhood the whole time.

homelandsHomelands: Kayaking the Inside Passage by Byron Ricks
There are two journeys in Ricks’ and his wife’s kayak journey from Alaska’s Glacier Bay to their home in the southern edge of Puget Sound. The first is tan actual paddle trip through the string of islands and fjords that cling to the western edge of the continent from tidewater glaciers to Seattle’s glass and steel towers. The second “inside passage” is a journey into their own psyches. Recreational paddlers more than serious adventurers, Bryon and Maren bring their insecurities, fears, joys, and discoveries of the landscape and themselves to the page as they adapt to life on the water, only to be thrust back into civilization as they paddle south. Many have taken this journey and written about it. Few have done so in the same way.

silenceInto the Silence by Wade Davis
Countless books have been written about Mount Everest, and even more about the conflagration that was the First World War. Few have linked them. Davis looks deep into the spirit of George Mallory and the 1924 expedition to climb Everest in 1924, where they seemed to vanish into the sky. (Mallory’s body was found in 2007). Davis starts their climbing journey in the trenches of Europe and a nation traumatized by war. Davis makes a rare and insightful glimpse into what motivates people to great height, and the haunting lure of mountains on the human spirit.

alaskaLeaving Alaska by Grant Sims
Alaska has always evoked idealized visions of various paradises: wilderness, frontier ruggedness, endless resources like fish, oil, or timber, or refuge for those trying to “Light out for the territories ahead of the rest.” Then the Exxon Valdez shattered both its hull, and the innocence of that vision on Bligh Reef. Sims takes in the effect on the souls of Alaskans in the wake of both the spill, and all the while he wrestles with his own sense of place. He brings the reader along with his heartache as few can. You won’t look at Alaska the same way again.

riverThe River of Doubt by Candace Millard
Most former Presidents work the lecture circuit and write the memoirs. One decided it would be fun to explore an uncharted river in one of the most dangerous places in the world. After leaving the White House, Theodore Roosevelt joined an expedition to explore an uncharted tributary of the Amazon, a journey on which he nearly died multiple times. A portrait of a river, and expedition and the Amazon itself, Millard’s account is thrilling, terrifying, and inspiring at the same time.

whyThe River Why By David James Duncan
Written as the coming-of-age tale of a fish-obsessed kid in Portland, Oregon, Duncan’s book is much more. At times hilarious and at times transcendent, the reader absorbs a deep love of rivers, the desire of a growing child to break free, and how landscapes shape people. Duncan weaves a potent mix of obsession, quest and self-examination familiar to any outdoor adventurer. Hint: skip the movie.

tigerThe Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant
When an Amur tiger kills a subsistence hunter in an isolated corner of the Russian Far East, the leader of a team of anti-poaching conservationists, is called in. With tigers, and with Valliant, nothing is quite as it seems. Vaillant pulls the lid off of a complex stew: tigers, conservation and livelihoods in post-Soviet Russia, and the rare characters that inhabit the endless taiga of a forgotten region, and the eons-long interactions between humans and big cats. You won’t forget Yuri Trush or Vladimir Markov for a long time.