Quick and Easy Dutch Oven Cookies

I usually mix up a batch of cookie dough to bake in our Dutch oven when we go camping, but on a whim I threw in a package of cookie mix for our last camping trip and it was a hit!

Case of Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (12 total)

Using the mix the cookies were quick and easy to stir together and I didn’t have to worry about keeping the dough cold.

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If using a 12″ Dutch oven, you can bake about 8 cookies at one time. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until light brown. Use 6 coals on bottom, 22 on top.

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The mixes don’t make a huge batch and as good as fresh baked cookies taste when you’re camping you might want to toss in an extra package of mix.

Time Capsule Dig

Family Reunion Time Capsule

Five years later and we finally got to dig up our time capsule!  Five years ago at our Stewart family reunion we had every family member fill out a questionnaire.  We asked questions about the present, their predictions for the future and invited everyone to set some goals that they hoped to accomplish by the time we opened the capsule in 2013.

On the 2nd day of our reunion this year, we went to Grandma’s house where the time capsule was buried to begin our search for the capsule we had buried five years ago.  We followed a very funny set of clues that cousin Tyler made up to find the capsule. 

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The first clue took us to the "”three pronged wooded fork” and then led us to a spot under Grandma’s bathroom window…. but there was no capsule there.

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Retracing our steps we realized that we had misinterpreted the clues and on this attempt found the time capsule buried at the corner of the house.  It took a little digging and we broke the lid off of the capsule but we found all our questionnaires safe and sound.

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Family History Church

We read our questionnaires at  the conclusion of our annual family history “church” we hold at each reunion.  Some of us found that we had remained focused during the five years and completed our goals and some found that their goals had been forgotten.  Some of us predicted what the price of gas would be in 2013 pretty accurately and some found they were living in a fantasy land. We had questioners from old boyfriends that had attended our reunion that year and from a dear Grandpa who had passed away.

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Our family time capsule was a big hit and family members voted to make another time capsule next year.  We’re already working on the questions for our new questionnaire.

Family Reunion Payback Pockets

Payback pockets are a fun way to pay back family members for the difference they have made in your life.  Payback pockets are a fun way to “pay back” your family for the difference they have made in your life-  way of showing appreciation and a way  of saying thanks.

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Our Payback pockets were labeled in fun way using money terms such as Steve’s Sawbucks, Ann’s Ante and Lynn’s Loot.

Writing Station

Set up a writing “station” and stock it with stationary, stickers, markers and colored paper.  Having fun stickers and stationary encourages family members to write notes. 

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You don’t need to set aside any time for note writing during your reunion.  Family members will find their own time  to write  whether it’s during some reunion downtime or during an activity they may not wish to participate in.

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The little ones in our family had fun writing notes, well, actually drawing pictures, and they loved using the markers and stickers.

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The reunion planners used the pockets as a way of delivering special treats and surprises during our reunion.  One day each Big Six received crackers, chocolate and marshmallows for S’mores around the campfire.  Another day  bouquet of lollypops was delivered to each pocket.

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Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts part 2

 

Scavenger Hunt Clues Using Pictures

Take a picture of the location of a hidden clue but only take a portion of the picture. In the example below you can see that just a portion of the word is shown.  You could do part of a clock, drinking fountain, corner of tent, a car wheel with interesting rims etc.  When the hunters figure out what the clue is a picture of they run to that location to get their next picture clue and so on until they find the treasure.  This does take some advance planning but makes for fun hunt for even the very young that may not be good readers.
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Secret Codes Hunt

Writing secret codes is another way to generate clues. Using numbers in place of letters is an easy way to create the code (1=a, 2=b, etc.), but  using a backwards letter code can make things a little extra challenging. Decipher the  clue to find out where to look for their next clue.

Urban Race

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As a Youth Council advisor for our town, I had the fun opportunity to participate in a Great Urban Race at Utah State University.  The teenagers learned a lot about the university by unscrambling clues and completing challenges to complete the race.  The kids loved it and I couldn’t help but think what a fun activity it could be for a family reunion, especially if you held your reunion in a town that your family had ties to. 

Urban Race is the team race that’s part photo hunt and part trivia. Teams must solve clues to find checkpoints throughout the city. To move on they must take photos or perform certain tasks to earn points.

The fun part of an urban race is that the use of cellphones is  okay. Teams may call family members left back at the reunion site to get help with difficult trivia. Everyone gets a chance to participate in the fun.

Riddle Clues

Scavenger Hunt Ideas & Riddles | Treasure Hunting | Riddle Me

The most difficult part of a treasure or scavenger hunt for me is making up the  clues, it’s also time consuming. I found a website that can help with that- it’s called “Riddle Me”. They have over Over 10,000 Riddles on 1,200 objects and can target different age groups and types of gatherings.  Their program also lets you be in control over the time of the activity, because it lets you decide how many clues to print in a scavenger hunt.

Treasure Hunts and Scavenger Hunts

Puzzle Treasure Hunt

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Take a picture of where the treasure will be hidden.  Cut up the picture of the location into several pieces. (The older the participants the more pieces)

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Hide the pieces in a designated area. Players search for the pieces then try to assemble the puzzle to get the prize or treasure.

Sandbox Treasure Hunt

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Sandbox treasure hunts are tried and true hunts.  Hide pennies, nickels and quarters in sand or saw dust.  Be sure and keep the sawdust and sand contained in a #10 tub, children’s pool or on a sheet of plastic. 

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Who’s Got the Key? Treasure Hunt

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Gather as many spare keys that you can find. You will need a lot of keys so ask family members to bring their keys also. (You can purchase large lots of key blanks on eBay for under $10.00) Buy a lock and key. Put the lock on a treasure chest or box of some sort with hidden treasure in it. Hide all of the keys including the key that will open the lock. Everyone searches for a key, when they find a key they try it in the lock- if it doesn’t work they search for another key until someone finds the correct key and opens the treasure.

Digital Camera Treasure Hunt

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This is such a fun idea for a family reunion. You’ll need one digital camera for each team. Give each team a list of things to take pictures of.  If you want to put a family history spin on this hunt, challenge teams to find:

Someone who served in a war
Oldest relative at the reunion
Youngest relative at the reunion
Relative that  has won a trophy
Someone that had a rotary dial phone
Relative who came the farthest distance to the reunion
Someone who has lived out  of the country
The couple that has been married the longest

You get the idea- it’s fun to really make teams talk to their older relatives to find out the information.  Be sure and take a team picture with each relative.

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Cousin Bobbie planned a digital camera hunt as part of our Thanksgiving fun a few years ago.  We had to find as many things on our list as possible, take a picture of them and return back to the meeting area and determine the winner.  We had to find things like a scarecrow, pumpkin, cat, turkey and Christmas lights.

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Look for part 2 or this article next week and in the meantime- happy hunting!

The Jumping, Running, Throwing Fun of an Obstacle Course

I’m not writing this blog for you, I’m writing it for me.  Every time I need to create an obstacle course I have to rethink every type of course we’ve done in the past.  Next time I have to make an obstacle course I’m just going to search for this blog,hopefully you’ll get some good ideas too.

Kids love obstacle courses and they’re pretty easy to create just using the things you have around your house or party area. 

The easiest way to create a course is to assign each person one obstacle or if it is for a family reunion, assign several families to each bring an obstacle.  You  can do this with little or no advance notice using just the things you have in the course area.

If you have a committee that is putting the course together spend some time brainstorming ideas for your course layout. If you will be at a campground you may be able to take advantage of a water hazard, large rocks and logs.

Eight to ten challenges is a good number for most people.  Here’s some tried and true obstacles that have proved to be fun  over the years.

Jumping Obstacles

Bales of straw or hay make a fun obstacle.  Other jumping obstacles can be logs, laundry baskets or rolled up sleeping bags.  Instead of jumping you can crawl under or over a row of chairs.

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Running Obstacles

Lay a ladder on the ground and children run through the ladder making sure they step in the hole between each rung on the ladder.

Every obstacle course needs a tire challenge of some sort.  When runners reach the tires, they have to run through them, placing one foot in each of the tires. The more tires you have the harder it becomes.

Swinging Obstacles

Everybody likes a good old rope swing and it’s a fun addition to any obstacle course. If you aren’t near a natural water hazard fill up a kiddy wading pool to provide an extra challenge. Several big knots tied in the rope’s end makes it easier to grab.

Balancing Obstacles

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Using logs, 2x4s or wooden planks makes for a fun balancing portion of your course.

Throwing Obstacles

Throw beanbags into a bucket or basket.  If you have access to a basketball hoop, require participants to make a basket before moving to the next challenge.  If football is your sport of choice throw a ball through a goal post made of PVC pipe.

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Silly Obstacles

Purchase some old couch cushions from the thrift store, mattress or foam pad and set out for participants to run through. This challenge will really slow runners down- just be sure to tell them there is no jumping allowed.

And don’t forget cones (good for zig zagging) and hula hoops (good substitute for tires).

A stopwatch (or the stopwatch on your cellphone) is essential for keeping track of their course times.  You can keep times individually or run your obstacle course as a team relay event.

Setting up an obstacle course is a wonderful way for adults and children to get some fun physical activity. Kids will do it as  part of an organized activity but when the “official” activity is over they’ll continue to play and be entertained making their own kind of fun.

Famous Aunts & Uncles Family Reunion Game

How well do you know the aunts and uncles in your family?  Well,here’s a test to find out how well you know “famous” aunts and uncles that you’ve come to love through TV, books and in the movies.  Pass copies of the test out to older family members when they arrive at your reunion or during down time. Give prizes for the best(WHOPPERS, SMARTIES,100 GRAND) and worst (Milk DUDS) scores.

Famous Aunts & Uncles

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1. Andy Griffith’s Aunt

2. Mr. Television

3. “Wizard of Oz” aunt

4. Uncle on “Adams Family”

5. Forgetful Aunt on “Bewitched”

6. Uncle housekeeper on “My Three Sons”

7. Common sense aunt on “Fresh Prince of "Bel-Air”

8. Harry Potter’s strict uncle

9. Trademark for pancake flour and syrup

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10. Luke Skywalker’s uncle from “Star Wars”

11. Tom Sawyer’s aunt

12. Cissy, Buffy & Jody’s uncle on “Family Affair”

13. Whitney Houston’s famous singing Aunt

14. Motorcycle riding uncle on “Full house”

15. George Clooney’s favorite singing aunt

16. The richest duck in the world

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17. Aunt that Amy stays with in “Little Women” 

18. He wants YOU (for the US Army)

19. Spiderman’s uncle and adoptive father

20. Who lived with her aunts at 133 Collins Road?

Famous Aunts & Uncles Answer Key

Answer Key

1. Andy Griffith’s Aunt- Aunt Bee

2. Mr. Television Uncle- Miltie

3. “Wizard of Oz” aunt- Auntie Em

4. Uncle on “Adams Family”- Uncle Festus

5. Forgetful Aunt on “Bewitched”- Aunt Clara

6. Uncle housekeeper on “My Three Sons”- Uncle Charley

7. Common-sense aunt on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” Aunt Vivian

8. Harry Potter’s strict uncle- Uncle Vernon

9. Trademark for pancake flour and syrup- Aunt Jemima

10. Luke Skywalker’s uncle from “Star Was” Uncle Owen

11. Tom Sawyer’s aunt- Aunt Polly

12. Cissy, Buffy & Jody’s uncle on “Family Affair”- Uncle Bill

13. Whitney Houston’s famous singing Aunt- Dionne Warwick

14. Motorcycle riding uncle on “Full house” – Uncle Jesse

15. George Clooney’s favorite singing aunt- Rosemary Clooney

16. The richest duck in the world- Uncle Scrooge

17. Aunt that Amy stays with in “Little Women”- Aunt March

18. He wants YOU (for the US Army)- Uncle Sam

19. Spiderman’s uncle and adoptive father- Uncle Ben

20. Who lived with her aunts at 133 Collins Road?- Sabrina the Teenage Witch

A “ready for printing” copy of this game as well as other fun “Pencil and Paper” games is included with every family reunion theme package purchased at familyreunionhelper.com/

Looking for another fun game to test your knowledge?  Try the Older Than Dirt game and find out who is older than dirt at your next reunion.

Using Your Super Hero Powers to Wipe Out Dead Air At Your Family Reunion

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How to Destroy Boring Family Reunion
“Dead Air”

Back in my 20’s I worked as a disc jockey at a radio station.  About the worst thing a deejay could do back then and I’m  pretty sure now, is to have “dead air”.  Dead air is an unintended period of silence during a radio broadcast.  I have been unfortunate enough to experience some  periods of dead air when I worked as a disc jockey, usually because I was unprepared, unorganized or because there was an equipment mal-function.  I have also experienced “dead air” at a family reunion.

It is most common to experience reunion or party dead air between the time when family or guests are arriving and the time when the planned activities are scheduled to begin.  I know you’ve experienced it- people just standing around in awkward silence not sure what they’re supposed to be doing and wishing that they had someone to talk to.

There is a solution to doing away with reunion dead air- be prepared, be organized and PLAN an activity that doesn’t have to be supervised.

A few of our favorite dead air busters are:

Sugar Cookie Decorating

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When we arrived at Aunt Karen’s dinosaur reunion twenty or so years ago, we found plastic wrapped dinosaurs shaped sugar cookies tied to trees and fences all around the park where the reunion was held.  After checking in, everyone went on a dinosaur hunt to find the perfect sugar cookie and then on  to the decorating station where we found frosting, sprinkles and candies to decorate our cookies.

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As we frosted and decorated our cookies, other family members arrived and we laughed, talked and ate our dinosaur masterpieces and Bam- dead air destroyed!

DIY Tee Shirts

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The Brown family used a creative idea to not only take care of dead air but to also personalize their reunion t-shirts.

Instead of doing a generic design on their shirts they did stick figures of a family and when family members arrived at the reunion  they painted their own shirt using fabric paints and markers.  Everyone was so busy and excited about their shirts they chatted and shared ideas and Pow- dead air busted!

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Boondoggle

Boondoggle will keep most kids, 10 and over occupied for any dead air during your reunion.  By taking two strings of boondoggle, you can weave, braid, or otherwise knot it to create some fun projects.

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Set out a few spools of boondoggle and a few clips or key chains and before   you know it, young and old will be making new boondoggle creations.

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You will need someone to man the boondoggle station that knows how to start boondoggle.  If someone in your family has been to a girl or boy scout camp they probably already know how to do boondoggle.  A good resource for learning boondoggle basics is Boondoggle Man- and Splash- dead air busted!

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NOTE: If using an activity for the older children, like boondoggle, don’t forget to set out something for the younger ones such as coloring pages, a kiddy pool  filled with sand or a few soft balls.

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Stating the Obvious

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Here’s the obvious boredom busters- set up volleyball, badminton, croquet, horseshoes or any activity that  will get your family interacting with each other. 

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I have a giant Checkers game that I set out at every reunion (it’s tradition) and before too  long one of the cousins will challenge an uncle to a game and a crowd will  gather around to watch. 

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to set these games up but it sure adds to the reunion fun.

When most of your family has arrived at the reunion it’s time to move on to your planned activities, usually ice breaker games, but with some extra planning and effort on your part their won’t be much ice to break- families members will feel right at home because you’ve used your super hero powers to destroy reunion dead air.

Fun Party Games for Your Family Reunion

Are you looking for a fun game for your family party or reunion? Here’s a few fun  party games that also work well for  family reunions.  These games  work well for most ages  and abilities.

Paddle Ball Contest

I bought a dozen paddle balls, for under $10.00) from Oriental Trading (http://www.orientaltrading.com) so that we could have 12 people compete at a time. Everyone needs a partner so count off in twos. One person will compete, the other will count. I suggest coming up with some rules, for example, competitors must hit the ball down not up, they must not touch the elastic or the ball.

Give everyone a 1 minute “warm up” to practice and develop their technique. Time for 1 minute and award medals to those that hit the ball the most times.  Then reverse and let the counter have a chance with the paddle.

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Feeding Frenzy Pudding Game

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You will need one single serving of pudding for each participant. Teams of two sit one behind each other. The person behind puts their arms underneath the person in front. (See pictures) The person behind must feed the person in front the pudding. First team done is the winner of that round. Teams then reverse and the person that was in front now sits behind and its their turn to “get even”!

Spray Bottle Relay

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Set a garbage can 12′ from the foul line and place container of balloons behind the foul line. When the clock starts, player may toss balloon in the air from behind the foul line and attempt to direct it into the trash can using only the spray bottle. If the balloon hits the ground, the spray bottle, or any part of the player’s body, it’s void. A player may reuse an old balloon or use a new balloon to make a new attempt from behind the foul line. To complete the game, player must move 1 balloon through the air and into the trash can using only the water from the spray bottle within the 60-second time limit.

Pool-ategories!

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This game is as fun to watch as it is to play. First, chose a leader to be the “caller”. After you have chosen the caller, they will think of a category (colors, animals, ice cream flavors, etc).  People will line up at the diving board. One person will jump off the diving board and the caller will say a category as soon as they leave the diving board. The person who jumps off has to name something in the category before they hit the water. If he or she does, they return to the line. If they do not, they are out. Then the next person in line goes.  The last person in the game is the caller for the next round.

Balloon Stomp

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I think this is Uncle Scott’s favorite party game and it really does work well with a large group of people.

An area of your family reunion site is cordoned off or you could use an inside area. Participants tie a balloon to each ankle. On a whistle all the contestants have to try to stomp on each other’s balloons and pop them. If both of your balloons are popped you are out. The winner is the last one with a un-popped balloon on their leg.

5 Dollars Off Any $19.95 Reunion Theme Package

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Had the pleasure of stopping by the Mower family reunion today. It was so fun to see everyone visiting, enjoying yummy food and kids playing on the toys. Seeing them having such a good time made me excited for family reunion season. Can’t wait to get together with our extended family!

To get the reunion season started off right, family reunion helper is offering 5.00 off any of their $19.95 reunion theme packages. Circus, Caveman, Heritage, All-sport, Western or any of our fun reunion themes.

Just enter the code "reunion2013" at check out. This offer expires at midnight, May 27th 2013, Memorial Day- the start of family reunion season!