For the avid camper or for those who are just getting acquainted with the camping experience, there are a variety of options for holiday gift-giving.

A great family gift would be a national park pass. America’s park system has some excellent camping locations. The America the Beautiful-National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is honored at most National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recreational sites that charge a day-use fee. There are passes per vehicle and passes per person, senior passes and passes for those with disabilities. Anyone under 15 is admitted free, and volunteers who have accumulated 500 service hours also get a special rate. For information on pricing and how to obtain a national park pass, visit www.nps.gov.

In addition to basic camping items, such as a propane stove, air mattress, Swiss army knife, collapsible chairs, lanterns or portable grill, there are some new items on the market that can make the camping experience less primitive.

Even out in the wilderness kids can have fun making their own ice cream. The Play & Freeze Ice Cream Maker is a plastic ball with two lid-covered openings. Open one lid and fill with ice and rock salt; open the other lid and add cream, sugar and flavoring into the metal cylinder. With both lids sealed, toss, shake or roll the ball for approximately 10 minutes (15 for the mega ball) to mix the ingredients. Drain the salty water and refill with more ice and salt and play for another 10 minutes. Remove the cylinder lid and enjoy fresh, homemade ice cream.

To go with that homemade ice cream, how about a hot-out-of-the-oven cookie? There are now several different models of portable ovens that can be used with a propane stove. The 6000 BTU Coleman InstaStart portable oven can accommodate 13″ x 9″ baking pans, has adjustable racks, a built-in temperature gauge and a glass door window for easy monitoring. One 16.4 oz. propane cylinder lasts up to 3.5 hours with the burner on high.

For a modern twist on a traditional experience, the battery-operated marshmallow toaster will create new memories. The three revolving prongs evenly toast three marshmallows simultaneously. The stainless steel toaster has a sure-grip ergonomic handle and requires four AA batteries (not included).

Cast iron cookware heats evenly and consistently, making it a good choice for camping. Most campers already enjoy the benefits of cast iron, but you may want to add a piece to their cast iron collection. Consider a griddle, Dutch oven, fajita maker, pie cooker or a small kettle. Most items are available preseasoned or unseasoned.

An item campers will always appreciate is a mesh tent to cover their food. There are a variety of styles and sizes on the market. One functional tent measures 13″ x 13″ x 6″ when open and folds to 1″ x 1″ x 13″.

Camping gifts are available in all price ranges and for all ages. You’re sure to find the perfect fit.


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