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June is National Camping Month and has been observed since the 1970s.  Growing up my family went tent camping as a part of our family vacations. Once in a while we’d be with my grandparents and were able to stay in their fifth-wheeler camper; a luxury compared to a tent. Regardless of how you camp, you must consider food safety as you plan, prepare, and pack your meals.

A campsite with tents, camping chairs and a campfire
Our Campsite in 2021

Every year over the July 4th weekend, a group of friends and family go camping in the woods on a friend’s property. On these trips we don’t have electricity so there is an extra level of caution needed to ensure we keep our food at the proper temperature. Depending on your style of camping you may have a water source, electricity or both. Our annual camping weekend is quickly approaching, and I am getting ready to set our menu. As I make my plan I wanted to share a few menu planning and food safety tips with you.

Preparation

One year on our annual trip, no one remembered to pack a spatula or tongs; making cooking over a fire even more adventurous and creative. Your packing plan needs to include everything you will need to prepare, make, serve, and eat each meal.

  • Make a menu, choosing basic recipes with limited steps and a low number of pots and pans.
  • Utilize recipes with overlapping ingredients and bring only the required amounts.
  • Plan meal portions to reduce meal preparation, leftovers, and waste.
  • Consider preparing parts of the meal before leaving for camp.
  • Incorporate shelf stable foods into meals and snacks.

Cleaning and sanitizing

Potable water is water that is safe to drink and is also the water you should utilize to clean your hands and dishes. Be sure to include biodegradable soap on your packing list. Include enough water for each person to drink, prepare meals, and wash hands and dishes. Alternatively, you can boil clear water from a stream or clear lake for one minute to wash dishes. Consider bringing hand sanitizer or disposable sanitizing wipes both for hands and surfaces. Be sure to clean up your campsite after each meal to deter unwanted animal visitors.

Keeping cold food cold and hot food hot

Cold food, prepared food, and leftovers all must be kept under 41°F. We utilize ice with our coolers, and place a thermometer in each cooler so I can quickly check the temperature.

  • Use a separate cooler or place raw meat (double wrapped) at the bottom of the cooler to keep it away from all other food. You can also cook the meat prior to leaving for camp to reduce chances of cross contamination.
  • Consider a separate cooler for meal food and ingredients versus drinks and snacks. The kids are always in and out of the drink cooler a million times which causes the ice to melt faster; making it harder for the cooler to maintain temperature.
  • Pack a food thermometer to ensure you are cooking food to the proper internal temperature.
    • Ground meat should be cooked to 160° F
    • Raw beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks or chops to 145° F
    • Raw poultry to 165° F
    • Hot dogs, precooked meat, and leftovers to 165° F
a camp stove

Cooling and Storing Food: The two-hour rule

Food should only be left out for 2 hours, then cooled rapidly. If the temperature is over 90° F, then you should discard food after 1 hour. The temperature danger zone is the range of temperatures between 40° F – 140° F where bacteria multiply rapidly. Remember if you put a hot food item in the cooler to cool, you are heating the temperature of the cooler and melting ice more quickly. When in doubt, throw it out. Leftover food can be burned instead of thrown out.

Additional details to consider

  • How will you transport and store your cooking equipment?
  • Where will you store nonperishable food and cooking utensils?
  • Your plan should include how you will “Leave No Trace” (i.e., no lasting impact or effect on the environment and eco-system.)

Regardless of your camping or glamping style, make sure to make a plan for camp and food safety before you head out!

Written by: Laura Halladay, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Greene County.
Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County.

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 1). Water treatment options when hiking, camping or traveling. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/travel/

Garden-Robinson, J., & Totland, T. (2021, June). Keep Food Safe when Camping and Hiking. North Dakota State University- Publications. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/keep-food-safe-when-camping-and-hiking

Klemm, S. (2021, November 17). Hiking and camping with Food Safety in Mind. EatRight. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.eatright.org/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/outdoor-dining/hiking-and-camping-with-food-safety-in-mind

U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Leave No Trace Seven Principles. National Parks Service. Retrieved June 16, 2022, from https://www.nps.gov/articles/leave-no-trace-seven-principles.htm

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CampingEvery year around this time my daughter and I start looking at camps that she wants to attend over the summer. Sending your child to camp can be overwhelming for the first time. When picking a camp think about your child’s interests. You may also want to consider your family finances. How much can you afford to spend on the camp? Are there special items you need to purchase for the camp?

To have a successful camp experience, remember to include your child in the decision making process. Check out the camp website – you should be able to see pictures of the area and activities which will help your child get excited about going to camp. If there are reviews by campers, take time to read them.

American Camp Association suggests you consider these things before enrolling your child:
• What locale do we want to consider? (mountains, ocean, distance from home)
• Do we want a traditional camp that gives my child a wide variety of experiences or do we want a specialty camp that focuses on a particular activity or set of skills?
• What size enrollment will make my child feel comfortable?
• How rustic do we want the camp to be?
• How structured do we want the program to be?
• Does my child want lots of choice in the activity schedule?
• Is my child ready to sleep away from home for an extended stay? This will help you to select either a resident or day camp setting.
• What session length will appeal to my child and to our family plans for the summer? (One week? Two weeks? Eight weeks?)
• How can we stay in touch with my child during camp? Does the camp allow mail, phone calls, texting or e-mail? Does the camp have parent visitation days?
• How will the camp meet my child’s special dietary or physical needs?
• What is my budget for camp tuition? Remember, many camps offer financial aid.

There are many things to consider when selecting a camp. Think about your family, your child and their needs and interests before registering. Make the camping experience a positive way for your child to gain independence, learn new skills, and make new friends.

Happy Camping!last day of camp

Source:
American Camp Association
http://www.acacamps.org/

Writer: Brenda Sandman-Stover, Program Assistant, 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Greene County, sandman-stover.1@osu.edu

Reveiwer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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