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Treats and maybe a few tricks this weekend at Hickory Hollow

October is officially here, which means campers at Hickory Hollow Campground won’t think twice when little ghosts, goblins, vampires and witches start to appear at their RV steps this Saturday.   After all, they are used to hearing the screams from across the street at Huston’s Haunted Hallow this time of year as the ghosts prepare for Halloween in Milford Township.  But this weekend may be a bit less theatrical when the little campers, instead of the ghosts, show up screaming “Trick or Treat” to their fellow campers with pumpkin baskets held out to collect their candy and treats that have become a popular tradition over the years.

If our campers are like 41% of Americans, they will be including some spooky decorations to put up around their RV sites this weekend.  Popular picks usually include pumpkins, skeletons, corn stalks, orange and purple lights, hot-air balloons and a spider or two.   A viral sensation last year was the 12ft skeleton from Home Depot, so be on the lookout for one of those floating around. Hickory Hollow will be having their annual decorating contest on Saturday, at 9 pm, we can’t wait to see how our campers decorate this year because we know you love Halloween as much as we do.  Children love the decorations, but they love our annual Trick-or-Treating event even more.  Kids of all ages are invited to Trick-or-Treat throughout the campground, Saturday, October 9th during daylight hours from 11 am – 1 pm.   Even though there may be a few tricks at Hickory Hollow Campground this weekend, treats will be the real draw!

The tradition of going door-to-door asking for food dates back to the Middle Ages when the less fortunate would go “souling” on November 1. In exchange for food, they would agree to say a prayer for the deceased the next day on All Souls Day, November 2.   Later in Scotland, the tradition of “Guising” became popular during this time of year.  The spirits were thought to be moving around more during Halloween as their prepared to cross over to the other side.  The people started to wear masks and costumes to disguise themselves at Halloween to prevent evil spirits from harming them.  In England and Ireland, the custom was called “Mumming.”  Shenanigans started to accompany the costumes and mischief makers would sing a rhyme, do a card trick or tell a story in exchange for a treat.  If that treat wasn’t presented, a “trick” could be played. For 19th century children, tricks included sticking hot cabbage into keyholes to stink up a house or jumping out to scare people. 

When European immigrants arrived in America, they brought along their Halloween mischief and requests for treats and throughout the ages, the tradition of “Trick or Treating” has continued to gain steam.  Today, major candy companies endorse the holiday, Halloween decorating is becoming even more popular than Christmas decorating, and adults and kids alike love dressing up and asking for treats. 

A good Halloween scare should come from Huston’s Haunted Hollow, not accidents or injuries within the campground, so we want to make sure everyone used safety measures this weekend when the little goblins are out “Trick or Treating.”  Drivers should be especially alert to pedestrians of all ages while coming and going from the campground.  Please follow the slow speed limits posted upon entering, and use extra caution as the kids may be scurrying in and out of campsites more interested in getting their next treat instead of safety.  Make sure the kids are visible when trick-or-treating.  Make sure costumes do not impede your child’s ability to walk or see, and always test makeup for skin irritation, and make sure wigs and accessories won’t cause a hazard like choking.   Parents, it’s okay to ration the candy bounty so no one overindulges and feels ill later on.  After all, we do want the kids enjoying the rest of the weekend’s events too. 

“When black cats prowl, and pumpkins gleam, may luck be yours on Halloween.”

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October Offers “Some More” Fun at Hickory Hollow

Oh, the clichés of fall! Camping, feeling the chill in the early morning, enjoying the rustling of the fallen leaves as you walk through the woods, and sitting around the campfire eating s’mores while enjoying the beauty of Hickory Hollow Campground.  These are some of the best days of the camp season!   Campers are enjoying every last minute as the camping weeks start to dwindle away and the thoughts of winterizing the camper become real.  Please nature give us “some more” good weekends to enjoy all the beauty that Somerset County has to offer.  When we talk about “some more” something else comes to mind, the contracted term “S’more.”

We are all familiar with the traditional S’more made over the open campfire that combines the sweet, stickiness of marshmallow with the creaminess of chocolate and the crunchy grain of graham crackers together for a favorite campfire treat.   This messy, gooey treat has been a camping favorite since the 1920’s when a similar recipe called “Graham Cracker Sandwich” appeared in a cookbook.  Boy Scouts were eating the tasty treat back in 1927, and knowing boys, they were probably saying “some more” please.  But the credit goes to the Girl Scouts when they published the “Some More” recipe in “Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts” in 1938 when the shortened-contracted term “S’mores” name became popular at summer camps.

S’mores graduated from a campfire favorite to an official word in the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 1974.  But the three special ingredients, found in the traditional s’mores, have come together before in favorites like Mallomars in 1913, and MoonPies in 1917, proof that we humans love the taste of mixing marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers together.  Eating s’mores over the last hundred years has been great, but let’s go in a different direction this week.  Why not try your hand a making a seasonal version of the famous “Graham Cracker Sandwich” this month as we enter into a season of change? 

Local apples are abundant this time of year, so why not try making Caramel Apple S’mores – thinly slice a Granny Smith apple and remove the core.  Place a toasted marshmallow inside of the two apple slices. Drizzle with caramel syrup or you can add some melted caramel. Add a caramel candy to the end of the marshmallow stick when toasting and transfer it over to the apple with the marshmallow.  Or replace the caramel with peanut butter.  Tastes so good! 

Gingersnap S’mores is another version of the old camp favorite- make your own gingersnaps or purchase them and add a toasted marshmallow and melted chocolate bar for a tasty fall treat.

If you can’t seem to get enough pumpkin spice – try making this seasonal version of the s’more.  Pumpkin Spice S’mores– Add a toasted marshmallow between graham cracker squares, top off with white chocolate and pumpkin butter. 

S’mores aren’t just for kids anymore, so enhance the flavor and make a fun adult version of Maple Bacon S’mores by whipping up a batch of candied bacon.  Place bacon on a rack, combine brown sugar and cinnamon and rub onto the bacon to lightly coat.  Bake for 35 minutes, let cool, and then cut up, layer between a toasted marshmallow and  graham cracker and enjoy. 

If you are brave enough to try the Maple Bacon S’more, add a Pumpkin Spice Wine Spritzer that will really impress your guests as well.  Add ice to a low ball glass, pour 1 oz pumpkin spice liquor and 4 oz. white wine, top off with seltzer and garnish with a cinnamon stick. 

Another fall cocktail you may enjoy is the Apple-Pie Cinnamon Cocktail.  Run a bit of honey on the rim of two glasses, then dip the rims into a mixture of 2 tablespoons of sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon.  Fill glasses with ice. Combine 2 oz. vanilla vodka, 2 oz. Fireball whiskey, and 8 oz. of apple cider and shake well for a tasty fall adult drink. 

If you are looking for a more cozy latte recipe to try, replicate Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte.  Pour 2 oz. of milk, 2 oz of sweetened condensed milk, 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree, and 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into a saucepan and heat on medium heat until the milk warms up.  Use a whisk or drink mixer to froth the milk. Pour into a cup, add a shot of espresso and your toppings of choice – whipped cream, pumpkin spice, vanilla extract/ syrup or caramel sauce. 

I encourage you to try some of the special fall treats I suggested while camping over the next few weekends, but don’t forget about the added treat that is also available at Hickory Hollow Campground this time of year. The eerie night sounds of screams and laughter coming from across the road at Huston’s Haunted Hollow. The popular haunt attraction is celebrating 25 years of shrills and thrills every weekend in October – Friday and Saturday nights from 6:30-10:30.   Campers love sitting outside and hearing the guests scream, but if the screams are captivating your attention and you are wondering what is going on over there, then purchase your tickets on line at hauntedhollow.net, and you too can join in on the haunting good time as you embark on the adventure of escaping the Haunted Hollow, Willie, and all the other spooks that are looking forward to scaring the pumpkin spice right out of you.  If you have ever seen The Doctor or Willie, you have reason to be scared.  If you don’t like clowns, you may also have a reason to be scared.  If you don’t like walking around in the dark smelling the foul odors found in the swamp and hearing the wolves howl, you may have yet another reason to be scared.  But if adventure is just not your thing, campers can still experience the haunted hollow by signing up for a behind the scenes tour at the campground. The experience will take you to where the screams start…. but be prepared, you never know who may show up in broad day light to prove that the black of night is not the only scary thing around the Hollow this time of year!!  “Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, voices whisper in the trees, soon it will be Halloween.” Happy Camping my friends!

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Fall- The Best Of All

If you think the end of summer means the end of your camping adventures for the year, think again.  September 22, officially kicks off the Fall season and probably the absolute best season to enjoy the great outdoors and camping in Somerset County.  Fall is a fantastic time to enjoy your favorite home away from home at Hickory Hollow Campground. Campgrounds tend to be less crowded in the Fall when the kids go back to school and the pools close; and camping during off-peak season may save you a few bucks or you may be able to reserve that premium site that wasn’t available all summer.  So, don’t get the RV cover or the anti-freeze out yet because some of the best camping for the year is still waiting to be had!

One of the best reasons to go camping in the Fall at Hickory Hollow Campground, located in picturesque Somerset County, of course, is the beautiful natural scenery that can be enjoyed from the lakes to the mountaintops.  The colors come out in full splendor and the cooler temperatures and shorter days make it the perfect season to enjoy lots of cozy time around the campfire.   Most campers will agree, there is almost nothing more enjoyable than relaxing outside of the campsite after dark surrounded by family and friends enjoying a warm fire, great conversation and stargazing.  Summer camping always includes some pesky unwanted guests like mosquitoes, but camping closer to that first frost significantly reduces the bug population, so you can concentrate on the stars instead of itching. 

If you are looking to experience Fall at its best and leaf peeping is your thing, you certainly won’t be disappointed when you reserve your campsite at Hickory Hollow Campground now through the end of October.  Fall is just….well, beautiful in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Home to some of the prettiest mountaintop views and lakes that offer beautiful reflections of the colors, Mother Nature has some real beauty in store for our campers in the next few weeks. 

If you love the beauty of Fall, but are looking for a little more adventure than just leaf peeping, Somerset County won’t disappoint I assure you.  There is a wide array of activities to take advantage of, including festivals and Halloween celebrations, pumpkin patches and corn mazes, craft fairs and haunted houses, and so much more for the family to enjoy.

Fall is all about pumpkins and apples, and color oh my…..so why not check out a few of the fun events taking place just a few miles from Hickory Hollow Campground in the next few week: 

  • September 25th – AppleFest,  11 am at the Kingwood Church of God Fellowship Center located just a few miles South of the campground on RT 281.  The ladies are prepared to serve some delicious apple fritters, apple dumplings and pies along with homemade ham and bean soup, haluski, and burgers.  Hop on the horse and wagon ride or kids can enjoy a ride on the barrel train.  There will also be a bouncy house, petting zoo, face painting and live auction starting at 3 pm. 
  • October 1-3 — Confluence Pumpkinfest, located about 20 miles S. on Rt 281.  The celebration includes craft and food vendors, pumpkin pie contest, the Great Pumpkin 5K walk/run, square dancing tractors, car show, pumpkin balloon bounce, a parade on Sunday afternoon, tough-man fire truck pull, live music, antique tractor show and so much more. 
  • October 2-3/9-10 Bedford Fall Foliage Days. Centered in historic downtown Bedford, the popular festival brings together 400 of the best local artists, crafters, concessions, and music vendors in the crisp mountain setting. 
  • October 9-10/16-17 Seven Springs Fall Craft Days.  The family fun at Fall Craft Days goes from 11-6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays and offers scenic chair rides, outdoor adventures including the Alpine Slide, 100+ crafters and artisans, and live performances. 
  • October 8-10 Fort Ligonier Days – Named one of the top 100 events in American, Fort Ligonier Days commemorates the Battle of Fort Ligonier during the French and Indian War of 1758.  The weekend will be host to a parade, craft show, concessions, fort tours and live demonstrations.
  •  Meadow Creek Farm Market, located on Laurel Run Road, is open daily from 11-6 pm. Savor the flavors of the season like pumpkins, gourds, fall décor, and veggies fresh from the farm. 
  • Cairns Pumpkin Patch/ Chads Corn Maze, Rt 711 S. Ligonier PA.  Walk around the 3.5 acre cornfield and try to find your way through the 1.5 miles of walking paths before you go and pick out that special pumpkin from the patch.
  • Friday and Saturday evenings September 24-October 31st – Haunted Hollow.  Celebrating their 25th year, Haunted Hollow is located just across the street from the campground and is home to the Bruner Boarding House, the Milford Asylum and Willie just waiting to scare the crap….I mean,  take you through the haunted hollow and this year’s best dream or nightmares! Get you tickets at  https://hauntedhollow.net/tickets/

I hope you are excited as I am, to smell autumn dancing in the breeze and the sweet chill of pumpkins and sunburnt leaves.  The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for this grand finale we call, Fall !

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Festivals Galore

Labor Day has come and gone, and with it the closing of the pool at Hickory Hollow Campground and many other places.  But no need to fret that summer is over yet, at least, because there are still plenty of great activities to take advantage of here in the Laurel Highlands.  The weekend after Labor Day in Somerset County is very popular with the locals and tourism crowds. This weekend is filled with some popular festival favorites that take you back in time – start with Mountain Craft Days going back to the 1700s pioneer era, make a stop and learn about the early 1900s farming era at the New Centerville Jubilee, and then top it off with a remembrance of 911 and that world changing event that happened 20 years ago.  After the pandemic caused the festivals to go on hiatus for a year, everyone is happy that the traditions will be continuing this summer. 

Located just a mile down the road from Hickory Hollow Campground is the ever-popular New Centerville Farmers and Threshermen’s Jubilee celebrating their 69th year on September 8th-12th at the festival crowds.  In rural America, the Threshermen were once the main focus around this time of year as the farmers worked tirelessly to bring the harvest in.  The labor-intensive work was done using steam power and by hand to fill the barns before winter.  These old traditions have been replaced with new modern farm equipment, but the Jubilee celebrates their legacy every year drawing crowds from all over the US.  New Centerville is one of just a few festivals in America that shows old-time steam engines, in motion, so if you have never experienced them before, come on out to the festival and see and hear these magnificent machines in action.  

People are always looking for something new, but at the Jubilee the focus remains on keeping the traditions that our farming forefathers used authentic year after year. There will be lots of antique equipment demonstrations, along with a quilt show, cement block making demonstrations, garden tractor pulls, horse pulls, truck pulls, photo contest, and a cider mill pressing apples for cider purchase.  You will be hungry after all that so venture over to the concession stand for some crowd favorites like delicious apple dumplings, homemade bean soup, barbeque chicken, and ice cream.   The Jubilee committee has been working hard to prepare for this weekends events and like they say, “There is nothing like the Jubilee.  It is a history lesson, but much more than that – after 69 years, it has become our history.”

Mountain Craft Days located at the Somerset Historical Center is another crowd favorite when it comes to end of summer festivals.  Started in 1970, Mountain Craft Days replicates a time dating back to the 1770s when European and American settlers came to the region and enjoyed a much simpler lifestyle. Take a walk back through time this weekend September 10-12 at Mountain Craft Days and learn the ways of the pioneers.  Artisans, craftspeople, and interpreters bring the traditional crafts, country food, music and children’s activities to life as you walk through the cool woodland setting.  Authentic log cabins are featured along with over 125 craft booths with demonstrators plying their trades using wood, iron, fabric, copper, glass, paper and other materials.  Learn the ways of the pioneers as you experience the not so easy tasks the Pioneers had to endure just to have the basics needed for everyday chores.   You can experience blacksmiths hammering hot iron, demonstrations of copper, flax spinning, butter churning, gingerbread making and so much more.  You will leave with a greater appreciation of the not so necessary items we have access to today, thanks to Amazon Prime.  Make a stop at the ham pot pie booth or pick up a few apple dumplings for the road.  Corn on the cob will be cooked over an open fire pit, funnel cakes, fried mush, haluski, kielbasa, chicken and waffles and a variety of other delicious Somerset County foods will be available to purchase so you won’t need to worry about getting back to the campground later and cooking. 

As the 20th year after 911 is remembered this week, another great spot to visit would be the 911 Memorial located outside of Shanksville, PA on RT 30 South toward Bedford.  The official service which will take place on Saturday is by invitation only, however, you can check out the service live on the 911 Memorial Facebook page.  If you get a chance to visit the 911 Memorial, stop across the highway and check out the newest exhibit that pays tribute to those who served in the Global War on Terrorism called Patriot Park.  Patriot Park is not part of the 911-Memorial but recently opened and includes a Field of Honor containing more than 7,000 American Flags to honor the life of every service member who died in the global war on terrorism. 

With everything going on in the world, a heart touching display entitled “Reflections of the Human Spirit; America’s County Responds to the Tragic Events of September 11th” will be on display at Laurel Arts, the local arts center located at 214 Harrison Avenue in Somerset.  This exhibit includes photography, art, documentaries, media archives and other artifacts related to the community’s response to September 11.  The exhibit is open from 11 am to 6 pm Monday – Thursday and 12 – 4pm on Saturdays now through September 30. 

While you are sitting around the campfire this weekend at Hickory Hollow Campground go ahead and reminisce a little about this precious gift we are given called life.  Every life has a purpose. Every generation brings something of value to the world.  George Orwell was said, “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” Hope you make some historic memories while camping this weekend!

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Slack off this weekend – it’s for your health!

Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer and the end of Hot Dog season but thankfully, not the end of camping season.   Hickory Hollow Campground continues to remain open for camping at our park for RVs, tents, and cabin rentals until the close of the season on October 31st.   Campers will join us this weekend in the rolling hills of Rockwood, PA and celebrate this hard-won example of how far we’ve come since the early days of the Industrial Revolution. 

There is much more to Labor Day than just a three-day weekend, which is perfect for camping I know, but let’s focus on some interesting facts surrounding this labor movement that dates back to about 1882.  Labor Day is a time to remember the work of those who fought hard for workers’ rights, and the essential role workers play in America’s growth and development.  No one is really sure who come up with the idea behind the first Labor Day in the United States but historians actually believe the credit goes to a machinist named Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union around 1880.  Others believe that a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, Peter McGuire, first proposed a day to celebrate workers around that same time period. 

Labor Day is celebrated because the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries brought a vast array of jobs and commerce to the United States.  What it didn’t bring was appropriate pay, safety regulations, or guidelines for the number of hours people should work each day and week.  During the Revolution, the average American worked 12-hour days, seven days a week.  People were starting to take note that children were doing hard labor in harsh working conditions for little pay and that the American people deserved fair pay, fair hours, and safe working conditions.

  • New York City hosted the first Labor Day parade on September 5, 1882 to show support for all union workers.  10,000 union workers took unpaid time off to march in the parade down 42nd Street. 
  • The tradition of “no white after Labor Day” came from jealous women, if you can imagine that.  As more new-money millionaires entered society after the end of the Civil War, the wealthy wives of the old-money crowd invented their own fashion rules that only the in-crowd would know, one being no white dresses after Labor Day. When someone showed up to an autumn party in a white dress, they outed them as a nouveau riche newbie, someone who acquired their money in this generation and did not have it passed down.  Fashion experts agree there really is no need to follow this rule today, thank goodness.  Maybe women can also stop asking “Do these white pants make my butt look big?” or maybe not. 
  • Pennsylvania’s work hard, but Oregon, followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York recognized the legal holiday in 1887.
  • President Grover Cleveland declared a national holiday in 1894, but only to stop the boycotts, riots, and sabotage that was taking over the country with an estimated $80 million in damages after the railway tried to reduce wages on about 4,000 factory employees. 
  • Going to an amusement park is literally the law on Labor Day in Virginia who passed the Kings Dominion Law that prohibits schools from starting before Labor Day.  Maybe the 325 free tickets that lawmakers were given between 2001 and 2013 may have helped keep the law on the books, you might want to ask the Amusement Park Lobbyist.  
  • Labor Day usually means those 7 billion hot dogs consumed from Memorial Day to Labor Day are replaced with Pumpkin Spice – in many forms.  Starbucks fueled this $500 million craze that started with $100 million in pumpkin latte sales in 2015. 
  • A three-day camping weekend may make you live longer.  An analysis was done of 600,000 Americans, European and Australian workers and the results found that people who work more than 55 hours per week had a 33% increased risk of stroke than people who worked less than 40 hours a week. 
  • Don’t let the rest and relaxation of Labor Day dull your nerves.  Statistics show that Labor Day is the third deadliest U.S. holiday for auto accidents. 
  • More than 160 million people make up the current United States labor force according to government statistics.  Unfortunately, there are about 9.3 million open positions that still need filled today in the US according to Trade Economics as of June 2021.   Maybe we can create another three-day camping weekend to celebrate the day those positions are filled. 

This Labor Day weekend, I hope you get a chance to camp at Hickory Hollow Campground, stay safe and remember these famous words;  “Nothing will work unless you do” and  “A man is not paid for having a head and hands, but for using them.”    Enjoy the last hurrah of summer!  

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Forecast for this weekend – “Wet and Wild”

With the weather heating up, it’s the perfect time to get outside and play!  What better way to play than splashing around and spending time frolicking in the water on a hot summer day.  Hickory Hollow Campground will be hosting their annual “Wet and Wild Water Fun” event this weekend and we invite you to join in on the fun Saturday afternoon. 

Water play is a great way to cool off during summer’s hottest days, but you may be surprised to learn that it also has many amazing benefits for both children and adults.  It doesn’t matter if you are 2 or 72, water play can engage a person’s sense of fun and delight, and offers a range of benefits for physical and social development.

  1. Water Play develops hand-eye coordination.  If you follow Hickory Hollow Campground and planned ahead for this fun weekend, you will have a good opportunity to improve your sense of accuracy and control.  Just grab that Nerf Super Soaker, Stream Machine Water Cannon, Shark Water Blaster or any other bucket or container add some water, find your target, point, aim, and shoot.  
  2. Water Play improves your speed.  No matter your age, you may find yourself speeding up as you pass by campsite 58 to avoid Big Dan blasting you with a stream of water from his hose. 
  3. Water Play introduces math and scientific concepts. Kevin and Anna Mack, our craft helpers and seasonal campers, will be happy to give the kids a crash course on just how far and how fast water can flow, both up and down hill, from a hose.
  4. Water Play improves your problem-solving skills.  Jump on owner Doug’s hayride and see what resolution you can come up with to avoid getting wet as he drives through the campground and the eagerly awaiting campers armed with water hoses and buckets of cold water. 
  5. Water Play helps you appreciate music.  It may not sound like DJ Poosa’s music, but the melody will be even sweeter when you hear the kids laughing and screaming as they run around the water playground enjoying themselves.       
  6. Water Play improves your climbing skills.  When the foam machine starts up, everyone will be climbing the mountains of white foam within minutes and won’t be able to stop laughing as the mountains get bigger and bigger.   Even Dan Green won’t know how to stop the flow.
  7. Water Play improves balance and strength.  When Activity Director Abby breaks out the water balloons, get ready for some fun improving those motor skills like bobbing, bending, and throwing.
  8. Water Play offers exploration and learning opportunities.  Kids are invited to make a Jelly Fish Puppet and learn all about this sea creature during the afternoon children’s craft.  
  9. Water Play enhances communication and social skills.  Social Media has nothing on a group of campers teaming up together and joining forces to soak some of their favorite campers. 
  10. Water Play releases energy.  Water play can be an excellent outlet for pent up energy whether you are a kid or adult.  We give you permission to join in on the fun and let off some steam this weekend no matter what your age.    

So this weekend’s forecast at Hickory Hollow Campground looks like a wet and wild one, prepare to get wet and proceed with caution, squirt guns may be loaded!

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Some Like It Hot!

Beans or No Beans will be the question this weekend when Hickory Hollow Campground hosts their 14th annual Chili Cook-Off contest on Saturday, August 21.  When your packing your groceries for the weekend camping trip, make sure to include some tomato sauce and chili powder so you can whip up your version of the best tasting chili and enter our Chili Cook-off.  The festivities take place under the pavilion at 5 pm with the campers judging their favorite chili and the winner being crowned this year’s “souper” cook. 

2020 Winners: 1st Andrea Riek, 2nd Abby Mack, 3rd Christa Wessel!

Chili cookoff contests have been popular since the first one was held at the Texas State Fair in 1952.  The original contest had 55 contestants with Mrs. F.G. Ventura of Dallas being crowned the winner with her amazingly simple chili recipe.  The cook-off was a brainstorm idea of author Joe E. Cooper who wanted to find a unique way to promote his new cookbook “Beans or No Beans.” Little did Joe know that his book would become the authority on chili history and lore, the book all other chili authors would refer to for the next 50+ years. 

Today, Chili is pretty much a stable in every household whether you are looking for a quick crockpot meal to prepare ahead of time or hosting a football party on the weekend for a crowd.  Chili recipes have developed over the last century and the variations are endless.  There is traditional Texas style chili, white chicken chili, three chilies chili, pumpkin chili, seafood chili, meatless chili, beans or no beans chili, and thousands of additional variations to try.  You will never run out of ideas to make an interesting new dish called chili.  But let’s take a look at how to make the perfect pot of traditional chili based on famous chili judges’ recommendations.     

First of all, pepper is very important.  Flecks of black pepper are frowned on, so serious cooks substitute white pepper for the “up front” bite.  “Up front” bite is the tingle from the pepper that you taste immediately; the “back bite” is the tingle that comes later, usually from cayenne.  Tomato sauce is the preferred base because you taste no offensive seeds or skin.  Canned beef or chicken stock is preferred in place of water for thinning the mixture to avoid the chlorine taste associated with tap water. 

Over the years, chili cooks have developed and improved the cooking techniques, with one of the most favored today being the “dump” method.  Spices are divided into several portions or “dumps” and then added to the pot at varying time intervals.   This process ensures flavorings like garlic don’t lose their potency by overcooking. Look for a chili powder that includes ingredients like: cumin, oregano, and garlic for the best bowl of red chili.  Cumin is the spice that gives chili its distinctive aroma, and red pepper or cayenne is what puts the back bite in the chili.  This is what grabs you a few seconds after taking that first bite.   

If you plan to enter the Hickory Hollow Chili Cookoff this weekend, here is a copy of Mrs. F. G. Ventura’s 1952 recipe to help you get started.  What spicy new flavor or spin will you be using when you whip up your next batch of chili? Will it have all the flavors of the first chili, or will you opt to try something new like owner Doug’s Shrimp Chili from last years contest….maybe NOT!

While you are tasting the variations of chili this weekend at the campground here is some fun trivia to share as well. 

  • U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson loved chili. Lady Bird Johnson had so many requests for her recipe that she had it printed on cards and mailed out.
  • William Gerard Tobin, former Texas Ranger, and advocate of Texas-type Mexican food negotiated with the US government to sell canned chili to the army and navy.
  • In 1977 chili was proclaimed the state food of Texas
  • In 1895 chili was sold from the back of a wagon for 5 cents a bowl and crackers were included for free. 
  • In 1921 the chili of Lyman T. Davis was canned and sold as “Wolf Brand Chili.” In 1924 oil was discovered on Mr. Davis property and he sold the chili business. The new owners used Model T Ford trucks with cabs shaped like chili cans and painted to resemble the Wolf Brand label.  A live wolf was caged in the back of each truck.  Today the company is owned by Stokley-Van Camp in Dallas, Texas. 
  • Texas prisons and the inmates used to rate jails on the quality of their chili, the one thing they missed most when leaving. 
  • Christopher Columbus discovered chili peppers when he discovered the Americas in 1493.
  • There are 140 varieties of chili peppers grown in Mexico alone. 
  • A teaspoon of red chili powder meets the recommended daily allowance for Vitamin A, needed for vision and bone growth and Vitamin C.
  • Chili peppers originated in Mexico, but today China is the world’s biggest producer of green chili peppers. 
  • Chili peppers have been part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC.
  • Chili peppers help you burn more calories by raising the body’s core temperature during digestion and send a trigger to the nervous system to produce more healthy fat.
  • The Japanese used to put chili peppers in their socks to keep their toes warm instead of eating them.

So when you’re making your chili this weekend, remember that just like that spicy chili, Hickory Hollow Campground offers the perfect blend of flavors and heat for your summer getaway, a taste you can’t forget.   

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Calling All Parrotheads!

“Everybody’s Talkin” about the benefits of outdoor camping and how much fun it is.  Whether you are the “Oldest Surfer on The Beach” or “Little Miss Magic,” camping is fun for all ages.   The seasonal campers at Hickory Hollow Campground say, “I have Found Me A Home,” at least from April til October at very affordable rates.  Maybe you are lucky enough to have reserved a beautiful campsite or rustic cabin at Hickory Hollow Campground, and if so, you probably have the RV packed and ready for a “Lovely Cruise” to Rockwood PA this weekend. “In the Shelter” of the beautiful Laurel Highlands hills and rolling meadows is the place to be when the “Natives are Restless” and you need to get away from the “Honey Do” list.

Go ahead and tell your boss you will be “Incommunicado” as you enjoy some much-needed time away from the office.  “Respect” is hard to find in the workplace because we all deal with a few too many “Fruitcakes” but you can be the “King of Somewhere Hot” when you load up the family and head to sunny Somerset County and the home of Hickory Hollow Campground.    I’m sure the family will be making a few “Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes,” as they prepare for a fun filled week and a much needed break from this “Carnival World”.   

Only “Time Will Tell” what lies ahead once you get to Hickory Hollow but we encourage you to check out the list of fun activities posted in the camp office as you start “Changing Channels” from work to play mode.  Abbie, our Activity Director will be “Knee Deep” in children’s activities so you can count your “Lucky Stars” that the kids will be in good hands and enjoying themselves. At “First Look” it may appear that “Everybody’s on the Phone” but by the end of the week “Everybody’s Talkin” about the great time they had. 

The owners of Hickory Hollow are proud to say “It’s my job” to keep the campsites easily accessible, the bathrooms clean, the pool clear and the traffic moving slowly through the grounds to ensure all our campers stay safe and enjoy their stay.   The rest of the crew will be picking up the “Slack Tide” and will never tell you “I don’t know, and I don’t care” so go ahead and ask them questions about all the cool stuff to do at the campground or around the local area.

Hickory Hollow doesn’t have a “Beach House on the Moon” but it has fresh air to help you “Breathe In, Breathe Out and Move on.”  A place where “Barefoot Children” can be seen running around enjoying dandelions “Blowin In the Wind” and little boys playing “Cowboy in The Jungle” as they run through the fields with their squirt guns.  A place where mom can get back to being “A Hula Girl at Heart” and dad can enjoy “Growing Up But Not Older.”

“Livin It Up” is easy at Hickory Hollow, so if you can’tgo to “Mexico” or “Meet Me in Memphis” than join us for some simply pleasures and try camping.  Camping is “Nothin But A Breeze” where kids won’t be “Spending Money” on a “Sunny Afternoon” because there are too many fun things to do at Hickory Hollow’s “Summerzcool”. 

Hickory Hollow Campground is sending out the “Coconut Telegraph” to invite you to our annual Jimmy Buffet Beach Party on Saturday, August 14.  We may not have the beaches of “Floridays”, but we do have “A lot to drink about” and a few “Parrotheads” who are looking forward to a “Party at The End of The World” this weekend.  Campers will ask “Where’s the Party” and are invited to join us across the road at Haunted Hollow Saturday, August 14 from 5 – 9 pm.  The concession stand will be serving up “Cheeseburgers in paradise” along with a few other tasty treats.  Local talent, Randy Meyers says “I Just Need My guitar” to entertain the folks on Saturday with my fun “Margaritaville” tunes and songs about this “Big Old Goofy World.”   A few people in the audience may be “Too drunk to Karaoke” but who cares, it’s a beach party and you “Have a license to chill.”  Whip up some refreshing “Boat Drinks” or “A Bottle of Rhum” and come enjoy the “Everlasting Moon” that seems to shine over Hickory Hollow at night as we get our “Island Fever” vibe going.

  

“Don’t You Know” when it closing time and the “Tiki Bar” closes down, remember “It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere” and they are still having one “Last Mango in Paris” and partying “Somewhere over China.” Hopefully our campers aren’t still pondering “If the Hokey Pokey is all It Really is about” and are ready to stop “Quietly making noise” when the clock strikes 11:00 pm, after all we are a family campground.

 “When the Coast is Clear” and the kids have gone to beddaddy may offer mommy another drink or two from the “Tin Cup Chalice” and start chanting let’s “Bring Back the Magic” or “My Lovely Lady?”

“Come Monday” after you had a chance to take in the beauty of the campground and enjoy all the cool activities that were available, meet some nice folks like “Frank and Lola” the family will “Wonder why we ever go home” because camping is so much fun at Hickory Hollow, oh the “Stories we could tell.”  

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Anywhere is within walking distance

Summertime is a great time of year and in Somerset County the climate is perfect for outdoor activities.  Campers are certainly enjoying the cooler evenings with night temperatures averaging between 50 and 60 degrees these last few weeks. It’s the perfect sleeping weather and not having to use the air conditioning is an added bonus.  Cool nights are perfect for campfires, and cooler days are perfect for outdoor activities like walking, riding around the campground in the golf cart or hiking. 

Hickory Hollow Campground has a fun activity on the schedule for this weekend that involves some easy “hiking/riding.” Join us for the annual “Golf Cart/Walking Poker Run” scheduled for Saturday, August 7 from 5- 8 pm.  Come to camp prepared with props and cool ideas to decorate your golf cart; this year’s theme is “Under the Sea.”  Campers will be judged on their unique creativity and are invited to parade with us through the campground from 5-6 pm showing off their water themed golf carts.  Then from 6-8 pm the “Poker Run” kicks off, and walkers and riders are encouraged to participate and gather playing cards from different locations throughout the grounds.   The winner is determined by the participant’s showing up at the end destination with cards in hand and the best “poker hand” winning. 

Some people call a nice quiet, hiking experience when the sun is beaming above your head on a beautiful summer day a win too!  But whether you are casually walking like you will be doing for the “Poker Run” on Saturday, or hitting one of the trails around the campground or local area, preparation is key for a safe and comfortable adventure.  Take a look at these essential tips you should be aware of before you head out for that summer hike/stroll/ bike ride or other outdoor activity.   

  1. Check the weather forecast.  Somerset County has some pretty unpredictable pop-up storms so stay in tune with the local weather apps before venturing out too far.  The weather will also help you make good choices for clothing, shoes, and other gear to take along.
  2. It is recommended to avoid long hikes during the hottest time of the day, usually around noon-3pm.  If you are planning to hike any distance, get an early start and plan to end by early afternoon when the sun and humidity is highest. 
  3.  Plan your hike in a way where you find yourself in the shade during the hottest hours.  Get a lay of the land and hike near trees, water, and in shady areas.  Dip your clothing or hat in some cool water and drape around your neck to help maintain your body freshness as water evaporates when you sweat. 
  4. Hydration is key! The amount of water you need depends on factors like temperature and humidity, your intensity level, body type, age, sweat rate and the duration of your hike.  Make sure you have ample water to get you through the hike and back home safely.    
  5. Protect yourself from sunburn & bug bites.  Sunscreen and insect repellant are essential, but also consider investing in some sun-protection clothing with long sleeves as another source of sun/bug defense. 
  6. Know the signs of heat exhaustion, the inability of your body to cope with the stress of heat.  Watch for symptoms like heavy sweating, fatigue, rapid breathing and faintness. 
  7. Wear the proper attire.  Clothes with quick drying properties allow adequate ventilation and prevent dampness and that uncomfortable feeling during your activity.  Wear thinner socks and avoid heavy base layers. Think about throwing an extra hat, pair of socks, handkerchief, and a pair of polarized sunglasses in your bag before heading out just in case. 

Hickory Hollow has a beautiful walking trail that takes you about ¼ of a mile around Lake Ann and ends up close to the pavilion and tent sites.  Just a note, bugs like the water as much as we do, so please remember to spray before you play and you will have a much more enjoyable walk.  If you’re looking for some great trails outside of the campground, see AllTrails.com https://www.alltrails.com/us/pennsylvania/rockwood for a list of some of the best trails in the local area.  The site provides curated trail maps, driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from nature lovers like yourself.  You will find some great local park options around Forbes State Forest, Ohiopyle State Park, Laurel Ridge State Park, Mount Davis, Roaring Run Natural Area, Kooser State Park and Laurel Hill State Park and the state game lands, all located within close proximity to Hickory Hollow Campground.  The trails range from 0.9 miles to 10 miles and from 2,306 to 2,959 feet above sea level.  The site offers you options for kid and pet friendly trails, to forest and nature trails, to safe running trails.

If you are looking for even more adventure, check out the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail which is a 70 mile trail that stretches along Laurel Mountain from the picturesque Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park to the Conemaugh Gorge near Johnstown.  This trail is probably the most used trail for seasoned backpackers who enjoy the challenge of steep, rugged areas of trails. Connector trails lead to and from trailheads and shelter areas and are marked with mile markers. With six trailheads, you will find overnight parking and trash receptacles if you are planning an extended hike.  A Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail map can be downloaded at http://www.dcnr.pa.gov/Pages/default.aspx website.  

It’s not hard to fall in love with Somerset Counties trails, from rivers to mountains, so check out the routes and get exploring.  Whether you are a hiker or a gambler, the distance between your dreams and reality lies ahead of you, in just one more adventure, so always take the scenic route.   

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Just Wing It This Weekend!

Hickory Hollow Campground will be cooking up wings this weekend as campers look forward to this tasty annual event.   We’re prepared to fry up about 1,000 wings for consumption, that’s about 100 pounds of the little wings that Americans can’t seem to get enough of.  Add some special buffalo or garlic parmesan sauce, and you have a tasty treat most people love.

I’ve been enlightening you over the summer on some cool facts about America’s favorite outdoor activity, camping.  We all know that there is nothing more American than apple pie, but I dare say, that chicken wings probably come in a very close second to the two favorites.  After all, chicken wings were born and breaded here in America.  Let’s take a look at how the delicious little wings took America by storm. 

The story of chicken wings dates back to 1964 when restaurant owner, Teressa Bellissimo of Buffalo, New York, received a shipment of chicken wings accidentally, instead of necks she used for stock.  Her teenage son and his friends were hungry one night so she decided to fry up this “blunder” instead of wasting the wings.  She tossed a little chili sauce over them and served them to the boys, who loved them.  Soon after, she added the wings to the menu at her restaurant, the Anchor Bar, located in Buffalo.  To take away some of the heat from the chili sauce, she served the wings with blue cheese and celery sticks and the “Buffalo Wings” became an instant hit. 

Teressa’s food salesman decided to work along with the Bellissimo’s and took the concept on the road selling the special “hot sauce’ and promoting chicken wings to other restaurants.  The concept hit the big time when McDonald’s began selling Mighty Wings at some of its restaurants in 1990.  KFC rolled out Hot Wings a year later, and even Domino’s Pizza offered a version in 1994. 

The rise of chicken wings all had to do with timing.  In the sixties and seventies, cooking the whole bird was trendy.  The family sitting down together for meals was still the norm, but in the eighties, consumers started to prefer boneless skinless chicken breast.  Because the wings were relatively less expensive, bar and restaurant owners realized the value of adding them to their menus.  By offering a chicken protein at a lower cost they increased sales, and by adding that special “hot sauce” they discovered that beer sales also started to take off. 

Sports bars with multiple TV’s, thanks to satellite dishes, started to become more common around this time, and of course we Americans’ love football so the two seemed to go hand in hand.   Wings were a great “group food”, easy to prepare, affordable, and shareable and paired perfectly with a pitcher of beer.    Today, chicken wing sales during Super Bowl Sunday averages about 1.33 billion wings according to the National Chicken Council. 

Let’s learn some fun facts about wings….

  • The average American eats 90 wings per year, except for Seattle folks, they don’t really like wings.
  • One chicken wing contains about 140 calories, without sauce. The meaty part is only 42 calories, eating the skin adds 30% more calories. 
  • Wings provide essential amino acids, iron and niacin and are easily digestible.
  • Most farmers feed their chickens vegetable derived feed which results in better brain health and inflammation prevention for us. 
  • The normal American can eat about 12 wings in one single sitting.
  • The world record for most chicken wings is 444 in 2015 by Patrick Bertoletti in just 26 minutes.
  • The South eats the most wings, but the North invented the “Buffalo sauce”
  • Ranch is more popular than Blue Cheese for dipping
  • Hooters sells an estimated 30 million pounds of wings each year
  • Buffalo NY holds a National Chicken Wing Day every year and draws about 80,000 people over Labor Day. 

So whether you are camping at Hickory Hollow Campground or watching a sporting event this weekend, chances are you, or someone in your family, is probably eating a dozen of chicken wings and enjoying a nice cold beer. 

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Weekend Forecast – 100% chance of wine, beer and spirits

2021 has certainly been a transition year for many amidst a slow return to pre-COVID life.  During the last months, people have found new ways to work, play, and socialize.  Consumers have become confident in their stay-at-home skills like home-bartending and entertaining and realize that this alternative to going out isn’t all that bad, but can be cheaper, safe and fun when you’re with family and close friends.

The Laurel Highlands region offers a safe, fun, environment to kick back and relax so we invite you to experience Hickory Hollow Campground located in Rockwood.  While visiting our area, we also invite you to share in the true treasures of the region, the wineries, breweries, and distilleries that can be found all around the area.   Many people do not realize how important alcohol and spirits were to the local Somerset County economy in post-Revolutionary days. We’ve all heard of the illicit “good old mountain dew” and stories revolving around the potent moonshine, but do you know how important whiskey was to the local economy in the late 1700’s?

Somerset County’s fertile fields were perfect for growing rye and wheat and produced abundant harvests, but transporting the grain out of the mountains to the market was another story.  Farmers soon realized that by converting their rye grain into whiskey they could distill 6 times the amount of dry product and transport it much easier.  In 1794 there were nearly 800 documented stills, better known as distilleries, in Southwestern Pa alone.  Whiskey was working out well for the farmers who relied on the income from the product, but then the government had to step in and place an excise tax on the whiskey.  Western Pennsylvanian’s felt unfairly discriminated against and demonstrated against the tax and the government instilling the “Great Whiskey Rebellion.   Local men, like Harmon Husband and General Robert Philson, carried out riots, demonstrations, and even tarred and feathered excise tax collectors during this rebellion.  Federal troops soon arrived in the Somerset County area and arrested many of the “businessmen/AKA moonshiners” sending them to prison and tried many for treason.  The Berlin Whiskey Rebellion Celebration, is a local celebration usually held in September, honoring the legacy of these great men, who in a sense, did their part to ensure we have the tasty spirits we enjoy today. 

Hickory Hollow Campground will be hosting one their favorite events on Saturday, July 24th.   The annual local beer, wine and spirits tasting will be held from 5-7 pm under the pavilion, This favorite adult activity has been popular over the years as campers are introduced to many local breweries, wineries, and distilleries found in and around the Laurel Highlands Region. 

This year, the owners of Hickory Hollow are working with the Sobel’s Obscure Brewery (S.O.B), a family owned and operated father/daughter duo who pride themselves on not only a great product, but a quirky brand of beer.  Located in the Jeannette area since 2017, the duo invites you to meet the “Gnomes” like Thimbleberry Sapsucker, a bohemian, yogi hipster who loves his IPA’s or Sneezeweed Brickcap, the brewery’s spokesnome.  S.O.B can be found at many local distributors, restaurants, and bars in 34 counties across Pennsylvania. 

Wine for the event will be featured from Stone Villa Wine Cellars located in Acme.  Randy and Debbie Paul took their favorite hobby, wine making, and turned it into something they could share with friends in 2020.  Keeping the tradition of Randy’s grandmother alive who was famous for her dandelion wine, the couple turned 150 acres of picturesque land located in the foothills of the Laurel Highlands into a beautiful, and tasty, venue for concerts and weddings.   Locals can be found on weekends sitting outside enjoying some music and the beautiful lakeview while enjoying a bottle of Chambourcin, a medium bodied, spicy with cherry notes and currant bouquet wine, or Stonegria, a crisp, fruity, and slightly citric wine that is perfect for a summer afternoon.   

  

America may remember the Whiskey Revolution, but cider is as diverse as wine or beer and was really America’s first and most traditional beverage.  This year, Hickory Hollow is excited to introduce you to Tattiebogle CiderWorks. The property nestled upon the Chestnut Ridge at an elevation of 1600 feet is perfect for growing juicy, delicious apples and crafts cider using only the finest juice from the no-spray, heirloom trees from their property in Acme.  The region’s only cidery, Tattiebogle just recently opened and serves as homage to the settlers of the Laurel Highlands who hailed from England, Ireland and Scotland. If you get the chance, try the Wee Geordie, a blend of hopped apple cider, Citra, and Chinook hops typically found in West Coast IPA’s, some call it the gateway cider for beer drinkers.  If you like sweet and tart, try the Ciara, a black currant apple cider enhanced with pear juice which makes it a “sweet drink” to enjoy while camping. 

Distilleries have come a long way since 1795, and with the recent changes in alcohol laws, people are enjoying the refined distillery experience that is becoming more popular in the local region.  For this year’s spirit tasting, Hickory Hollow is showcasing Kingfly Spirits located in Pittsburgh.  Kingfly Distillery transforms your drinking experience by using traditional recipes and adding a bit of innovation and discovery to the artisanal, small patch productions.  The Distillery allows customers to rediscover a zest for life when they sample the one of a kind, flavorful, aromatic, and complex product. Campers will be able to sample rum, gin, and bourbon including signature cocktails from Kingfly Spirits this weekend.  

Summer is the perfect time to visit some of Somerset County and the Laurel Highlands wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries so don’t hesitate to ask the camp office for some recommendations and directions. Hickory Hollow invites our campers to raise a glass and join in on the spirits tasting Saturday, July 24th.  Drinking alcohol can lead to a lot of laughter, crazy antics and fun times, so always remember to drink responsibly and enjoy in moderation. 

Ernest Hemingway once said, “I drink to make other people more interesting,” and “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”    

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Christmas In July

I’m not sure why, but the hot summer days of July usually inspire people to start thinking about Christmas.  Over the decades, we have all heard the saying “Christmas in July” and many people take it to heart with large celebrations.  Christmas in July has been popular since it’s origin in 1935 when Santa made an appearance at a girl’s summer camp in South Carolina.  The jolly old guy entertained the campers with Christmas songs, gift giving and filling camper laundry bags with candy.  Shortly after that in 1940, Hollywood popularized the concept with a movie comedy called Christmas in July.  This year, thanks to the pandemic and a scaled back version of Christmas 2020, kids and adults alike could use a bit of Christmas magic.  

Hickory Hollow Campground will be honoring the tradition of Christmas in July with some fun festivities on July 17 and 18th.  Campers are encouraged to decorate their camp sites with holiday décor, shop at the camp store for some seasonal bargains, and arrange special gift delivery from Santa and his elf. 

Pulling off a July Christmas party can be fun and easy when you put a summer spin on it.  The first thing to consider is how you will “deck the campsite.” Maybe your site is close to a small tree that can be decorated with fun summer items like flipflops, sunglasses, or Frisbee’s.  That small artificial tree just sitting in the spare room would also work decorated with some popcorn garland, painted seashells or glitter pinecones.   Lights are always great, so go ahead and string up some inside and outside the RV for that festive glow that is sure to get other campers in the spirit.  Decorated camp sites will be judged at 9pm on Saturday, July 17 at Hickory Hollow, so you have plenty of time to get the site festive and join in on the fun.  Let your campers decide how festive they want to get, but even the smallest decorations can add that little bit of magic to the weekend. 

Christmas is certainly more than the exchange of gifts but organizing a secret Santa gift exchange with some fellow campers, or prearranging a special surprise to be delivered from the campground Santa might be fun.  Prewrapped gifts can be dropped off at the office to be delivered during the afternoon on Saturday, July 17th when Santa will be riding his golf cart through the campground posing for photos and entertaining with the kids. 

Putting a Christmas spin on some outdoor games, like sack races or treasure hunts, could be a fun way to liven up a Christmas in July outdoor party.   Abby, Hickory Hollow’s Activity Director, has some organized crafts and fun activities planned for the children during the weekend, so please check out the schedule in the camp office when you arrive. 

An ugly Christmas sweater might not be the coolest idea for a hot July afternoon, but think about making a statement with a Christmas themed t-shirt or an ugly tropical shirt.  Holiday parties usually involve some shimmer and glitter, so ladies, go ahead and wear those rhinestone earrings or fancy tops with your jean shorts or keep it simple by just wearing red, white and green and adding a few accessories to show off your Christmas style.  A Santa hat, holiday socks, Christmas LED bulb necklace or sunglasses would certainly do the trick.   

We might be celebrating Christmas in July, but after spending time in the hot summer sun, you’ll want to cool off with some beverages.  If you’re trying to bribe Santa, eggnog might not be the best beverage to serve on a hot day, but a nice cold Miller Lite might do the trick.  Remember to keep lots of thirst-quenching non-alcoholic drinks on hand as well, to keep everyone hydrated on those hot summer days.  For a refreshing holiday twist, try adding some fresh berries, mint leaves, or cranberries to an ice cube tray and toss into drinks for a festive splash.  You can even put small sticks in them and give to the kids for small popsicle like treats.  Frozen hot chocolate is another cooler version of a winter favorite that is yummy for the kids and can easily be turned into an adult cocktail by adding a shot of liqueur to enjoy while sitting around the campfire.   Let the kids try a new smore activity around the campfire this weekend too; just put some marshmallows on a skewer and give them an icing pen to decorate them like snowmen.  Fun, and it keeps the dirty hands out of the marshmallow bag.  Try adding some food coloring to your popcorn and make it red and green for a festive treat or serving cut out gingerbread cookies decorated in a summer pattern to add a little fun to your camp snacks.  

    

If you are camping at Hickory Hollow this weekend, we encourage you to join in on the Christmas in July festivities. But whether you participate or not, remember the idea of Christmas is simple; loving others and sharing the gift of time and good cheer are the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas, no matter what time of year you celebrate. 

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“Cool” Camping on Hot Summer Days

It’s hot outside now, but families usually start thinking about camping in the winter months when they start to get the cold weather blues and can sometimes forget the importance of planning to stay “cool” in the hot summer months.  Summertime is the season when people take the RV out on the open road, but it can also be a time of extreme heat.  Today’s modern RV’s have excellent climate control systems but they can still get hot and stuffy as you travel during the hottest months of the year. 

When you hit the road this summer, keep these tips in mind to help keep your camping trip “cool” no matter how high the thermometer goes.

Camping in a RV can be “cool” when you travel to Hickory Hollow Campground located in Somerset County, PA.  Somerset County, typically sees an average July temperature of about 80 degrees making it a great destination for mid-summer camping.   Located in the heart of the Laurel Highlands, Hickory Hollow Campground accommodates today’s larger motorhomes with wide roads, tree lined drives, scenic mountain and wooded areas, and gentle breezes softly blowing off Lake Ann.

Motorhome drivers have the option at  Hickory Hollow Campground of using back-in or pull through sites which provide an opportunity to orient the RV so the sun shines on the side with the least number of windows keeping the RV a bit cooler on warm days. The shaded campsites are popular with our campers, but so is the large, clean swimming pool located just a short distance from the campsites.  In the heat of the summer, the pool can be a great source of cooling off, along with a refreshing cold drink.  If you forgot your sunscreen or drink, no problem, just visit the camp store and check out the large assortment of “camping necessities” available. 

Staying “cool” while camping takes some planning, so do your research and ensure that the campground you choose has the right amp to properly run your air conditioning unit and equipment.  Remember, it doesn’t matter how good your air conditioning is, it is only as good as the power on which it runs and you could easily burn out your unit if the amp isn’t correct.   Small fans can offer a littler support to your air conditioning unit and can be the perfect addition to use under that awning or at night in the RV.  By strategically placing a few fans within your RV, you can keep the air circulating and your campers cool. There are many portable and mountable fan options available, as well as battery powered fans so find one that meets your expectations.  Proper maintenance is also crucial to keeping air conditioning units running and it is important to perform regular cleaning and filter changes throughout the course of the summer.

    

Seasoned campers offer a little bit of advice and suggest purchasing a RV that has good quality windows and plenty of them that open wide.  When choosing your own site option is available, which is not always the case during peak season, aim to park the RV in a shady spot at the campground. Keep your shades lowered during the hottest points of the day, and open the windows to let fresh air in during the cooler evening hours.   Cover large picture windows with ultra violet protective shades or a reflective bubble product called Reflectix.  Remember to cover the skylight in your RV shower area also, as this typically is a large exposed area that invites the heat in.  Ensuring there is enough ventilation in the RV is also important if you want to stay cool in the heat of summer.  Ventilation allows you to pump the warm air out and bring the fresh air in, so make sure your vents are clean and free from blockage.   To help with ventilation, open the windows on the shady side of the RV and close them on the sunny side of the RV.  The use of awnings or tarps are another opportunity to provide some afternoon shade when you’re trying to stay cool outside the RV. 

As camping becomes more and more popular, new and exciting technologies are changing the way RV’s are powered and cooled.  Solar power is becoming a popular alternative for some seasonal campers at Hickory Hollow campground as well as the rest of the country.  Drive through a campground and you will see RV’s with solar panels on their roofs and maybe even the latest lithium ion batteries.  Hopefully someday, we will see many more self-contained RV’s that get all the electricity they need to run air conditioners, microwaves, and other devices using solar power, thus giving the environment a healthy boost.    

RV’s are great and offer the camper the convenience of taking their kitchen with them.  However, cooking indoors in a RV can create a lot of excess heat, so think about cooking outside on a camp stove, the grill, or using a Dutch oven over the campfire as a cooler option for some delicious meal alternatives. 

Staying cool in your RV this summer is possible – just remember these 4 points — locate-ventilate-insulate-coordinate.  And the most important thing to remember when camping in the summer, turn off the TV, shut down the computer, and get outside and enjoy all the wonderful amenities that the campground has to offer. 

Check out Hickory Hollow’s website or camp office for a list of activities for this weekend.   You won’t want to miss the Duck Race Memorial Fundraiser for Tika Hetrick and Cory Roadman on Saturday, July 10 at the pool at 10 am.  Ducks are $5 and all money will go to purchase a campground memorial for the couple.  

“When the weather is hot, keep a cool mind. When the weather is cold, keep a warm heart.” – Ajahn Brahm

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Make it a Red, White and Blue Kind of Weekend

Camping is a favorite tradition for America’s hard-working men and women and Hickory Hollow Campground invites you to spend the Fourth of July at our friendly campground located right in the middle of “America’s County”.  Summer is made for camping so why not take time to bask in the summer sun and celebrate the nation’s freedom.  It is estimated that approximately 20 million households are planning to camp during the upcoming fourth of July weekend according to the monthly research report put out by KOA.  Did you know that Pennsylvania is listed on the report as the third most popular state for July 4th camping, right behind California and New York? 

Hickory Hollow is kicking off the holiday weekend with some all-American favorite activities you won’t want to miss.  What’s more American than an outdoor Flea Market which will be held on Saturday, July 3 from 9-2 pm, or America’s favorite pastime, BINGO?  Our popular golf-cart/lawn chair BINGO will be held both Saturday and Sunday evenings from 6-7 around the Pavilion. Abbie, our Activity Director, has some great activities planned for the kids so stop in to the camp office and check out the schedule.  The Fourth of July wouldn’t be complete without some music and dancing so plan on joining DJ “D” Saturday night from 7-9 under the Pavilion and DJ Poosa on Sunday night.    

July 4th has been celebrated with festivities like fireworks, parades, barbecues, and family gatherings since 1776.  Just because you are away from home, and hopefully camping at Hickory Hollow Campground, doesn’t mean you can’t include a little red, white, and blue into your weekend.  If you are looking for some fireworks, the Somerset Jaycees and local sponsors invite you into Somerset on Friday, July 2nd for their wonderful explosive celebration with the fireworks set to start around 9:30 at the football field located at 645 Columbia Avenue.  If you’re planning to leave the campground and head over to Idlewild and Soak Zone in Ligonier on July 4th, they will end the day with a firework display also. 

Many times, campers will opt to have their own little sparkling celebration on the 4th by lighting up the summer evening with the crackling glow and trail of light from Sparklers.  Everyone seems to love this backyard tradition, but it’s important to take precautions and keep safety in mind when doing so.  Kids get excited when they start waving a sparkler around, but keep in mind these “little fireworks” made of chemicals and metal can reach very high temperatures causing burns to little hands and legs.  Please follow these tips for safe sparkler use while at home or the campground. 

  • Only use sparklers in open outdoor areas
  • Never hand a lighted sparkler to another person, give them an unlit sparkler and then light it in their hands and only one at a time.
  • Stand at least 6 feet apart from others when holding sparklers.
  • Be aware that sparks can ignite clothing, so avoid loose fitting clothes that could catch on fire.  Wearing closed toe shoes is best to prevent foot burns.
  • Always drop the used sparkler wire into a bucket of water to prevent burns and fires as the wires remain hot for a long time after the flame burns out.

Adopt the “sparkler safety cup” idea this summer which will help prevent those little hands from getting burned while playing with sparklers.  Take a plastic cup and poke a hole in the top which will allow the sparkler stick to be held from inside the cup thus preventing any close contact to the sparks. 

If fireworks aren’t on your itinerary, maybe a festive flick will do the trick as you relax quietly with the puppy in the RV.  Think about watching “Independence Day”, “Top Gun” “The Patriot” or “Captain America” to stay in the spirit of the holiday. 

Fireworks and sparklers certainly add a little color to our 4th celebrations, but so can your camp snacks and drinks.  For the adults who are into “firecracker cocktails,” just remember “If you drink a fifth on the fourth, you may not go fourth on the fifth”.  Here are a few easy, fun recipes that will have your campers bursting with excitement.   

Make this year memorable by counting your blessings and truly appreciating your freedom.  Hickory Hollow wishes everyone a happy fourth of July and God Bless America!

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It’s Not Where You go, It’s Who You Travel With That Counts

Oh June 20, the date many of us look forward to after a long snowy winter in Somerset County.  The day that summer officially begins, the hot sun starts to shine brightly and the pool water feels so refreshing.  The day when kids trade in their iPads for swim goggles and pool noodles and the dog breathes a sigh of relieve that he is no longer obligated to sit through another virtual learning session but can go outside and run and swim alongside the kids.  The day when mom and dad pull together the last details before setting off for their summer vacation. 

If you’re a camper, summer vacation usually includes a few weeks spent at Hickory Hollow Campground, the perfect vacation spot for kicking back and relaxing, swimming, hiking and enjoying the summer sunshine and often times a good shade tree.   This summer, when you’re planning those fun adventures, remember to include your furry friends too. The reasons to bring your pet along with you camping far outweighs leaving them behind.  Your dog is part of the family and if left at home, can sometimes be a source of distraction as your mind drifts back home wondering how “Lucky” is doing.  Pets can also keep your camping kids entertained as you catch an hour of quiet time under that shade tree or a few minutes catching up with old friends.  Dogs are great for helping to keep the campsite free from fallen hotdogs and graham crackers, and maybe that golden retriever even helps you gather a few fire sticks to start that campfire. You will be able to catch those beautiful sunrises a lot easier if your dog is camping with you, and probably guaranteed a kiss in the morning, or a late night snuggle to warm you up on those chilly evenings as well. 

Dogs and cats can be great companions, but unfortunately, not every dog will be a great camper so please consider the following when deciding if you should bring “Barkley” to camp or not.  Is your dog a yapper?  Remember no-one wants to be woken up by someone else’s barking dog when they are enjoying some down time.  Does your dog seem overly protective or aggressive around other dogs, kids or people?  Please remember that the campground is full of many little ones, new faces, sounds, and smells so if you have to muzzle your dog to ensure everyone’s safety, maybe leave “Killer” at home this time.  Hickory Hollow does have a leash requirement, but will your dog come back when called if he got off the leash? The mountains surrounding the campground are beautiful, but can be very vast and scary for “Bullet” the boxer who is trying hard to get away from unfamiliar activity.  We don’t want to have to call Somerset County Search and Rescue to locate our missing friends because of not preparing properly for the animal’s safety.  Dogs left unattended in a RV can be very troublesome for neighboring campers as well, with excessive barking and no one knowing if the pet is in danger or just voicing his dislike of being left alone. If your dog isn’t used to being left alone or crated, and you have a ton of activities scheduled that doesn’t include “Fido” perhaps a dog sitter would work better while you’re away from the campground. 

July 4th is right around the corner and dogs and fireworks don’t usually mix, so keep this in mind when camping over the holiday.  Noise phobia is a fairly common fear in dogs and unpredictable noises like fireworks, thunderstorms, loud laughter, and children screaming can truly frighten them as can bright displays of light from campfires and sparklers.  Firework displays around the local area are scheduled to be set off on July 2,3, and 4th from different venues but the sound may carry into the campground on either of those days.  Please also remember that locals have been known to set fireworks off at random times during the holiday week, so please have your pet secured at all times for his own safety.  Never pull a dog out or try to force him closer to the fireworks if they appear frightened and allow them to hide in their crate or under a bed for comfort.  Try to drown out the noise from the fireworks by turning up a radio, keeping your RV windows closed, and turning on a generator or air conditioner to help block out the sound.  Noise blocking earmuffs are also available for dogs to help combat the overabundance of noise especially around July 4th. 

Noise is not the only safety concern when camping with your pet.  For safety reasons, it’s best to never leave your pet unsupervised at the campsite.  Keep them away from hazards such as food which is too readily available on the picnic table for them to snatch, hot grills and hot food that they may pick up quickly, campfires and hot coals, lawnmowers, and golf carts.  A fenced in dog area, located behind the office, is available at the campground for your dog’s enjoyment to run off leash.  Please follow good dog etiquette and dispose properly of all dog waste promptly and be courteous of other dogs and owners while enjoying the enclosure.  Lake Ann is an attractive component of Hickory Hollow and dogs have been known to take a dip or two in the refreshing water or chase one of the geese.

When traveling with your pet, make sure you have a checklist of those essentials to bring along.  A non- breakable food and water dish, medications including flea and tick preventatives, a reflective leash for night walks, pet friendly bug repellant, tick removal tools, first aid kit, dog brush, and soft clean bedding for inside the RV or tent. Never leash a dog outside during the night, they may protect you, but who is going to protect them from the night critters.

Camping with your dog is a great way to get away from it all and bond with your best buddy.  Camping can introduce your dog to many activities that will keep them healthy and mentally stimulated while developing their social skills and build on the relationship you already share as best friends.  “The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.”  – M.K. Clinton

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Celebrate Dad at Hickory Hollow

Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20 usually brings nice weather and plenty of opportunities for family fun at Hickory Hollow Campground.  Whether you opt to spend some quality time just you and Dad or get the whole family involved, the campground has some great ways to spend Dad’s day.

Have you ever wondered about the history of Father’s Day and how it became declared as a national holiday?  Celebrations for Mother’s Day go back as far as 1860’s and this paved the way for Father’s Day which dates back to 1908 when a church in West Virginia held a sermon to honor 362 men who were killed the previous year in a coal mining explosion, most of them fathers and this became the country’s first ever event to strictly honor fathers. The following year a woman named Sonora Dodd, one of six children raised by her single father, started her quest to establish Father’s Day as a national holiday. States celebrated celebrations individually for fathers since around 1910, but in 1972 President Richard Nixon signed it into law and Father’s Day became a recognized holiday.  

Hickory Hollow has come to know many great fathers, uncles, brothers, grandpaps, and father figures who have camped with us over the years and we celebrate you!  Lots of great memories have been made while camping on Father’s Day weekend.  Some big fish — lunkers, monsters, giants, whoppers and a few tiddlers — have been caught, and many stacks of pancakes have been consumed, usually by the campers – not the fish. This year will be no different as we kick off the weekend with our annual fishing tournament on Saturday, June 19 at 9 am along the banks of Lake Ann. The lake has been stocked with some great fish and they are “jumping” to join in on the excitement of Father’s Day weekend.  On Sunday, June 20th treat Dad to the traditional “all you can eat” Pancake Breakfast when owner Doug starts flipping the delicious cakes at 8:30 am. 

 

Dads work hard all year, and even harder to get the campsite set up for everyone to enjoy, so if he wants to just kick back and relax over the weekend, Hickory Hollow Campground is the place to do it.  There are plenty of nice cozy relaxing spots for him to pull up a lawn chair or hammock and relax for a few hours with his refreshing drink, music or mystery novel.  If dad is more adventurous, take him down to the pool and play some water games as the temperature starts to rise. Hickory Hollow welcomes you to get creative with cool ways to chill out together while celebrating Father’s Day, so here are a couple of fun games you can try.  Start a beach ball blaster game in the grass and invite some kids or dads to join in, or hang some water balloons from a pole and try your hand at balloon pinatas.  How much fun would it be for the family to try their hand at batting practice – fill some small balloons with water, grab a foam bat and make Dad be the catcher – the family will be laughing hysterically every time Dad takes the impact from the hit and gets wet. Go ice excavating together – have Dad fill a bowl with small trinkets and water then freeze – the kids can try their hand at uncovering the treasures using small utensils trying to crack into the ice.  These activities can be so much fun for the entire family and Dad will be thrilled that there is very little expense and planning needed to carry them off.   

The fun is endless at Hickory Hollow Campground with so many organized activities and your endless imagination, but if Dad is looking for more adventure check out some of the local attractions and activities available this weekend. Somerset County’s Aero Club will be hosting their 71st annual Fly In event (8:30-3pm) complete with airplanes, car show and chicken BBQ (noon) Sunday June 20th. If Dad is a baseball fan, the Pittsburgh Pirates host the Cleveland Indians this weekend, and every Saturday night is race night at Jennerstown Speedway located about 20 miles from the campground with engines revving up at 6 pm.  Caddie Shack, located about 20 miles from the campground, is now open for the season and is home to a 50- acre adventure park that includes a grand prix track, bumper boats, miniature golf and arcade.     

If Dad is looking to explore, remember that June 20th is also known as National American Eagle Day, so venture out to the local state park or Somerset Lake and you have a good chance of seeing a bald eagle. If you are fortunate to see one of these incredible birds of prey, take note of their beauty, large size and the astonishing ability to soar at extreme heights.  These majestic birds symbolize many things such as freedom, courage, honesty, inspiration, victory and pride, many of the wonderful aspects that fathers have, so it’s fitting that we celebrate both of these wonderful species on June 20th.   

As you celebrate your father or his memory this weekend, remember “A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.” Hickory Hollow would love to see some fun photos of how you celebrated dad and his special day at the campground – so go ahead and post those special pics to our Facebook page.    

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Fly Your Camp Spirit

Hickory Hollow Campground wasn’t around when the United States American Flag resolution passed on June 14, 1777, or even in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day but we are as Patriotic as they come.  We thought it would be fun to test your knowledge of the American Flag as we recognize this special day.  Even though Flag Day is not a federal holiday, like Memorial Day and July 4th, it is still recognized in the states of PA and New York as a state holiday.   The observance originated in 1885, when a teacher from Wisconsin placed a flag in a bottle on his desk and asked the students to write about the significance of the flag.  Wouldn’t this be a great family exercise to try this weekend when you’re camping at Hickory Hollow or even in your home, to see if the kids really understand the importance of what the stars and stripes stand for? 

Go ahead and fly that American Flag proudly and show your patriotism while camping this weekend or any time you’re at Hickory Hollow. Here is a little bit of trivia to get you started with the discussion. 

  1. What time of day should the flag customarily be displayed?
  2. If you choose to keep the flag up 24 hours a day, what do you need to add to the display?
  3. What type of buildings should always have an American Flag flying above them?
  4. How should the flag be hoisted up and down? 
  5. What color is the stripes on the top and bottom of the flag? 
  6. Was the designer of the American Flag a high school student?
  7. Shipwreck Kelly, was famous for this flag craze started in Baltimore Maryland in 1929?
  8. Six American flags have been planted on the Moon by US Astronauts, how many are still there?
  9. What year was the fiftieth star added to the American Flag, and for what state?
  10. Which state became the first to honor Flag Day as a state holiday?   Answers at the end of blog
Young boy walking in the woods and holding an American Flag.

Flags can be fun, so whether you choose Old Glory or a fun personalized RV flag, there are endless possibilities to show off your individual style. There are lots of creative flags and spinners to uniquely display the message you want to proclaim to fellow campers.  Maybe it’s a happy garden flag that says “Welcome to our home away from home” or “Home is where we park it” displayed outside your RV.  Take a walk through the campground and you will often see “husband and wife camping partners for life”, or “making memories one campsite at a time” flags. If you’re a seasonal camper, warm up to your new summer neighbor by gifting a beautiful personalized travel trailer flag offered as a RV-warming gift. After all, camping friends often become friends for life…. oh this summer is going to be so much fun! 

Personalizing your own little corner of the woods can be so much fun…and flags make perfect gifts that are great for just about anyone.  If you’re looking for a fun Father’s Day gift – check out the cool options available in the local stores or the internet. What dad wouldn’t like a flag outside the RV that says “This is how we roll” or “Welcome to our campfire – where friends and marshmallows get toasted”, or “I go camping to burn off the crazy”.  If your family is new to camping and Dad is still learning the ropes “What happens at the campground gets laughed about all year long” would be a fun flag.  If you’re camping and catching up with some friends for the weekend make a statement with “Welcome to camp Chugabrewski” or “Camp Wanabetipsee”, but remember Hickory Hollow is a family campground so please use good judgement.  The grandparents would get a kick out of receiving a flag stating “Camping grandparents – like normal grandparents only much cooler” or “Camping – is our retirement plan”.

Seasonal flags are great for targeting specific seasons, holidays or themes. They usually hang from a small metal frame and measure about 13” x 18”, and are a popular addition to many homes and campsites.  If you want to make a big impact with your theme, go for the larger house flags that measure approximately 28” x 40” and hang it proudly from a pole attached to your campsite.   Windsock spinners are pretty fun and are usually made from weather and fade resistant fabric that become animated in the wind, they are easy to hang and create a fun atmosphere around the campsite also.  Hickory Hollow certainly won’t be upset if we see flags with “Happy Camper” flying around the grounds, so go ahead and get creative and let’s see how each of your unique personalities shine this summer at the campground.  Share a picture of your campsite flag with us on Facebook…and let your uniqueness fly proudly this summer!

Flag Answer Key:  1: sunrise to sunset  2: a light shining on it 3: government offices 4: briskly  5: 7 red alternating with 6 white stripes   6: Robert G. Heft was 17 years old when he designed the flag  7: climbed his 1st flagpole at age 7, then set the world record in 1930 sitting on top of the Steel Pier in Atlantic City for 49 days  8:  five  9: July 4th, 1960 the 50th star was added for Hawaii- the 50th state  10;  Pennsylvania

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Cooking in the Great Outdoors

Hickory Hollow Campground makes camping easy, but it takes a bit more planning if you are going to be cooking in the great outdoors.  Cooking over an open fire is great but can be an entire adventure in itself, but one definitely worth the effort. With the proper planning and prepping, a scrumptious meal can be easy, and enjoyable for everyone.  It’s important to remember the best food for camping is non-perishable, sturdy enough not to get squished in the cooler, nutritious, and filling. 

Unlike your kitchen, the open fire doesn’t come equipped with a 350 degree oven and a timer set for 30 minutes.  Instead, this form of cooking requires gauging and controlling the level of heat for the best results.  Prepping is key, the less chopping and mixing that needs to happen at the camp site the better.  This will present less opportunities for cross contamination or foodborne illness, and definitely less mess to clean up.  Heavy duty aluminum foil can be a camper’s best friend when cooking over the open coals, so make sure you’re stocked well. If not, check out the camp store for a wide range of non-perishable camping necessities.   

Outdoor cooking can be experienced in many different ways, you can make it quick and simple or plan it as a family event for the day.  Most people agree, no matter how you cook it, the food cooked at camp always taste delicious. With so many methods to choose from, maybe you want to try and experiment with a few different methods to see what kind of fun creations you can come up with.  Everyone’s familiar with the propane grill, but have you tried using charcoal lately, or a wood fire? You can’t go wrong with the purchase of a Dutch-oven, long handled cast iron pie maker or extendable skewers. If you’re on a budget, teach the kids a new trick and try foil cooking or the tin can method for a tasty layered meal. Get creative with your cooking, try various seasonings and BBQ sauces, and don’t be afraid to experiment with something new. Use the pie iron to make tasty tacos. Just spray the iron and fill with small tortillas then add 2 tablespoons each of prepared taco meat, refried beans and shredded Monterey jack or cheddar cheese. Add jalapeno peppers for a little zest, then trim off any excess tortilla with a knife after closing the iron, cook over the open fire and voila, Mexican made easy.  Try it with fish for a healthier fish taco alternative.   For a breakfast alternative try making some French toast in that pie iron also.  Just dip bread in egg batter and cinnamon then spray the pie iron with nonstick cooking spray and heat over the coals left over from the late night campfire. So easy but so delicious.  Check out the recipe attached for easy campfire doughnuts, something else you may never have tried but worth attempting. 

Taste of Home recommends foil packet meals as one of the best camping hacks because they taste amazing and cleanup is a snap.  Individual meal packets can be prepared at home prior to camping and stored in the cooler until ready to cook.  One of my favorites is grilled sausage with potatoes and green beans, try it using the recipe from allrecipes.com

Use your grill and an old muffin tin to make simple poached eggs. Coat the muffin tins with cooking spray and crack an egg into each hole. Place on the grill and grill over medium high heat for 2 minutes or until desired doneness.  Try adding some chopped peppers and onions to spice them up a bit.

Treat the kids to banana splits before bed in place of the traditional s’mores.  Cut a whole unpeeled banana halfway through from end to end. Place marshmallows and pieces of chocolate bar in the slit. Wrap banana in the foil with the cut end up. Place in coals for 10 to 15 minutes until chocolate and marshmallows are melted.  Open foil carefully and scoop from the banana peel the delicious treat.  For an even faster dessert try Skillet Bananas.  All you need to do is melt some butter in a skillet, add some frozen orange juice concentrate, and some cinnamon and stir to mix. Slice some bananas into the warm sauce and toss gently.  Yummy!!

I’m sure you have roasted a marshmallow, but have your tried roasting an apple over the fire? Place an apple on a cooking stick and roast over hot campfire coals until the apple peel splits and ‘sizzles’. Carefully peel away the skin (adults should help kids with this) and roll the apple in cinnamon-sugar for a tasty alternative.  Instead of the traditional graham cracker and chocolate bar s’mores, be a little creative and try fudge-stripped cookies with a marshmallow in between. Or how about using peanut butter cups in place of the Hershey chocolate bar layered between chocolate graham crackers instead of the plain ones.  

Outdoor cooking can really be a fun adventure for the entire family but with the right equipment, it can be so much easier.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you need a bunch of fancy gadgets to cook delicious treats while camping, but Shekitchen.com recommends starting your camping journey off with one or more of these handy essentials. Campfire tripod and Dutch Oven and lid lifter, cast iron skillet or loaf pan, pie iron, campsite popcorn popper, portable grill, and extendable skewers, and of course a good cooler  —  packed correctly.     

How to pack a cooler to keep food fresh longer according to allrecipes.com* 

  • Chill all food and drinks before packing them.
  • Seal food in waterproof container to keep it dry and uncrushed.
  • Pack food in layers, with ice between the layers
  • Keep the cooler as full as possible.
  • If possible, have a separate cooler for drinks so the cooler doesn’t lose its cool every time someone opens it to get a drink.
  • Keep the cooler in the shadiest spot you can find.
  • Don’t drain melted ice water – it actually helps keep food cool longer.

Hickory Hollow Campground doesn’t care what your preferred camping cooking method may be, but we would love it if your shared some of your favorite camp recipes with us on our Facebook page. 

Julia Child once said “the comforts of life’s essentials are food, fire, and friendships”. 

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The Mountains Are Calling

Hickory Hollow Campground

Family camping takes a little bit of effort, but the payoff is huge.  Family camping at Hickory Hollow Campground allows you to come face-to-face with nature while offering a dynamic, ever-changing canvas for campers of all ages to explore and create memories for years to come. Over the last year, we have all experienced far too much screen time, whether you were participating in zoom meetings for work, online virtual school or just trying to stay connected through social media, you are probably ready to get in touch with nature and enjoy a digital sabbatical. You may not realize how scarce fresh air has been in your day to day life recently, but let me assure you, Hickory Hollow has enough to go around and last all summer long. 

Along with fresh air, Hickory Hollow also has a fresh new face working with us this summer.  We are proud to welcome Abbie Mack, a familiar face at the campground, as the new Activity Director.  Abbie is the daughter of seasonal campers, Kevin and Anna Mack and is looking forward to assisting with the children’s activities, crafts, and the many events being held this summer.  A certified lifeguard, Abbie is looking to creatively keep the kids engaged with some cool new activities while enhancing some of the traditional favorites for all ages. 

Memorial Day weekend kicks off with a corn-toss tournament, and the much-anticipated chain saw demonstration by Bill Schaudt Wood Creations. If you are looking for sasquatch, a friendly little black bear, eagle or even a gnome don’t miss this really cool demonstration from one of the industries best carvers.  After the demo, go ahead and fire up the grill and get those BBQ aromas filling the grounds, then get ready to try your luck with golf-cart/lawn chair bingo, a favorite from last year.  This Memorial Day, as we remember the fallen hero’s and those who fight for our freedom, remember “it takes the best in each one of us to make a better world for all of us.”

Hickory Hollow knows the importance of building strong relationships and that’s why we offer fun activities that the entire family can participate in.  Studies show that outdoor experiences make children more environmentally conscious, help them manage stress, and reduce restlessness and boredom. Spend some time exploring the beautiful mountains and lake surrounding the 75-acre campground as a family, or visit one of the many local attractions to learn more about the beautiful Laurel Highlands. Just imagine the look on your child’s face when they reel in their very first rainbow trout caught proudly on Lake Ann. Or see the gleam in their eyes when they come back to camp with some beautiful photos taken while participating in the nature scavenger hunt being held on June 12. This is a great opportunity to study bugs, learn to identify trees and flowers, sing a song while hiking, identify animal prints, and just enjoy all nature has to offer together.  Family members can all join in on the fun under the pavilion for DJ dance nights and compare your era of dance to the new generation.  DJ Poosa will be happy to play all genres of music so maybe we can get a dance off going this year.  Grandma can show us her mambo, dad his cool funk moves, and the teens the newest Tik Tok move.

One of the best and most relaxing camping activities is stargazing.  At Hickory Hollow we have the perfect environment to settle in and explore the night skies.  A clear sky, blanket, and a nice warm fire is all you need to enjoy this camp favorite.  If you are into astronomy and the celestial stars you might want to check out one of our local wineries called Vin De Matrix, located about 10 miles from the campground and inspired by the star Vindemiatrix, the third brightest star in the Virgo constellation.  The rustic tasting room is filled with some amazing photographs of the night sky along with some beautiful pottery, jewelry and prints from local artists. Schedule your individualized tasting during the week or you can pick up a bottle of their local wine Saturday mornings at the local Farmers Market located at Georgian Place in Somerset to bring back for your star gazing activity.  

When a family makes memories together, it’s an experience they will never forget. From a day or week spent exploring everything the campground and the local area has to offer, to an evening roasting s’mores around the campfire, these memories will last forever.  Hickory Hollow makes this activity easy too, just swing over to the camp store and pick up a ready made s’more kit along with any other essentials you may have forgotten.  While visiting the store, check out the new shipment of t-shirts that have just arrived.  Maybe you want to purchase one for Santa to deliver when he makes his annual visit to the campground in July. 

There are endless opportunities to reconnect with loved ones while camping, so whether you’re fishing, hiking, or teaching the kids a new skill like cooking over an open fire, adventure awaits you at Hickory Hollow Campground.  Abbie, and the entire Hickory Hollow staff are looking forward to s’more fun with you this summer!

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Millennials Choose Camping

Seasoned campers joke that stress can be caused by not camping enough.  Camping is in their blood, they look forward to the day Hickory Hollow Campground opens and scowl when the campground closes just after Halloween.  These camping enthusiasts understand the importance of being close to nature.  Their stress levels are reduced, they have better overall emotional and physical health, and at the end of the season have many new friends to help get them through the long winter months. 

Generations have always been defined by specific stereotypes and characteristics that make them unique and wonderful in their own way and at Hickory Hollow we see a wide variety of age groups camping with us.  Camping statistics are showing that Millennials, an interesting collection of about 80 million people born between 1980 and the late 1990’s are the newest group of people taking an interest in camping.  These adventurous, wonderful young adults love experiences, they are inquisitive, sharp, sensitive, passionate and curious.  Many are starting new businesses and raising young children.

A recent KOA camping report shows that approximately 6 in 10 Millennial families have tried a camping experience since 2017.  This new generation of active explorers are taking camping in new directions and revolutionizing the camping world.   

Many Hickory Hollow campers like to disconnect from the outside world, kick back, relax and enjoy the peaceful serenity of the night skies and the beautiful Laurel Highlands.  Statistics show that millennials are changing the camping thought process of disconnecting and find comfort in the fact that they can stay connected while enjoying their time away.  At Hickory Hollow we know the importance of being connected to loved ones back home while on the road and we do offer Wi-Fi and Cable TV, as well as an ATM machine on site. Currently, we are investigating new technology options and look forward to enhancements in our current system in the near future.

The staff at Hickory Hollow are always safety conscious and we understand the importance of staying in touch while on the road.  We love it when our campers share their fun adventures at Hickory Hollow with their friends back home through social media.  You can follow all the fun events throughout the camping season, like our first Kentucky Derby Party that kicked off the season on May 1st, on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Remember to log onto our website for a list of all the cool activities scheduled, as well as our blog.     

The Millennials may be revolutionizing the camping world, but their habits begin to transform into preferences held by older campers as well.  Technology certainly makes booking your RV site, rustic or premium log cabin much easier, but please remember that sites book very quickly so make your reservations now for the summer months.  A quick click of the button at www.hickoryhollowcampground.com and we can have that favorite site or cabin reserved for you in no time.

Glamping, a phenomenon defined as a fusion of glamour and camping introduced by the Millennial, generation about 15 years ago.   Hickory Hollow Campground offers our own unique version of glamping with the “Conestoga Wagon” rustic camping experience.  All the fun of tent camping without the bugs and water leaks!

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Camping Is The Answer -The Question Isn’t Important

One of the best things about early mornings during the month of May, is that it starts to smell like a camp morning. Each morning you wake to a new spring growing louder and louder, the mornings are full of light, the birds are singing, color is popping up everywhere, you have a head full of dreams and a heart full of hope, and beyond the door the sun beckons you to come out and play.  As we kick off a beautiful new spring, listen to your heart and let the road lead you straight to Hickory Hollow Campground.

Hickory Hollow Campground officially opened on April 15th and that means taking the RV out of hibernation.  If you took the proper steps to winterize the RV, it should be ready to go with minimal preparation.

RV Spring Cleaning Checklist

Follow this handy checklist to ensure your RV is as ready as you are and won’t let you down.  

  • Check the unit for any damage – tree limbs that fell, or rodents that may have enjoyed the warmth over the winter, etc.
  • Check the outside components for cracked side vents, missing light covers, baggage door operation, turn signals etc.
  • Check to make sure the license plate, insurance and registration is current.
  • Check the tires for proper air pressure and cracks in the sidewalls. Don’t forget the spare.
  • Make sure the carbon monoxide detector, smoke alarm, LP detector, and fire extinguishers are all in working order. 
  • Make sure the water level in the battery is correct and terminals are tight.
  • Flush and fill the freshwater tank to check for leaks.
  • Clean the air conditioning filter
  • Give the inside a thorough cleaning and evict any unwanted visitors like bugs and mice.
  • Make sure you have an up-to-date fully supplied first aid kit.
  • Air it out and make sure all windows and vents are in working order.
  • Restock with fresh towels and linens that may have been removed last winter.

Okay, the family is ready to start their fun camping adventure in southwestern PA after being cooped up with a mask on all winter. You have reviewed the spring checklist and the RV is ready to go straight to the beautiful Laurel Highlands to breathe some of that fresh mountain air as well, so what’s the next step to enjoy all the wonderful amenities camping offers? 

To enjoy the great outdoors…the way you like it, just go straight to the Hickory Hollow Campground website https://hickoryhollowcampground.com, take five minutes and make those reservations for the summer.   With 75 acres of beautiful rolling hills, a lake, and many wooded areas, Hickory Hollow Campground offers the serenity you are looking for. RV sites are pull-through with water, electric, sewer, Wi-Fi and cable TV.  New or first-time campers may enjoy renting one of the beautiful premium or rustic log cabins available overlooking the lake, while seasoned tent campers keep coming back to enjoy the shaded sites and hammocks overlooking the entire campground.  

The Laurel Highlands, a beautiful summer destination, is easily accessible and offers numerous adventures and experiences for the entire family. Your itinerary will easily fill up with unique and thrilling activities for everyone in the family.  Activities in the Laurel Highlands range from water parks and petting zoos for the toddlers; cave exploring and escape rooms for the teens; thrill seekers can check out the oval track on a Saturday night, axe throwing or whitewater rafting; and for those inclined to relax, don’t miss the local farmers market, live music and spirit sampling; we have history buffs covered too with the 911 memorial, museums, and so much more.  Visit https://www.golaurelhighlands.com for experiences available in the area.

So, the next time you are in a ZOOM virtual meeting, looking like you are listening…but really thinking about how much better life is when you’re camping, remember what Albert Einstein said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” The campfire, the stars, and Hickory Hollow is calling out to you for some much-needed outdoor therapy!  We are looking forward to seeing you this summer.

Self Care While Social Distancing

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I know, I know it sounds ridiculous in the current situation, but there is one thing that is extremely important during this time (and at all times for that matter) and that is SELF CARE! Your mind, body, and emotions should be your number 1 priority and honestly what better time to focus on yourself than during a stay at home order?

These are such trying times and everyone (literally everyone) is having to deal with the changes and uncertainty that goes along with it. Every person that I have talked to during the last few weeks has been dealing with anxiety, depression, loneliness, and so many other concerns that threaten our self preservation. The best way to prevent these issues from taking over our lives is by practicing self care DAILY (yes, these are things you need to take the time to do every single day.) I’m going to go into a few different areas of self-care that I feel are important for every person to do.

Body
Our bodies need taken care of during this time, that’s no lie to any of us. I’m sure some of you are feeling sluggish and exhausted from being stuck at home and limiting your activities (trust me I am too), but there are solutions to taking care of our bodies from the comfort of our homes (or RVs). The most important task are really just the basics that every person needs in order to live. Make sure you are eating, drinking water, and moving your body. These don’t have to be daunting tasks like they may have been before. You can make them specific to what you enjoy. When it comes to food, I know it’s tempting to eat all of those quarantine snacks (I am bad for this) but usually it is solely out of boredom, which I am sure is the case for a lot of you too. So in order to change this action to something that keeps you busy. Read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk (safely social distancing of course), play a game, color, draw, seriously I could go on and on with different activities to help you. So put that junk food down and go do something else! -If you want ideas for social distancing outside, go read my last blog Social Distancing in the Great Outdoors.
The next thing our bodies need is water. I am so bad about drinking enough water, especially while being at home, but our bodies NEED it! I know most of us our using our phones regularly, so here’s a challenge for you: every time you pick up your phone to check social media or answer a text or anything really, take a drink of water. This will make you feel so much better in the long run and your body will thank you.
Along with drinking water, we need to make sure we are moving our bodies. It’s so easy to get into a slump sitting on our couches, binge watching the latest Netflix series (I bet Tiger King came into you mind, don’t be ashamed I watched it too), but this isn’t good for your body, mind, or emotions. It’s okay to watch it on occasion, but maybe get moving while watching and eventually you’ll find more reasons to move your body. I personally love doing yoga (and plan to incorporate some into my activities this camping season) and I found that it helps me relax. It also makes my body feel great. I mentioned a few activities that go along with this idea earlier, but it is so important. Trust me, if you make sure you are eating better, drinking enough water, and moving your body, you will feel so much better!

Mind
Personally, I feel like this is one of the hardest parts to work on during this time. There is an abundance of information being put out there for people, some of it being helpful, but a lot of the information is causing a lot of stress, anger, and frustration. I, personally, try to avoid the news and social media that is revolving around the current situation. This does not mean that I am not informed or aware of the changes occurring, it means that I am limiting and researching the information that I am taking in. I wish more people would do this, but that is hard to control. So instead of trying to control it, I am offering some advice on how to go about it. Be careful of the sources you are getting your information from. Limit how much you are reading that is related to the situation. Make sure you are getting a variety of sources to compare and do your research! The reason I try to avoid social media during this time is because this is a HUGE concern. You cannot believe everything you see on the internet (or on tv for that matter) and the ability to share false information has gotten out of hand. There are fake news sites that are being shared and information that people claim as facts that may not be the case at all. All I ask is that you do your research first before believing (or reposting) anything you see on social media. Make sure your sources are legitimate and beneficial. The hearsay on socials is a major cause of stress and anxiety.
Along with these tips, your mind needs taken care of in other ways too! A way to help this is to give yourself a schedule. Times are hard right now and we find ourselves diving deeper and deeper into our electronics, the news, and tv right now, so break those habits. Make your life feel somewhat normal again and make a schedule. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or go into detail with every single thing you should do in the day, but a basic schedule will help you (and your family) survive the stir craze that I am sure is consuming your lives. One thing I will suggest to add to your schedule is that you cut out any type of technology (or just cut out your research/social media intake) before you go to bed. This is easily something that can help improve your sleep in general, which who doesn’t like getting a good night’s rest?
Another suggestion for improving your mental state is making sure that you are connecting with others. There are so many ways to go about this with technology and it is so beneficial for everyone. We are in a state of isolation and so are others. Take this time to reach out and check on the people you care about, it not only helps you but will help them feel better too. Be intentional, and reach out to others. Even if it’s just to see how someone else is doing, I’m sure it will make both of you feel so much better and not so isolated during this time.

Emotions
I know it seems like emotions should go hand in hand with mind, but I feel like our emotions are something we need to focus on specifically at times and can also be one of the hardest things to control (especially right now). One thing that everyone should be aware of is that we may not be able to control the current situation, but it WILL get better. Find some positive aspects of the current situation. Change is inevitable in any situation, it is a part of life, which we are all aware of (even if we don’t like the idea of it.) Look at the bigger picture of the stressful situation and remind yourself of the good that is happening. People are working together and being more helpful. You’re able to spend more time with your family at home having family dinners, playing games, and making memories that you may not have had time to do before.
During all of this, make sure you are paying attention to your needs and feelings. Everyone has them and is entitled to them. You’re allowed to feel what you want during this time, but that doesn’t mean to push it onto others either. It’s okay to get your feelings out, but you should be considerate of other people’s feelings as well. A good way to get your feelings and emotions out is by writing them down. I try to journal regularly to get thoughts out of my head. That way I am not dwelling on them and I can move on to other thoughts. Use this opportunity to discover yourself. Self-discovery is important. You may learn things about yourself that you didn’t know before and you can try things that you haven’t had a chance to (within reason of course.) So why not listen to your emotions and thoughts in order to find out things about yourself. This can be liberating and help you grow as an individual in so many ways.

We take self-care for granted and it is so important to make sure we are happy and healthy in every way possible right now. That means taking time for you and making sure that your needs are met.