A week at the lake | Midwest Living

A week at the lake

Our tips help you savor vacation's sweetest moments, including fishing off a dock, napping in a hammock and building a sand castle.


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Sandcastles, Campfires and S'mores


Create a sandcastle

Enrico Schaefer and sons Echo, 6, Fielding, 4, and Apollo, 2, scored first place in the 2004 Traverse City, Michigan, WaterFest Family Sandcastle-Building Competition. Below, Enrico shares some tips of the trade.

COMMIT TO YOUR SANDCASTLE. Plan on spending a good quality hour or two with the family on your project, not just turning a couple of sand-filled buckets upside down and calling it a castle.

BUILD AT WATER’S EDGE. That’s where there’s plenty of perfect castle-building sand that’s just wet enough to stick together. Plus, you’re going to want a moat, not only because it looks cool, but because it’s fun for kids to splash in. The closer the water, the easier it is to fill your moat.

START WITH LOTS OF SAND. Spend the first 15 minutes or so of your project creating a big pile of it to work with. Fill buckets, carry armfuls, or push it across the beach with your hands or feet. Use a shovel if you want to get really serious. Make the mound as big as you can to keep building material handy and the project nice and long.

DECORATE. Every good sandcastle has a breakwall made of rocks and a tower decorated with sticks and feathers. Scavenge for natural materials to put the finishing touches on your creation.

INCLUDE EVERYONE. All ages can help build a sandcastle. When kids stay busy, they stay interested. In the Schaefer family, Echo’s old enough to help carry buckets of sand, Fielding hunts for decorations, Apollo tests the sturdiness of the moat, and Dad serves as chief sand-mover and project coordinator.


Counselors with fire-building troubles during camp cookouts turn to Amatullah Richard, Camp Fire USA Heartland Council director of outdoor programs. She clued us in to her tried-and-true, step-by-step process for safe and hassle-free ignition.

START WITH A DESIGNATED FIRE RING, far from flammables such as low branches or exposed tree roots.

GATHER DEAD WOOD, the kind that snaps, not bends, when you try to break it. You’ll need all sizes—match-size tinder, medium-size kindling and logs. (Don’t use grass or leaves, by the way. They could smolder or burn out of control.)

PILE TINDER in the center of the fire ring. Build a teepee around the tinder with kindling.

MAKE A SECOND TEEPEE on top of the first with your logs. Light the tinder, and voila! There’s your campfire.

WHEN THE PARTY’S OVER, spread the coals out and sprinkle, don’t dump, water on them. Make sure the ashes are cool before heading in.


S’mores are often part of the weekly picnic thrown by Bob and Jennifer Bateman of Two Inlets Resort in Minnesota, pictured on these pages. Their favorite variations on the classic chocolate bar, toasted marshmallow and graham cracker sandwich:

LAZY MAN’S S’MORE Use fudge-striped or chocolate-covered graham cookies in place of graham crackers and chocolate bars.

SHUTTER UPPERS Roast two marshmallows and a caramel. Stick between saltine crackers. The gooey caramel makes it hard to talk while eating this treat. "Great for kids! " the Batemans joke.



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