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.”    

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. 

“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

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!

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

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.    

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

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”. 

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!

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!