Camp Gadget Merry-go-round

Camp gadgets don’t have to be boring.  I’ve previously written about building catapults.  And while you’re Safe Guide assessor is probably not going to sign off on a full sized one of these, why not try to make a teddy bear sized one.  Ideas for other adventurous camp gadgets can be found on


Soaping a Pot

Soaping a pot is a technique used to make washing pots after cooking over an open fire easier.  If your girls are new to the technique it is important to go over it carefully with them.  I’ve seen many rushed Guiders giving instructions that were misinterpreted by the girls.  This often results in soapy stew and is not recommend.

How to soap a pot: 

  1. Turn the pot over so the bottom of the pot faces upwards.
  2. Squirt a little liquid dish soap on the bottom of the pot.
  3. Uses your hand or a dish rag to spread the soap all over the bottom of the pot and up the sides of the pot but not in the pot.
  4. Cook over an open fire.  The outside of the pot will turn black.
  5. When it is time to do the dishes, you will find the black rinses easily off the pot.  Unsoaped pots require a lot of scrubbing to remove the black.

More Alternatives to S’mores

As I said in my 2015 post No S’mores Tonight,”there is nothing wrong with a s’more at campfire”. But here are even more alternatives to s’mores if you want to expand your camping desert menu

Lemon Meringue “Pie”

Two slices of white bread with lemon pie filling and marshmallows toasted over the fire in a pie iron.

Pita Pie

Half a pita with a pie filling such as apple, blueberry or cherry spread inside.  Wrap in foil and toast over the fire.  After you remove it, add wiped cream before eating.


Two 2-bite brownies with a mint patty in between.  Wrap in foil and warm though on the coals.

Orange Cupcakes

Cut the end off an orange and scoop out the insides so that the skin is a cup.  Fill the cup with prepared cake mix (or muffin mix) and cook above the fire or in a reflector oven.

Campfire Ice Cream Cones

Much like a banana boat, take an ice cream cone and fill it with your choice of marshmallows, bananas, strawberries and/or chocolate chips.  Wrap in foil and cook over the coals.

or if you can’t build a fire you could try…

Individual Chocolate Fondue

Make a mini tin can stove out of a soup can by cutting off both the top and the bottom and cutting some air holes in the sides.  Place a tea light candle under the can and a foil tart tin over the top of the can.  Then melt some chocolate chips in the tart tin.  Dip piece of fruit or small cookies in the chocolate.


Boiling Water Competition


  • A large safe site for several small fires and fire equipment such as a water pail
  • Fire wood, mostly tinder and kindling
  • Matches
  • a tin can per team filled with water
  • dish soap

While you wouldn’t want to drink water with dish soap in it, a drop of dish soap can be an effective way to figure out who boiled water the fastest.  The soap will bubble up with the water is boiling clearly demonstrating the wining team.  Be sure to review safe fire lighting techniques and make sure all the girls have their hair tied back and are wearing appropriate clothing.


Tin Foil Dinners

I do not have fond memories of tin foil dinners from when I was a girl.  When we made them when I was a Guide the chicken was either so raw I’m surprised we didn’t all come down with food poisoning or the whole meal was so burnt that everything tasted like tin foil.  I recently returned to the idea of foil dinners but now I use pre-cooked protein for much better results.


  • pre-cooked protein such as chicken breast, sausage or vegetarian patty
  • white and/or sweet potatoes
  • vegetables such as corn, carrots, zucchini, onions, celery etc.
  • butter or vegetable oil
  • heavy duty tin foil


  1. Clean and chop the potatoes and vegetables.  You want to make sure all the pieces are a pretty consistent size and not too thick or large.
  2. Mean while, build a fire and form a bed of hot coals
  3. Give each girl a piece of foil and let her build her own dinner.  This way everyone ends up with what they like.
  4. Wrap the dinner like a package with the shinny side of the foil on the inside.
  5. Wrap in a second layer of foil to ensure all the good stuff stays inside the package
  6. Lay on coals to cook, turning occasionally.
  7. Cook for approximately 20 min, open and enjoy

Tin Can Stove

A tin can stove is a simple portable stove that can be used to cook over a buddy burner, charcoal or commercial solid fuel.

To make one you will need:

  • a large can such as an apple juice can or a large metal coffee can
  • a bottle opener
  • tin snips
  • can opener


  1. If both ends of the can are closed, use a can opener to open one end all the way.  This step may not be needed with a coffee tin
  2. Wash the can out (be careful of the sharp edges)
  3. Flip the can over so the unopened side is now the top. Use the bottle opener to create a ring of air holes near the top.
  4. Use the tin snips to cut a large square opening from the bottom to let in even more air.

Tip: if you are using a coffee can or something similar that had a plastic lid that fits the can, save this lid.  It can be placed over the open end during transport so the cut corners of the large air hole doesn’t cut or catch on anything.

Once you have your stove made you can use it for all sorts of camp recipes.  Perhaps the easiest is to toast things like grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadilla or pizza pitas over them.

Buddy Burners

Traditionally I’ve always used tuna cans, but at a recent camp we tried small  individual serving cat food cans.  The Guider who collected them feeds her cat the food twice a day so the cans were easy for her to collect and used less wax then tuna cans.  It is easier to make buddy burners on a different day then when you want to use them.


  • Small flat cans
  • corrugated cardboard
  • a wick or birthday candle
  • paraffin wax or old candles to melt down


  1. cut the cardboard so it is in long strips the same width as the height of the cans.
  2. Tightly wind the cardboard around a wick or birthday candle until it will fill the can tightly.  It may help to play with the cardboard some so it will be flexible enough to roll.  You want to fill most of the can with cardboard otherwise it will take A LOT of paraffin to finish the burners.
  3. Melt the wax in a double boiler.  It is often wise to use a can as the inside boiler otherwise clean up can be tricky.
  4. Fill the cans to the top with wax and allow to cool thoroughly.

Buddy burners can be used under a tin can stove or in a park bbq for some quick heat.  I recommend bringing an old flat pot lid or large can top to snuff out the burners when you are done.  Also pack some oven mitts.  Do not under estimate how hot the cans can get.  Be sure they are completely cool again before packing them away on a hike.