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Bite Size Memoir No. 5

CampingCamping at Birch Lake

The year K. turned 16 we pitched our rain impervious tents among white pines in Wisconsin. We had Birch Lake to ourselves so we set the dogs loose until they ran so hard that one began to pant like a wheezy old tractor.

Over an open flame, we grilled steaks marinated in Tabasco and tequila, and baked a cherry dump cake for K. in the Dutch oven. Camping is remembered for the food, and that year was the best menu if you ask the kids. It was the best fishing if you ask T.

Smelling of campfire, we drove from Birch Lake to Northland College where we dropped off A. for her first year. If you ask me, it was the best camping trip because it was the last year we camped with all three kids while they were yet kids.

I can still see them posing on the felled tree like it was yesterday.


Join memoirist, Lisa Reiter, as she encourages other writers take a bite out of camping memories this week. #Bitesizememoir at Sharing the Story.

A., B. and K. on Camping Trip to Birch Lake, 2007

A, B & K


  1. Lisa Reiter says:

    Aw Charli – this is lovely. Thanks for sharing a sense family with us and this terrific photo. As for the creative cooking – that might make a topic in itself – what on earth is a dump cake? – I clearly need a ‘dutch’ oven too because I’m missing out!

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think I’ll post a dump cake recipe this Friday! Lots of questions on that one! 🙂 And yes, get a Dutch oven…best way to cook over open flames or even bury in the coals.

  2. Norah says:

    What a group of gorgeous kids! I share your sentiment about the best times being the family times. Nothing can compare in my opinion. I am not a camper, but this seems like such a wonderful experience. I’m with Lisa and her dump cake question. It doesn’t sound so good from over here!!! I’m sure it was, it’s just that dump would not be used in association with a cake here.

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thanks, Norah! They are such splendid kids and that really was our last family outing with “kids.” But I sure enjoy them as adults, too. Let me assure you that “dump” refers to dumping all the ingredients in at once and nothing more sinister. I’ll post the recipe Friday.

  3. Annecdotist says:

    Lovely family memory, Charli. I’m trusting you on the yumminess of dump cake. Your cooking sounds a lot more adventurous than ours was, which was mostly out of tins.

    • Charli Mills says:

      My dad had summer logging camps when I was growing up and he cooked all our dinners over a campfire. He was amazingly adventurous for a cowboy-turned-logger, but then again, many ranch and logging cooks were that way and created spectacular meals in the wild west. I guess I inherited a gourmet buckaroo sense to campfire cooking. We ate out of tins by the last day, though.

  4. […] Charli Mills – USA  – Camping at Birch Lake […]

  5. […] In 2007 my family camped in the northern forests of Wisconsin at Birch Lake. My kids were still kids then, as my eldest, Allison, was perched to fly the family coop. Kyle, the youngest was turning 16 and Brianna was going into her senior year of high school. It was trip that stirred my memory of fun family times in my Bite Size Memoir No. 5. […]

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