Jen R.
Reading, PA
Joined May 2018
Working mom of 2 that loves the outdoors and to camp. We love spending time as a family and teaching our kids about nature and how to respect and love
River front camping with lots of outdoor adventure

River Rock Adventures- Bainbridge, Pa- Lancaster County- Campground Review As a Ranger on The Dyrt, I sometimes receive compensation for reviews like this one. We just got back today from our weekend camping trip and we had so much fun that I couldn’t wait to come home and write about our adventure. We booked our trip on The Dyrt website. We immediately got confirmation our reservation request was received. We received a followup email a week before our trip. We were able to ask questions and ensure we were prepared for our trip. Our questions were answered and we were ready to go! The whole process was easy and we didn’t have any issues with making our reservation. This was a unique experience as you rent the entire campground. You pull back a stone road past the Northwest Lancaster Trail and just before the river there is a green cattle gate on your right. The gate is nice to keep closed since the trail is very close and we were told sometimes hikers get off course thinking that is the trail. As you pull back towards the river you see a large family size port o potty on your left and you pull back further into camp where there is a picnic table and covered kitchen area equipped with a charcoal grill/smoker combo and hand washing station. There was a nice area for us to keep our dry storage and food totes and to set up our camp stove for our cooking and prep area. There are two large tent pads directly a side of the river and three more tent areas in the wooded areas of the campground. In the rear of the property there was an awesome outdoor shower equipped with a filled solar shower ready for us to use. Near the two tent pads there was even a boat launch. We saw maybe about a dozen boats over the weekend so it wasn’t heavily traveled. When we arrived there was a very nice gentleman named Colby who met us and showed us around the grounds. He explained everything and gave us a welcome packet that had stickers, maps of the local attractions and hiking areas and general information about the area which was very helpful. As I mentioned they provided the solar shower filled with water, a 5 gallon container of fresh water and filled the hand washing station with fresh water which was fantastic to have as we had three children ranging in age from 10 to 2. Colby informed us that we were among the first 5 groups that had camped there. He said they would eventually like to be able to provide more items like tents, kayaks, bicycles, fishing gear and anything you would need for camping. We have our own camping equipment as we started out with very rustic, deep woods camping so that would not be a feature that would attract me to camping here. However, for someone who has never camped before and just wants to try it to see if they like it, I believe that would be a great idea so they don’t have to make a large investment into equipment they may only use once if they end up not enjoying camping. One of the major downfalls to camping here is that there is an electric plant directly across the river. It was loud on Friday night to the point where we were having to speak very loudly in order to hear each other. It was like a white noise so at least it put me to sleep when that time came. THANKFULLY, the plant shut down sometime early Saturday morning and it was quiet the rest of the weekend. I don’t know how it would be camping here during the week so BE AWARE! Despite the power plant there is really a lot to do so you shouldn’t be bored. As I mentioned there is the Northwest Lancaster Trail to walk along, ride your bike, geocache or check out the Edible Forest. We found some raccoon tracks in the mud down by the river and checked out the scenery of the York Haven Catwalk. You can fish, go out on the boat, hang by the river, relax in the hammocks provided. There is also a Ghost Town nearby and a historic mansion. There are three options for pricing. Option 1 is$90/night for three people and that includes 2 hammocks and 1 bundle of wood. Option 2 is$150/night for up to 6 people and that includes 3 hammocks and 2 bundles of wood. Option 3 is$200/night for up to 10 people and that includes 4 hammocks, 3 bundles of wood and fishing gear. You can also purchase additional fire wood, hammocks or rent fishing gear. We had a great time and made some great memories with our friends and families. Product Review: Grub Stick As a Ranger for The Dyrt I sometimes am provided products to use and review. This trip we used and reviewed a product called Grub Stick. It is a telescoping stick with interchangeable attachments. There are three different packages you can order. Basically, there is a small, medium and large package. The small is the basic with the stick, hotdog fork, smore cage and the tool to open the cage while hot. The medium includes two sticks, two hotdog forks, smore cage, hamburger cage, silicone hotpad, tool to open cages, bacon clip and the small and large grub tubes. The master kit comes with two of everything except the tool and bacon clip. I read some reviews on this product and some of them were not too good so I really didn’t know what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised. We started with using the burger attachment however we roasted pineapple slices and peach halves. Oh boy, were they delicious! I thought it worked perfectly for what we were trying to accomplish. The tool is very simple to operate to open the cages. The silicone handle really gives you a good grip so you don’t slip and burn your hand on the hot cage. Next, we made the pizza tube recipe on the grub sticks website. We took pizza dough and wrapped it around the large grub tube. We cooked it over the fire until it was golden brown and it easily slipped off of the tube. Our string cheese was already softened so we did not use the hotdog attachment to soften as directed on the website. Next, we added pizza sauce and dug in. They were delicious! I can’t wait to try cinnamon rolls or crescent rolls next time! After we ate dinner we made smores. We got out the smore cage and I will tell you folks, this was the one attachment I was not sure I was going to like. We built our smores and closed the cage and over the fire it went. You definitely have to rotate it and make sure you get your marshmallow toasted. Otherwise, if you don’t you will just have a burnt graham cracker and non-toasted marshmallow and hard chocolate. Nobody wants that. I also wasn’t sure if I would like my graham cracker toasted. Well folks, I was completely wrong. They. Were. Awesome! We also toasted some marshmallows using the fork and didn’t have any problem with them sliding off. We let the centers of the marshmallows cool and collapse and then added some Irish Cream. I wasn’t a big fan as you will see in my pictures but everyone else enjoyed them. I absolutely cannot wait to use this again and try different recipes. Pros: Silicone handled tools made them extremely easy to handle and use. All kits come with a handy carrying bag so you don’t lose all of the pieces. The attachments were very easy to change out and use. The telescoping feature is great. It is a thicker pole also, not thin like some of the others I have bought in the past. Cages can be used for multiple purposes. The grub tubes were a great way to be able to“bake” without using a dutch oven. Cleaned up nicely after using. This is the perfect set for cooking if you are a single person or a couple who are backpacking. Cons: Unless you have multiple grub sticks it would take forever to cook for a lot of people. This worked great to make some appetizers and desserts however I couldn’t imagine cooking a full meal for a group of people. The bacon clip should be able to handle a little thicker bacon. I did not have any problem with this but according to other reviews some people had issues with the attachment screw breaking. I don’t have too many bad things to say about this product. I really was skeptical at first but I am now a believer. I had so much fun using this and I can’t wait to do it again. Thanks for reading and happy camping!

Extremely peaceful and in the middle of no where

This is a very nice cabin with three bedrooms, a loft area and 1.5 bathrooms, LR, kitchen and small dining area. There is a large deck with a few chairs and a picnic table. You travel down a non-paved road and into the middle of absolute peacefulness. I sat on the porch for about an hour trying to hear something other than acorns falling, birds chirping and airplanes to no avail. There is a fire pit area however due to the rain we had all of the wood was wet and we were not able to get one started. The sofa in the LR was broken. It almost looked like someone jumped off of the balcony onto it. There was a bachelor party in there just before us so it looks like that had a good time. Also, all of the beds were absolutely not comfortable AT ALL. My back hurt so badly I almost slept on the floor. There is a TV there but no cable however there is internet so they have Hulu, Netflix, ROKU, Amazon Video and a lot of other ways to watch shows if you want. There is a washer and dryer, air conditioning and a wood stove for heat. They also have a crib for infants and a high chair which was very nice as we had a 1 year old at the time. The kitchen was also stocked with appliances, dishes, cups, cooking items, silverware and amenities so we didn't have to drag everything plus the kitchen sink along. Pets are allowed however there is no smoking. You have to be at least 25 years old to rent the cabin. Raystown Lake is very close by and so is Trough Creek State Park. There is a suspension bridge at the park, Balanced Rock and Rainbow Falls. We had a fantastic time and look forward to heading back to the area again someday soon. Everything was stocked very well and we definitely enjoyed our stay.

Peaceful, secluded campground for all nature lovers

French Creek State Park

Loop C Site 36

Hey everyone! Ranger Jen here with my first camping trip of the season for 2019. We have been having a crazy amount of rain here in Pennsylvania so due to weather related issues we haven’t been able to get out there until now. We absolutely love camping at French Creek for several reasons. The first has to be the sites. As long as you don’t stay right across from the bath houses you will find ample shade at your site. There are so many trees and brush in between most sites you can’t even really see your neighbors. Secondly, the price you pay for what you get is extremely cost effective. It cost us $65 for the weekend plus a $6 service fee for using the Reserve America website. We had electric however no water or sewer hookup. There was a spigot for water at the next site over from us, so we didn’t have to walk far to get fresh water. This is a great place to stay for a family or the outdoor enthusiast as there is so much to do. There is a huge lake where you can rent canoes and kayaks. A huge pool that has a beautiful view overlooking the lake. There are trails for mountain biking or hiking, a frisbee golf course, playground at the campground and at the lake, and an amphitheater at the campground where they hold events and Sunday morning church services. Not to mention close by there is Hopewell National Furnace and St. Peter’s Village with shops and restaurants and hiking trails as well. There are also two lakes, Scotts Run Lake and Hopewell Lake that you can fish, kayak, canoe or just relax by. There are several warm water fish in the lakes including northern pike, chain pickerel, bass, walleye, muskellunge and several types of panfish. If RV or tent camping is not your thing there are also two Yurts and one cabin available for rental as well.

We have stayed at French Creek in the past however, we have never stayed in Loop C before. This is the only loop that allows pets. I expected it to be much noisier than it was. All of the dogs were well behaved, and we didn’t have any problems as we took our walks around the loop. At the bath house there are two sinks for washing dishes and a counter to set them on which is nice. They are deep sinks also with HOT water. I was very disappointed in the cleanliness of the women’s bathroom. Let me just say I went one time and didn’t go back. Luckily, we have a cassette toilet in our camper. Normally, I just use that in the middle of the night but not this time. The campground hosts were nice and helpful however I don’t think they are responsible for cleaning the bathrooms. However, someone should look into having it done ASAP.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time and this weekend I was testing Morsel Sporks. We had two sizes which were the XL and the mini. Upon ordering I was thinking the mini would be a good size for our almost 2 year old and my husband, son and I would use the XL’s. I was surprised at the size of the XL when they arrived in the mail. I was originally thinking how am I going to use this gigantic thing but the more I used it the happier I was with the size.

Pros:

The XL is perfect for getting down to the corner of your bagged meals, scraping the sides of your bowl without the worry of scratching due to the rubber edges which also helps to conform to any hand. I used it to mix my pancake batter. The fork worked great to whisk the eggs and the spoon side was great for getting down into the mix to ensure it was all mixed in. I also made chili and it was great for stirring as you are not to fry with them however you can submerge them in hot water. We also used them to eat our chili. It was funny as my husband was using the spoon side and me the fork side. What do you eat your chili with? Let the great debate begin! P.S. – It was a think chili however I did end up flipping it over at the end to scrape my bowl with the spatula. What was especially nice with the XL was that once I did flip it over to use the other end my hand was able to stay in the same place and not get full of sauce. I can’t stand when I get something on my utensil and then it gets on my fingers. That was always a problem I had with other products like this in the past. The XL is 10.5 inches long and the mini is 7.5 inches long. The mini has been great to travel with for our daughter. She uses it to eat everything from applesauce, hotdogs, mac and cheese, ice cream, Rita’s and yogurt.  It is very lightweight (.6 oz mini, .85 oz XL) yet durable, so she can be rough with it and it holds up. Let’s be real, we all know our kids throw stuff. The material which is plastic is very easy to clean as well and doesn’t get greasy. I even use mine at work. #1 it cuts down on plastic wear in the garbage and #2 because the plastic wear is cheap, and it just bends under the pressure of just trying to eat. Seriously, it bends when I try to eat a salad. There is also a hole, so you can clip it to your pack. Plus, this product is made in the USA and they offer a lifetime guarantee as long as it is under normal conditions. There is also just a spoon/spatula that can be purchased along with a combo of the products. The cost is very reasonable and it is a lifetime guarantee so all the more reason to spend for the quality.

Cons:

I have done some research and have found that some left-handed people have some trouble using the product. Maybe if they angled the bottoms it would help. Also, it would be nice to have the XL handle size with the size of the mini ends. My husband who is a cancer survivor has issues eating due to reconstructive surgery on his jaw. He can only open his mouth so wide. He did okay but after a while it was making his mouth tired to be opening it to get it in his mouth. Maybe if it was a little slimmer it would help. The fork side is really pointy as well so if you have this in your backpack you may want to wrap something around it to ensure you don’t poke a hole in anything you don’t want a hole through. I think it would be cool to have a glow in the dark version of these products as well. There is not a sharp knife so if you are eating meat or something that requires cutting you will most likely need something else. Overall, I was very happy with this product. I will definitely be looking into getting some more.

Thanks for reading and happy camping!

Quiet, secluded Susquehanna River getaway

Otter Creek Campground Review

Otter Creek is located at 1101 Furnace Rd, Airville, PA 17302 and is directly aside of the Susquehanna River and Otter Creek in York County. This campground is perfect for all kinds of people from family, campers, boaters, fishers, someone who is seeking rest and relaxation, peace and quiet, adventure seekers on the river, history enthusiasts, trail seekers, nature lovers and more!

We stayed over Labor Day weekend however it rained so badly on Friday night that York was flooded in several areas so we decided to stay home and leave on Saturday morning. I am so glad we did because roads we needed to travel on were closed and we wouldn’t have gotten through anyway. Luckily on Saturday we didn’t run into any problems on our travels.

The campground itself is up on the hill overlooking the river. As you pull into the driveway you are directed to the right and you pull up to a gate. We were buzzed in and followed the signs to check in upon arrival. The camp store was very nice with basic RV equipment and accessories. There was also a small variety of food available like peanut butter and jelly, milk, marshmallows, candy, gum and they also had hard Turkey Hill ice cream. Upon checking in we were greeted by a very nice woman behind the counter and received the information on the events planned for the weekend. We purchased our firewood (tractor bucket full for $35) and proceeded to our site #21. That was a great price and it lasted us for both nights we were there. We pulled around and found our site easily and got set up. Our site was very large and there was a wooded area between both sites aside of us. They both looked to be permanent sites. Once we had our popup set up and everything in order we were ready to start our fire and relax.

The campground was very family friendly. There was a nice playground with a rockwall, slides and swings. There was also a volleyball court along with two horseshoe pits. They had a few kid friendly events planned like the Hershey Zoo and Family Bingo. They also had a food truck on site on Saturday for a few hours. Just down the road about a mile or so was the Indian Steps Museum which is owned by York Conservation Society. Across the river there was a wildflower sanctuary and Wind Cave that could be accessed by ferry or you can drive there and park along the road.

The river is only a short walk from the campground which is directly across the street at Otter Creek Picnic Area where there are private and public boat docks. You could easily fish from anywhere along the riverside and there was even an area where there were a few baby swings and open area for play. There was a small parking lot which would accommodate up to 10 to 15 cars. The parking lot is located on a series of corners so be careful when pulling into the lot.

Unfortunately, with all of the rain we have had here in Pennsylvania this summer the river was brown with mud and tree debris. There was no way any fish was going to see anything in that water. Our son wanted to try but the only thing he caught were branches. The ground aside of the river was also so saturated from flooding it was difficult to walk though without sinking into the ground. It was still very neat and relaxing to hear the rushing of the water from the campground.

There was one main bathhouse with flushing toilets, running water and pay showers. It was $0.50 for 6 minutes as per the sign however when I put my quarters in I got 7 minutes on the clock! I am not complaining. I made sure to use every second of that nice hot shower. There was plenty of room in the shower and stall however the shower curtain could have been a little bigger. It looked like a curtain for a single shower stall instead of a double which is what you would have needed. So the bench where my clothing was got a little wet and the floor in the dressing area was pretty flooded. Other than that it was very refreshing and well needed.

The campground is on about 4 acres. It was uphill in parts so it was nice to be able to walk our two dogs around in a large circle without having to leave the campground. They were pretty pooped by the time we got back and were ready to rest by the fireside. There was a nice pavilion right aside of the playground which was only one road behind us. We could hear our son from our campsite. There were also several outhouse buildings where there were two or four stalls with a sink. It was an outhouse but with a regular toilet with seat and lid. The only difference was there was a hole instead of flushing. We were right in the middle of two and close enough to the main bathhouse as well so we had several options for restroom use besides the one in our popup.

We all had a fantastic time and I would highly recommend this campground if you are looking for an affordable, out of the way, off the beaten path,  peaceful and relaxing time to just be lazy and do whatever you feel at the moment. We love to travel to different campgrounds to check out new things and see nature however I am going to add this campground to my list of places for a return visit.

Rustic peaceful camp in woods

Camp Review

I had the pleasure of staying at Camp Serranova which is for non-profit organizations with our cub scout pack from Thursday night to Sunday morning. We had an absolute blast! The camp is privately run and sits back in the woods of Macungie, Pa. It is minutes down the road from Bear Creek Mountain Resort and about 25 minutes from Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Allentown.

There are a few camping options available at the camp for your non-profit organization.

Individual Tent Camping Sites = $50.00 per weekend, per site.

Unlimited Group Tent Camping = $100.00 annually per group.

Adirondack Cabins = $90.00 per weekend. (5 Cabins each sleeps 6 total 30)

Memorial Lodge [lower building] = $125.00 per weekend.  (Cabin sleeps about 25)

Bender Building [upper building] = $150.00 per weekend.  (Cabin sleeps about 35)

Entire Camp = $300.00 per weekend.

We were supposed to stay in the Adirondack Cabins which were really neat. They were three sided structures with about a 6 foot roof overhang. They were then screened in and there were 6 bunks that were just plywood. You would definitely want to bring a sleeping pad or pool float or child’s air mattress to sleep on. You cannot drive directly up to the cabins. You need to park down below and walk up the side of the hill approximately 100 yards away to get to the cabins. There is an outhouse nearby however there is no running water. They were in the process of building a pavilion for an Eagle Scout project so we had to stay in the Memorial Lodge. We had to pack up our stuff we already lugged up the hill and move all the way to the other side of the camp. This was annoying as I had my stuff all ready to go and had my 1 year old daughter with me and had to relocate. However, I was glad we were in the cabin as we got a few really bad thunderstorms over the weekend.

Once we arrived at the Memorial lodge we were set up in a few minutes. There were two separate rooms for sleeping quarters. The adults stayed in the smaller room which had seven beds. The large main room is where the boys slept. There was a loft area with two ladders to climb up and most of the boys slept up there. A few slept down below which I am sure was much cooler! There was a large wood stove in the middle of the room and two picnic tables. There was a kitchen as well equipped with a refrigerator, gas stove top with flat griddle and two burners, microwave and toaster oven. Off of the back of the cabin was a large deck with three picnic tables and two sets of stairs off of the deck which lead to a large fire pit and out into the woods. It was very peaceful and beautiful. Some yellow leaves were even starting to fall as the wind blew from the incoming storms and I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to stay there during fall.

There was a large pond about 50 feet from the cabin which was great because the boys had a wonderful time fishing at their own leisure. The main fish that was caught was trout. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures with the catches! We also used the pond for the boats the boys built out of sticks and string and all equipped with a tea candle. They worked in teams and built a total of four boats. Each one was unique and they had all day to work on them. We all assembled before dinner on Friday and tied the boats together about five feet apart. We set all of them in the water and lit the candles. The boys stood back on the bank about ten feet and once the boats were floating they all launched small pebbles and rocks at the water. The goal was to put out the candle, not sink the boats. It didn’t take long for all of the candles to go out but they had a great time throwing stones. Not only that they worked together to build something and they all had fun.

There was a large open grassy area with a hill aside of the pond by the pavilion. This hill was absolutely perfect for the 100 foot tarp we used for our giant slip and slide! Normally I would have been in line with the boys however I have had experience with slip and slides and let me tell you my body does not recover like a 9 year old boy would recover. So I passed and just watched the shear joy and fun on their faces as they were cruising down the hill. We used some soap and hooked up a hose to the water faucet near the upper cabin. I said earlier there is no running water however there are two faucets to get fresh water. There are no bathrooms or sinks in the cabins or out houses that have running water.

In the afternoon after the thunderstorm rolled through the boys spent the afternoon making tool boxes. We had a pre-cut kit and they had to arrange in the correct order, insert the nails and hammer together. We had a branding iron in the shape of the a fleur de lait which is the boy scout symbol. An adult was branding the bottom of the tool boxes and after that was done the boys stained them. It really brought out the branding very nicely and they all looked great. The rest of the afternoon the boys had free time and spent it by fishing, hiking, playing in the fort they created, playing games, whittling or sleeping. Please note - all boys have to have pocket knife training before they are allowed to carry and use a knife on their own. Also, the fort they created was dismantled and no trace was left behind when we left. They ended the evening by making jiffy pop (which some boys have never seen before!!) and glow bracelets and necklaces. They couldn’t wait for lights out after we gave them the glow items.

The camp was extremely quiet and peaceful. Some of the grass was a little high which was concerning considering tick season is full blown right now and Pennsylvania is experiencing an invasive new tick species. So we were constantly having the boys check themselves for ticks. The caretaker was very friendly and tried to accommodate us however he could considering we couldn’t stay where we originally booked. Overall I give this camp a 4.5 star rating. We are looking forward to coming back here next year and staying in the Adirondack Cabins.

Product Review

This trip was the perfect opportunity to try out a product I was testing. As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time and this weekend I was testing Nature’s Coffee Kettle. Believe me, coffee was an absolute necessity this weekend. We only got about 5 hours of sleep the first night so I was not looking forward to making coffee the next morning. However, all I had to do was boil water. Easy right? Absolutely!! All you need is hot water and you open the top of the package and slowly pour in one cup of water. Let it steep and it will slowly flow to the bottom of the bag. That’s right! It brews right in the bag!! Then, after the first cup drains you pour in the rest of the three cups. Each bag makes four cups of coffee. I didn’t want to overfill so I pre-measured out four cups prior to boiling in my tea kettle. It is important to read the directions and follow them in order to ensure a great cup of coffee. Once it brewed for about five minutes, or after you cook three packages of bacon, it was ready to drink.

Pros:

I was completely surprised at how simple it was. I twisted off the cap and poured out a delicious cup of Colombian coffee. The bag was warm but not hot. I didn’t need a heating pad or anything to hold it but beware it can get very warm. It had a wonderful aroma and had a great bold taste. I added my creamer and oh the taste was exactly what I needed as it helped wake me up and get me going for the day. It is a resealable bag so I was able to continue to drink the coffee as the day went on even though it had cooled off. I actually rather enjoyed it as a cold coffee maybe even more so than hot. It was great to be able to walk around the camp and carry my coffee kettle everywhere with me. A great cup of coffee was only a reach away at all times. It really made it nice not having to stop what I was doing to walk back to the cabin to refill my cup considering sometimes we were pretty far away from the cabin.

Cons:

Since the bag is reusable I wanted to make sure it was dried out completely before storing. I had to prop the bag upside down and it kept falling over. It would be nice if there was a stand available to help hold the bag up so you can dry it out for your next use. If you are backpacking or on the road you also may not have a measuring cup nearby. I would suggest marking a line on the bag so you know where to stop so you don’t overfill.

Other than those two suggestions I really didn’t see any other cons about this product. I think the company did an overall fantastic job in their design. They have minimal waste and have created a product that is extremely versatile and affordable. This product allows you to be able to enjoy a cup of coffee, tea, hot chocolate or hot apple cider on the go and wherever you go. Camping, hiking, in the car, at your child’s sporting events, add to your emergency kit, backpacking or at home. They even make refills that you can order since you can use the kettle multiple times. They have several different flavors of coffee such as guatemalan, french roast, sumatra, blueberry and hazelnut. They also have a variety pack as well. I am very excited to get and try out some of their other products. I give this product a 5 star rating! I was super impressed and will definitely be purchasing more in the very near future!

Quiet, clean campground with tons of activities!

Campground Review

French Creek State Park is a 7,526-acre Pennsylvania state park in North Coventry and Warwick Townships in Chester County and Robeson and Union Townships in Berks County which is approximately 15 miles southeast of Reading. This is a beautiful state park with so many wonderful activities. There really is something for everyone here and if you can’t find it you aren’t looking very hard. We LOVE camping here as the campsites are not right on top of one another. There is a lot of shade and the campground is laid out well. There are three separate loops to camp at, Loop C is the only loop that allows pets, plus an area for large group camping which can accommodate anywhere from 30 to 60 people. All sites do not have a water hook up but there is water available and some sites have electric. For an electric site it was the standard State Park fee of 33.50 per night. Also, since this is a State Park there is no alcohol allowed. The Park Rangers drive by regularly which is nice in case you are having any problems or just have general questions about the park. Another feature about this campground which is nice is that they have campground hosts. These are volunteers who stay at the site long term and help out changing tags at sites, cleaning up trash, helping campers with problems or questions, etc. You get to camp for free by being a host so if you are interested in this there is information available on their website. We had some friends who camped with us so we were able to rent two sites aside of each other which was great. We had sites #32 & #34 in Loop B and the kids had a lot of room to run and play between the two sites. We were able to book our sites online which was also a nice feature. The website is very easy to use and you can also call a phone number and they can help you book your stay at any State Park. All sites have a flat paved area for your camper. If you have a large camper or 5th wheel you may need to double check what sites can accommodate your RV to ensure you have enough room. It was nice to just be able to back up our camper and have it mostly level already. Mostly every site that I saw also had a grassy area which is fantastic when you have young kids. I am not a fan of all gravel sites! Our picnic table was definitely in need of replacement. If you leaned on it the wrong way the whole thing would shift and the benches were coming off. The other table at the other site was sturdier and much newer.

The bathroom at the campground is very nice and new however it is a little on the dirty side. I don’t know if they have anyone who goes around to clean the bath houses but it certainly was in need of cleaning. There are two large showers as well with very warm water. I was able to shower with my infant daughter and had no issues with trying to maneuver around while holding her. There is a very nice playground situated conveniently between the loops of the campground. It had some slides, a bridge, lots of monkey bars, ladders to climb on and the best feature was the zip line. All kids and adults agreed it was the most fun! If you don’t want to hang around the campground there are two lakes, Scotts Run Lake and Hopewell Lake that you can fish at, kayak, canoe or just relax by. There are several warm water fish in the lakes including northern pike, chain pickerel, bass, walleye, muskellunge and several types of panfish. Ice fishing is also allowed at both lakes and the ice thickness is monitored. There is also a pool and another playground near the park office. Not to mention the many trails for walking, hiking or biking as well! There are a ton of picnic tables too so you can take a lunch and just sit by the lake to relax and have a bite to eat. We have also attending an Orienteering event here which was nation wide and really exciting. People came from all over the country to attend which was really a great experience. There is also a frisbee golf course in the woods to make it even more interesting and competitive. The trees definitely make it harder! I have come to realize that I am not good at golf, frisbee or regular. Oh and don’t forget about the horseback riding! Please bring your own horse - no rentals available. If you are local I would recommend bringing some of your own firewood. There is not a camp store where it is available for purchase. You can find some for sale from the neighboring homes but it’s not always a guarantee. If you can’t find enough to keep you busy at the campground or park there are a few attractions nearby. There is the Reading and Berks County Visitors Bureau and Chester County Visitors Bureau, State Game Lands 43, Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center, Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site and Daniel Boone Homestead.

We really enjoyed camping here again and look forward to our next overnight trip. We like it so much here we take day trips here. It is such a beautiful area with all of the trees and natural beauty. I would give this campground a 4.5 rating since there were a few things that definitely needed some upkeep and cleaning.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. This trip I was testing some gear from Matador Packable Adventure Gear. I tested out three products, The large nano towel, the droplet wet bag and the daylite 16 backpack. All products are very small in size. For example, the backpack and towel were not much bigger than a playing card and the droplet bag was about the size of a half dollar. The only issue I had ordering from their website was what product to choose!

Matador Day Light 16 Backpack

Pros:

  1. The size is definitely a bonus as you can store this bag inside of another bag, purse, backpack, etc. to have in case you need it for more storage. It is extremely light weight and has a small bag to carry it in when not in use. It really wasn’t much bigger than a water bottle when it was all folded up.
  2. I was skeptical at the size of the pack and wondering how much could this pack really hold. We went for a small hike around the lake - we were toting three kids, one of which was in a stroller. I was able to fit 5 diapers, a large bottle of suntan lotion, a pack of wipes, snack container, travel changing pad, Matador large NanoDry towel, Matador droplet wet bag and a bottle of milk on the side in the drink pocket. There was still plenty of room to spare.
  3. I was concerned with the strap size of the backpack as I have learned over the years I don’t like thinner strapped packs as they tend to dig into my armpits and shoulders. The straps were very thin as well as they are designed to be lightweight and breathable.
  4. The bag is waterproof! The zippers are water resistant and seal keeping the wet out and the dry in. When we were hiking it was very warm and I was definitely sweating. My bag stayed dry and so did everything in it. When we were packing up a severe thunderstorm rolled through. The bag was in the rain and I was surprised that everything inside was dry! The rain just rolled right off!
  5. It is very portable, light weight, the material is puncture proof, weather resistant and overall a great day pack for hiking, shopping, going to the beach, perfect for an amusement park or extra storage. It is extremely versatile.
  6. There are two side compartments for water bottles which are deep and stretchy. They definitely keep your bottles in tack and can even handle an umbrella without worry of it falling out.

Cons:

  1. I have broader shoulders and since it was a smaller pack it was a little bit of a struggle to get it on. I managed to shuffle myself into it with minimal struggle.
  2. The material is very slippery. It did make it a little difficult to fold it down and pack back into the pouch. Once you get it so small it would just start slipping around. After a few tries we got it back in with no problem.
  3. The thinner straps definitely started to dig into my armpits. I liked the breathable straps but think they should be a little wider.
  4. It would be nice if there was an inside pocket. I guess you could use the pouch it gets stored it when not in use but it would flop all around if your pack wasn’t full.
  5. There is not a lot of structure to the bag. Since the material is pretty thin whatever you pack in there you will feel sticking you if you don’t pack correctly.

Overall, I was very happy with the bag. It exceeded my expectations and am looking for any excuse to use this bag again!

Matador NanoDry Large Shower Towel

Pros:

  1. The size of the silicone travel case is extremely convenient. You could throw this in any bag on your way to the beach, gym, pool or shower. The towel itself folds down very easily and folds back into the silicone case with ease.
  2. I was absolutely AMAZED at the amount of water this towel can hold! I was able to shower and be completely dry - no damp areas whatsoever - and then I wrapped up my hair to dry. It held every drop of water - no leaks. I couldn’t believe how well it worked and will definitely be looking to purchase more! Plus, it was extremely quick drying! This towel is super duper thin. Once I hung it up it didn’t take long at all to dry!
  3. I love, love, love that it is antimicrobial too! It will stay fresher longer.
  4. The size of this towel is comparable to a normal shower towel. It is large enough to wrap around your body. Plus, it is extremely light weight. Once you open up your towel you will be amazed at how much it weighs. It is amazing how something so thin can absorb so much water!
  5. The carrying case has a carabiner clip to hang up or clip to your gear for convenience and maximum portability. There is a snap loop on the towel to hang up or use to wrap your hair up and clip to hold. Plus it is machine washable.

Cons:

  1. Even though the towel is a nice size it could still be a little bigger. My husband is 6’3” and he felt like he was using a dishcloth to dry himself off. It worked very well, but could offer an XXL possibly.
  2. The carabiner seemed a little cheaply made. I would definitely make an upgrade to a little heavier duty clip.

Honestly, this was the product that I had the most doubts about its performance and it turned out I ended up loving this the most. I love it so much in fact I will be purchasing more in the future. It’s Christmas in July right?

Matador Droplet Wet Bag

Pros:

  1. In real estate they say it is LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. When you are backpacking I think it is about the SIZE, SIZE, SIZE. Well, your problems have been answered with the droplet bag. This thing is tiny but packs a huge punch. This is small enough to fit on a keychain! It has a silicone pouch the bag fits into that you can carry virtually anywhere!
  2. The drawstring closure is a nice feature. Some drawstrings have bulky string that gets too bunched up and doesn’t allow the bag to fully close. That was not the case in this situation. The bag closed up tightly and even though the string is thin it seems strong.
  3. It keeps the wet in or out - depending on your needs. I used the bag to put our daughter’s wet diaper and onesie in after she splashed around in the lake. I then threw the bag into our Matador DL 16 backpack and it didn’t leak or get anything else in the bag wet. We also tried keeping the wet out. We went to an amusement park and went on the Sploosh ride. You know - basically the giant log flume ride but in a boat. So we had our phones and money in the droplet bag and went on the ride. WE WERE SOAKED! It was a lot of fun and our phones and money were safe and dry!

Cons:

  1. This is a key chain however the ring is very, very small. I have large hands for a girl - I can palm a basketball - and I had a very hard time trying to attach the ring to my bag. I would definitely recommend a little larger of a ring.
  2. I had to fold and refold the bag a few times in order to get it back into the droplet shaped case. It took me a couple of tries but I finally succeeded! It doesn’t look as nice as it did when it arrived but it works.
  3. The drawstring clip is a little small. (Remember, I have large hands for a girl) It kept slipping out of my fingers as I was trying to push the button down so I could draw the bag shut. I think you would have a hard time fitting a larger clip into the droplet bag once it is all folded up.

I definitely love the convenience of this product as you can clip it anywhere and go. You never know when you may need to keep something dry or have a bag for something wet. There is a large bag as well available which looks like it would be great for a family. I am overall extremely impressed with the quality, convenience, compactability and overall everyday use of Matador products. I look forward to expanding my collection for our future adventures! Please also check out my reviews on Macaroni Kid Reading under the Guides Tab / Day Trips and Destinations.

Small quiet family campground

Campground Review

This weekend we camped at Shady Grove Campground which is located at 65 Poplar Drive in Denver, Pennsylvania. This is approximately 20 miles outside of Reading in Lancaster County. The staff was friendly upon check in however we did not receive a list of events for the weekend. The camp store looks brand new and had a very small grocery section along with a few merchandise items. There was also ice cream bars available for purchase. Included in the office was a small game room which consisted of a pool table, foosball table and an arcade game. Located in the rear of the office was a very large pond for fishing and kayak, canoe or paddle boat rentals.

The campground itself was not overly large. There were seven sections for camping. One downfall is that every campsite is gravel. There was no grass at any site. This made it difficult for us to have our infant daughter crawl around all weekend. The campsites were also pretty close together. We were on a corner, site #57, directly across from the pool and playground area so there was a lot of traffic. Plus there was a light pole that was on all night so sitting by the fire you had to turn a certain way or you were staring at the light the whole time. You could purchase firewood here for $5 a bundle. However, the bundle only had five to six pieces of wood in them. This came out to about $1 a piece of wood. Luckily, the gentleman aside of us was leaving and he left us his firewood saving us a ton of money that literally would have just gone up in flames.

Our son did have a good time playing at the playground which was completely fenced in behind the pool. It had four slides, a rock wall, swings, seesaw, rocking horses and other ladders to climb up and over. There was also a nice open grassy area to play frisbee or catch in the playground area as well. Aside of the playground there was also a macadam basketball court. There was a pool also in the same area as the playground and basketball court. There was about a dozen lounge chairs and another dozen regular chairs to sit by the pool. There was also a small pavilion area to get out of the shade. There were no tables or umbrellas to sit by though which would have been nice. The pool was nice and clean however it was only 5 feet deep which is nice for children who would be able to stand. There was no lifeguard on duty and you had to be 16 to be there without supervision.

There was a pavilion near the back of the campground as well. According to the website there was supposed to be a family carnival however we didn’t know where to go since we didn’t receive any information about the event and nothing was posted in the office. I’m not actually sure if they had it or not. In case you don’t want to stay at the campground there are plenty of area attractions within a few minutes to an hour or two away. Stoudt’s Brewery is right down the road along with Maple Grove Raceway nearby, Site & Sound, Outlet Shopping and Antiquing as well. For a further drive you can also visit Hershey Park, Gettysburg and Dorney Park.

We had a full hook up at our campsite which consisted of water, sewer, trash, cable and wifi for $55/night which is a great price! Due to the full hook up we really didn’t use the bathrooms too much. They were pretty far away in the back corner of the campground. There were only four bathrooms that were a combination of a sink, toilet and shower with bench for clothing. My husband used the restroom on Friday night and he said on Sunday morning he could still see his sandal prints on the floor which meant no one had cleaned them all weekend. The campground was full too as there were alot of workers staying there full time due to the pipeline construction nearby. Everyone we met was very friendly and it was nice to meet people from different parts of the country.

This campground was also pet friendly. There was a very nice grassy area for dog walking. They were allowed in most areas except the office, pool, in the pond and the Deluxe Cabin #2 available for rent year round.

There are tent sites available for rent and also a rustic cabin and two deluxe cabins. Tent sites are $35/night and the cabins range from $90/night to $125/night. There is a $25 charge for pets in the rustic cabin and the Deluxe Cabin #1 on top of the rental fee. There are also seasonal sites available as well.

Our son was very excited to find his first painted rock as well at the campground. We posted it on Facebook to RVing Rocks and Sams Rocks as per the instructions on the back. It was a kitty and he just loves cats so he was pretty happy to show us his awesome find!

We had a great time camping with our family as usual however due to the gravel sites I would most likely look for another campground the next time we decide to camp nearby. Some people may like the gravel however due to having pets and young children it was definitely a downfall for us.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to test products. At Shady Grove, I tested the Trekz Titanium wireless stereo headphones by Aftershokz (I give the headphone 4.5 stars even though the campground only gets 3)

What I loved about camping with my Trekz:

  1. The first thing I noticed when ordering the sizing tool was not completely accurate. The instructions say if the white section of the sizing tool is touching your right ear to choose the Trekz Titanium Mini. If the orange section is touching your ear to choose Trekz Titanium. When I measured my head it was touching the orange section however when I received my Trekz they were definitely too big. I am able to make them work by wearing them more as a headband instead of around the back of the head as they were meant to be worn. So I was a little disappointed that the sizing was wrong. The packaging and shipping was excellent. They came so well packaged and protected there was no worry about any kind of damage during the shipment.
  2. They are extremely lightweight and comfortable on your head and ears. These are not like your traditional ear buds or sports headphones as they wrap around your ear for an open ear design. It makes you able to still hear what is going on around you which keeps you out of danger in your surroundings. Not only that but they are also sweat proof as they are designed for athletes.
  3. I loved that they offer several colors. I ordered the red/black but they also have grey/black, pink, blue/black, green/black in both the Trekz and Trekz Mini.
  4. The battery lasts for a long time. You can get six hours straight music. Not to mention you can also take phone calls as it also has a microphone. It has technology to cancel the background noise and focus on your voice so you come through crystal clear and not the wind or dog barking in the distance. This has been great for me in the car to be able to take phone calls since I don’t have onstar or any other bluetooth devices. The clarity of the music was fantastic as well. I have actually been using these in my car lately because my radio has a mind of its own and only works when it feels like it. These have been great because I can still hear traffic around me and I can make sure myself and everyone driving around me is safe. I can also wear them at work and still be able to communicate with my co-workers without missing a beat! (Pun intended!)

I will be definitely wearing my Trekz for walking my dogs, camping, driving, hiking, at work and traveling as much as I can in the future!

Quiet family oriented camp ground

There were a lot of events for everyone of all ages. The sites were a little close together but still plenty of room. The pool and playground were very clean and well taken care of. There was a huge wood pile and it was only $10 per wheelbarrow full. We had a great time relaxing as this is in the fields of Lancaster county. Very peaceful!

Quiet campground with its own cave

This campground is off the beaten path which we like. Best part was it had it's own cave! No playground for the kids but with the cave we didn't mind. This place is also about 20 to 30 minutes from Penn's Cave which is the only cave in Pa that you tour by boat. It was amazing!! There was a maze and a really nice gift shop. At the campground there was a decent store. We enjoyed the seclusion and definitely relaxed atmosphere. The game room definitely could use a little updating.

Nice campground but noisy from near by speedway

This place was great for kids as they have a very nice pool with three different slides into the deep end. It is a pretty steep walk down the hill if you are camping at one of the upper sites. Our site was nice however we were pretty close to the bathhouse and you could smell the sewer. Also, over summertime there is a near by speedway and all day long you could hear the drags in the distance. It got to be a little annoying. I would try this place again but definitely not near the bathhouses.

Quiet country campground

Very nice creek behind half of the sites. Lots of ducks to watch. Playground is nice and in the middle of the campground so no matter where you are it is not that far. Very large pond for fishing. Pool, arcade, nice little camp store. Bathrooms are decent although the showers could use a little updating. However, they get the job done. There is even a washer and dryer area. They have a lot of events for the kids which is great. Movie night, ice cream sundaes, there was a candy hunt that we attended. We love going here for a quick get away from home that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. Our dog's love it here too because they can play in the creek.

Peace and Quiet

I absolutely love camping here! If you want to be disconnected, literally because there is no cell service, then this is the place for you. Best of all it is free! You just have to get a pass from the office. We love going here because of the creek. You can fish, swim and just relax! Pets allowed and don't have to be on a leash. Campsites are not even any where near each other. It's like you have the whole forest to yourself! You have to be alert to make the turn into the mountains onto the dirt road. Up and around down the mountain into the valley has some really beautiful views. Love, love love!!!

Quarry nearby but still a nice place

We had a great time at this campground. There is a quarry close by so you could hear the trucks beeping and the noise from there but that was the only negative thing. Huge pond for fishing, miniature gold, nice indoor and outdoor pool and a kiddie pool. Goats to pet and watch. There are a lot of really neat and different rentals here like a tree house, double decker bus, among others. Nice playground for the kids and a small arcade. We had a great time and will definitely go back.

Camping at Knoebels

We have camped in our pop up but we have also rented the cabins here too. Either way is a great way to stay the weekend and enjoy the park. Restrooms are clean. Nice large sink to wash dishes. Single cabins have three double beds with two up top in the loft and one down below. I would suggest bringing an air mattress to sleep on as the mats are old and used.

Nice Family Campground

We camped here over Memorial Day weekend and it was full. Miniature golf course could use some upkeep as there was trash strewn throughout the course. There was a pond for swimming and there were dead fish. There was a craft show in the barn which was nice. Only two dump stations for a pretty large park. We would camp here again but not over a holiday.

Spacious Sites

All sites have a paved level area which made set up a breeze. Sites were not on top of each other. Bathrooms were very nice and clean with large showers. Nice area to wash dishes. Very nice playground area and clean.