Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Camping

New to us, but obviously not new to the camping world is Halloween camping weekends. We tried it out this year for the first time because a state campground 30 minutes from our house was having a Halloween camping weekend over the kids MEA break. So we thought we would try fall camping with a twist this year.

Trick-or-treating: I am normally the parent that stays behind to hand out the candy at the house Halloween night, so getting to walk with the kids was a new treat for me this weekend. My brother-in-law and I took off with three of the kids in toe to walk the campground in search for candy. If the camp site was participating in the trick-or-treating, they had a paper pumpkin on their campsite marker, all the kids had to do was walk up to the site. Trick-or-treating while it is still light out was a little different, but you got to see everybody's decorated sites and all the kids costumes that way.

Site Decorating: While trick-or-treating, there was also a camping site decorating contest going on at the same time. Participation was optional, and again, the pumpkin sign indicated to the judges who had entering the contest. There are some mighty talented people out there using their creativity to decorate their sites. It is different decorating a campsite as opposed to your house. First of all, your house is always the same, so you know where all the decorations go each year. At a campsite, you have to work with the site you are at, which can change from year to year. We ended up bringing a small, but compact, amount of our decorations to the site. The pictures below show what we did with our spider theme. We had lit witch broomsticks with fake pumpkins, there were foam bats in the trees hung with fishing line. Spider webs in one tree with a sound activated flickering light under it, and plastic spiders thrown into the web. Spider lights hanging from the awning and spider plastic window coverings fit perfectly into the big window of the pop-up. Plastic spiders, with the help of scrapbooking glue dots, climbed up the camper door, and more foam bats were hanging about. The picnic table had some Halloween fabric laid across it and candles lining the middle. We also had green rope lighting duct taped under the table, but that really didn’t work well and will skip that in the future. And to light the path to our site and bonfire were plain lunch bag luminaries with a spider glued to the front of each of them. Everything we brought was compact, flat and easily packable as to not take up much room in the truck. The whole family got involved in the decorating, and in the end we ended up with a 2nd place win! Not to bad for our first time out. Decorating for holidays is one of my passions, and Halloween is by far my favorite holiday, so being able to enter a contest for my decorating….yes, we will be doing it again next year.

It looked much cooler at night, it looked plain during the day, but at night in the dark, the true fun of Halloween happened.

Costume Contest: There was a campground wide costume contest for all ages. All you had to do was show up at the big picnic pavilion after trick-or-treating in your costume to be entered. So after trick-or-treating, the whole family walked down to the pavilion to check it out. My oldest son did dress up, but did not want to participate in the contest, he was a Hawaiian Tourist. My daughter did not want to dress up at all, even though I made her throw on a Hawaiian dress to match her brother, she went back to regular clothes as soon as I took their pictures. Now my youngest son, who is still trick-or-treating prime age, had a blast dressing up as a robot. He was covered in two tin-foil covered boxes with do-dads from the garage glued all over him. Dryer vent arms and plain gray sweatpants finished off the look. The big draw to his costume was the green battery operated Christmas lights that poked out of his chest box on two sides. The biggest advantage to his lights was that we didn’t need a flash light walking with him, he lit the way for all of us! He wasn’t trying to find out who the secret judges were at the pavilion, he was just having a good time drinking hot chocolate and trying not to fall over. He couldn’t touch his hands together or pick anything up off the floor, so the adults had a good time teasing him. When the judging time came around, all the contestants lined up in a big oval so they could walk around and look at all the different costumes. Our little robot ended up winning 1st place by a unanimous decision. He was glowing from ear to ear, and it wasn’t just because of the Christmas lights. He came home with a trophy to display in his room and a Smore cookbook that will be a new addition to the camper.

Pumpkin Carving: There was also a pumpkin carving/painting contest for anybody to enter also. It was won by individual secret voting when the pumpkins were all displayed on a picnic table. I have a respect for people who can take a vegetable and some tools and make beautiful works of art. I am the plain carver with jagged teeth and triangle eyes, but the people who can carve spider webs with spiders hanging from it into the side of a pumpkin have my vote to win. It did include painted pumpkins also, even though there weren’t any displayed, I might have to plan ahead and try that next year.

If Halloween Camping sounds like something fun to you, check out your state’s campgrounds, or family owned campgrounds to see if they are hosting a Halloween weekend. With just a little extra planning, or even just a bucket of candy to give out, it can turn into a fun family weekend or maybe a new tradition like I think it did this year with my family.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Family Outing 2011

This year for our family fall outing we decided to try a corn maze. Not the little ones that pumpkin patches have on the side of their pumpkin sales to try to draw in more people, but the big corn mazes where the maze is the main attraction. We went to Shafer’s Corn Maze which is one of the biggest corn mazes in the state of Minnesota. I have seen the intricate designs on the news every year, but have never made the trip out to Shafer to walk the maze before.

So on a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon we made the trek after church. Because we had just come from church, we were all wearing long pants, which normally wouldn’t be an issue this time of year. But we have been having an unusually warm fall this year in Minnesota, and it was 83 degrees and no clouds to help cut the heat (normal high is 61 this time of year). By the end of the day, my little guy ended up finishing the maze with no shirt on. It was a fun, but hot afternoon at the corn maze, here is the breakdown of the Shafer’s Corn Maze.


Adults (12 and up): $8.00
Kids (5-11) $5.00 – must have adult present
4 and under: free

Friday 3pm to 9 pm
Sat-Sun 12 noon to 9 pm

The Maze is located just south of Highway 8 in Shafer, Minnesota. As it is a field, there is not an official address to enter into your GPS system. You can enter the intersection of Hwy 8 and Quinlan Lane which will bring you right to our location.

Corn Maze:
2011 "Welcome to the Dragon’s Lair" Maze with over 4 miles of paths cut into 12 acres of corn. Complete the challenge by finding all 12 checkpoints. New challenge this year: FIRST person every Saturday and Sunday to locate the "Princess" will receive a free pass for this years "Stalkers of the Corn" Haunted maze!
Back for 2011: FSI - Farm Scene Investigation. Farmer Joe is missing. There was an incident, and it appears to be foul play. Collect the evidence to find the weapon, the suspect, and the location where the crime took place. Every week in October the solution will change!

Other Activities:
Adrian Fisher Rope Maze (survivor style)
Farm Animal Petting Zoo including: pigs, goats, sheep, geese, calf and miniature horse
Pony Hop Races
Classic Corn Bag Toss (corn hole)
Milk the "Cow"
Picnic Area
Stalkers of the Corn Haunted Maze

Pumpkin Pile

In My Opinion:

It was a fun afternoon of having the kids trying to guide us through the checkpoints in the corn maze. We only got lost once and quickly found our way again. When we got to the end of the maze and asked what to do with our punch cards, she told us “Nothing, they are your souvenirs”. So to be honest, I would have rather walked through the maze without the punch cards and just had fun walking the paths. There are no prizes, drawings or giveaways for completing the maze. The kids had fun with the Pony Hop Races because it was something new that we had not seen before. The kids were having fun taking on their Dad in Corn Hole until little kids came over and started stealing the bags and the parents thought it was funny and didn’t stop them. The pumpkin pile was sad, there were about 30 pumpkins to choose from, and none of them were worth picking. My little one enjoyed petting the animals and jumping in the hay pile. I would have enjoyed more concessions.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Preparing for Halloween

Maybe late September, early October most people start thinking about Halloween. This year we started planning Halloween on the last day of school, June 9th.

My youngest son brought home a one month old pumpkin plant that he planted at school. We then proceeded to plant the little pumpkin plant in the small herb/tomato garden in the front yard.

To be perfectly honest, we forgot about the little pumpkin plant because we were more focused on the tomatoes. We had a beautifully raining spring season that helped water it for us. One day we went to look at where the pumpkin vine was growing to, and saw a large green pumpkin. At that point we put a plate under it to keep it dry and off of the rocks below. We watched and checked on it everyday, watched it turn a brilliant orange. Just tonight we decided it was time to pick it so that it has time time to cure before carving night.

Watch our homemade video of him picking his first home grown pumpkin. Next year we are planning on planting a few more plants to try our luck again.