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A Celebration of Campcraft and Camp Cookery - Mar 19, 2023

Dan Foster

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Some of my favorite NSPN memories have involved a group of paddlers clustered around a blazing campfire, waiting anxiously for the proper moment to dive into a freshly-prepared Spanish tortilla, a fragrant stir fry, or a steaming pot of foraged shellfish. On other occasions, I've choked down my poorly-rehydrated meal-in-a-bag while huddled around a wet, smoky fire on a cold, windy morning. In the spirit of encouraging more of the former and less of the latter, I invite you all (well, up to 8 of you) to join me in a celebration of camaraderie, camp cookery, and campcraft. Over the course of a long day, we'll work together to prepare a few memorable outdoor meals and hone our fire building, camp cooking, and other useful outdoor skills.


In the morning, we'll focus on individual cooking, using the gear we've already got. We'll start the day with caffeine, delivered in as many ways as the group can come up with. We'll prepare brunch using a variety of canister stoves, twig burning stoves, and open-fire cooking, and do a show-and-tell of everyone's favorite cooking gear. We will review camp and cooking safety and hygiene and talk about a number of potential outdoor cooking techniques and how they can be adapted to a kayaking trip.


After brunch we'll head out into the woods for a couple hours. We'll forage for birch bark and other dry tinders, scout for good burning wood in a variety of wetland and upland areas, hang bear bags and rig tarps, and practice some useful camp knots.

Back in camp, we'll lash together some cooking tripods, process wood for fire building, learn to start fires with just a spark, and have a fire building competition. We'll cook a communal dinner over the fire, and finish the evening with a dessert baked in the coals.



Sample menu (to be refined once the group's dietary demands are known)

A caffeinated welcome

Brunch classics, cooked individually or in small groups: eggs, bacon, breakfast sandwiches, veggie hash, blueberry pancakes.

A walk in the woods

Happy hour: shucked oysters, reflector oven nachos

Communal dinner: paella, stir fry, kebabs, garlic bread

Dessert: blueberry crisp


The Celebration will be held at the private residence of an eccentric hermit in Stow, MA. There will be access to an indoor bathroom, covered outdoor patio, fine china and serving and eating utensils, and running, cold potable water. All cooking, dining, and celebrating will be done outdoors, in whatever weather nature provides us that day. Miserable weather will cancel. Mildly-unpleasant weather will simply add additional motivation to hone those tarp pitching and fire building skills. Plan to be outdoors for the entire day and evening, and working at or near ground level around muddy, hot, flaming things and people. This is a group learning experience, not a workshop, clinic, or class. Bring leather work gloves, an open mind, and share the knowledge and skills that you can. Food costs will be split evenly on the day of the event. A simulated raccoon named Jess will be in attendance.


This is a dry run for what I hope will be a recurring event, although given the mid-March timeframe, a "mud run" is probably more descriptive. Round two will probably be a communal cooking pod on a club camping trip, where a number of us collaborate on some group meals. The March event may need to be rescheduled if we get late-season snow or soaking rains.


Due to the logistics of trying to create a menu that accommodates everyone's allergies and dietary preferences while also incorporating a range of outdoor cooking techniques, I'm going to waitlist everyone who expresses interest for a few weeks, and then invite a group of eight that I can build a menu around. I'll try to accommodate anyone who misses out in a future offering.


If you are interested in attending, please send me a private message, and include the following:

 - any food ALLERGIES

 - your food or dietary PREFERENCES

 - any concerns with the following potential menu items: bacon on its own, foods cooked in residual bacon grease, raw oysters on their own, shellfish, chicken, or pork chorizo (as paella ingredients), cheese

 - how interested you are in open-fire cooking vs. Jetboil/canister stove cooking

 - how interested you are in communally-prepared meals on a future group trip, vs. cooking your own food individually.

 - what, if any, gear, gadgets, or expertise you might want to share with the group during this event



Edited by Dan Foster
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  • 2 weeks later...

This event is now full. Because the date is subject to change due to weather, I'm not going to maintain a waiting list. If space becomes available in the week leading up to the event, I'll offer those slots up here. Click "Follow this Content" up at the top of the page if you want to get notified if that happens.

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