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What's Cookin'?

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Hey, Camping Cooks!

Food is an essential part of everyday living and that doesn’t change when you’re camping out in the great outdoors! Like the history of summer camp itself, cookware history calls back to primitive roots that turned domestic. So, before there were pots and pans—much less stovetops or ovens—how did people cook their food? Let’s dive into the past to see how things got started!

Long before anyone ever heard of a place such as the kitchen, cooking was done outside the way it’s done when we’re out on a camping expedition: right over a good ol’ campfire. Boiling water was just as essential of a process back then as it is now. And some extremely resourceful minds realized that turtle shells were a perfect waterproof cooking pot.

Of course, while turtle shells got the job done just fine, turtles weren’t always handy. Stones, on the other hand, are plentiful. Instead, people would carve out from large stones to create big bowls that would become permanent fixtures in the hearths of early homesteads.

Stone worked well for cooking, but it took lots of time and work to fashion bowls out of rock. A much simpler option called pottery was on the rise. Pottery, made from the clay of the earth, was developed to create earthen cookware. Ceramic pots were easy to transport and much easier to fashion than its stone predecessor.

Ceramic cookware still had its drawbacks, though. It was a poor conductor of heat and would crack in too high of temperatures. This led to long cook times over a low degree of heat. Yet, this was the primary means of cooking until the 1600s when metalworking skills were developed and introduced to the kitchen scene of medieval days.

Though extremely heavy, cast-iron is hailed as one of the best materials to cook with (even today). It does not, however, lend itself well to the camp life. More modern developments in cookware have produced much more camp-friendly means of cooking materials.

The Bugaboo Mess Kit from GSI Outdoors, for instance—and available here at Everything Summer Camp—is made of non-stick coated aluminum for a lightweight, efficient means of cooking! Enjoy our modern means of cooking over an open fire and, as always, thanks for reading!

 

- John


Footlockers of Forever Ago

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Hey, Footlocker Fans!

Camp trunks go by many names. We call them footlockers, trunks, strongboxes, chests, cases—whatever you prefer! Perfect storage for camp gear, toys, out-of-season clothing or holiday decorations, footlockers offer a secure means of safekeeping for valuables and keepsakes. They’ve been used for a wide array of purposes throughout their existence.

I wrote about the history of camp trunks a number of years back, but that post focused chiefly on American trunks for the 1600s forward. On today’s post, however, we’re going to peel back the layers of time to see how trunks were used in the Dark Ages.

While we cover our trunks, made of Birch Plywood with steel, trunks of the 16th and 17th centuries were covered in cowhide or the skin of another animal. Before that, the trunks of an earlier period typically wore their varnished or stained wood right on the outside! Trunks were typically finished with brass or iron hardware. And, on rare occasions, trunks would be ornamented with embossed or engraved gold.

The size of a trunk can vary a little or a lot. Treasure chests of an older world could be as big as a Graduate Trunk from Everything Summer Camp or as small as one of our Packing Cubes and they were fairly common for storing and transporting large amounts of riches.

Pirates are known for coming into ownership of these treasure chests by means that were either lucky or criminal and burying them. “X” marks the spot! However, more often than not, pirates never buried their treasure. There’s actually only one pirate who was known for burying his treasure: William Kidd. And his strategy was simply popularized by fictional tales such as ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Trunks sure have changed their material, appearance, size, and use throughout the ages. At Everything Summer Camp, we know trunks are always changing and we’re thrilled to be a part of the change with our innovative Designer Trunk constructions that feature quality prints of illustrations and patterns across the entire trunk! And, though we don’t fill our trunks with treasure, we know they’re built to be treasured for many years to come! Check out all the camp trunks we have available and, as always, thanks for reading!

 

- John


Tell it to your Diary

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Hey, Camp Fans!

You don’t have to be Ernest Hemingway to keep a diary or journal. In fact, lots of people who wouldn’t consider themselves gifted writers keep a book of blank pages by their bedside to record daily events as well as their thoughts and feelings about certain occurrences, relationships, and goings-on in general. So how did this custom of chronicling our lives start out and why did it become so popular?

Long ago, bound books of blanks pages weren’t so readily available to anyone and everyone—such material was typically used for more official matters. Journals were kept by explorers and sea captains for record-keeping of their journeys and expeditions. These log entries were used by the first captains to sail the seas of the ancient world.

Often times explorers were sent out on their missions by kings or other authorities of their homeland. Logs were kept so they could properly inform their superiors of what they saw and what transpired during missions. Historians would use journals to record the historical facts of the times for accurate preservation of history for future generations.

As the world moved on to more modern times, diaries and journals became commonplace items to find in homes. Much like the intrepid explorers that came before them, kids of the last couple centuries started writing entries in journals to keep track of their daily happenings.

But a curious blend began to take place that did more than just record the events in a dry, straightforward manner. It was a personal touch that introduced the inner thoughts and inner feelings from the author concerning the daily events they were writing about. This brought a reflective and intimate kind of connection to journal and diary entries.

Suddenly, these personal writings became even more personal as they contained secrets about who likes who and honest thoughts that kids would only share with a diary. These bound books were made with locks and keys to keep the written contents safely out of view from prying eyes. Journals and diaries started being hidden beneath mattresses, the back of sock drawers, top closet shelves, and other places that nosy siblings might not check.

As a means of aiding growth and maturity, we understand the importance of journals and diaries here at Everything Summer Camp and we enjoy coming across some hot finds that we just know we have to offer on our website. Take a look at some cool ones when you click right here and, as always, thanks for reading!

 

- John

 


The Tale of Table Tennis

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Hey, Sports Fans!

A popular enough sport that most summer camps across the country offer it in a rec. room or maybe in a gym, Ping Pong—also known as Table Tennis—is, rather obviously, the lawn game Tennis adapted for playing indoors on tabletop. Tennis, which was invented in 1873 France, only took about a decade to make its indoor transformation in Britain.  

The term Ping Pong is typically the one you’ll hear used by amateurs while formally trained players refer to the sport as Table Tennis. But the two names refer to the exact same game. The name ‘Ping-Pong’ was coined by the English firm J. Jaques and Son at the end of the 1800s and later became trademarked by the Parker Brothers board game company which popularized the name.

The game caught on quick in England. By 1901 tournaments were being held, bringing in more than 300 participants. It was a Japanese college professor who encountered Table Tennis during his visit and introduced the game to his students. Soon after, a British salesman named Edward Shires introduced the game throughout his travels to Vienna and Budapest. Table Tennis was suddenly gaining popularity the world over!

In roughly two decades, The Ping-Pong Association was formed and was quickly renamed as the more official-sounding Table Tennis Association. Interest in the game steadily grew for the next 30 years or so until around 1950 when it exploded with the invention of the sponge.

Also called ‘sandwich rubber’, the Japanese used this new material for their paddles which proved a much higher capacity for command over how you hit the ball. Putting spin on the ball was hardly a part of the game until this new material made it that much more possible.   

Whether you call it Ping Pong or Table Tennis, enjoy playing wherever a table is available. You can even play when you’re out camping with our awesome Backpack Ping Pong Set! Intended for play on a picnic table, check out our backpack set we offer by clicking here. And, as always, thanks for reading!

 

- John


Bug OFF!!!

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Hey, Buggy Boys and Girls!

We all know bugs go back a long way. Longer than people do! Bugs have a history that surpasses even dinosaurs—back to a time when some would grow to the size of a soccer ball. Fortunately, they don’t get so big anymore, but bugs are still a big botheration and they always have been for people.

Insect repellents help prevent and control the outbreak of insect-borne diseases such as malaria, Lyme disease, dengue fever, bubonic plague, river blindness and West Nile fever. But our bug repellent formulas are less than a hundred years old.

So what did we do in the past about the bugs and how did we arrive at the handy dandy insect repellent we use today?

People and animals alike have been employing some means of bug repellent for a long, long time—likely back to prehistoric times. Multiple species of primates have been observed smearing one another with millipedes and a few different types of plants. Birds have been seen performing a similar anointing behavior. Both birds and primates are thought to be doing this to deter bugs.

The use of repellents was first recorded around 450 BC by the writer Herodotus who saw Egyptian fishermen use oil they extracted from the castor-oil plant. Other remedies of the time were the burning of a slew of different items such as fish, shells, bones, dung, snakeskin, and feathers.

One of the earliest means of keeping the bugs at bay is still widely used in the modern day—smoke from

wood-fires (sometimes with herbs like mango wood, coconut husks, and wild ginger leaves thrown on the fire). People used to stand in the smoke in order to cloak themselves in the deterrent.

It was only in the 1950s that military research started concocting formulas they could spray on themselves and ‘wear’ like the Repel brand you can find right here as well as the all-natural route the Ranger Ready brand which is also available at Everything Summer Camp. As advancements continue, you’ll find some apparel is made with built-in repellent so you are quite literally WEARING the repellent just by getting dressed!

Be sure to protect yourself with the most convenient means of the modern day found here at our one-stop camping gear shop, Everything Summer Camp and enjoy the outdoors without all the bites! As always, thanks for reading!

 

- John