Camp Fire Fun

Camp Fire Girl bars doneAs a Girl Scout, I learned how to build a fire without wadded up newspaper as fuel, but I can’t say my outdoor cooking skills advanced apace. I used to wrap refrigerator rolls around sticks and toast them over the fire. Raw inside and burned outside, I gleefully spooned jelly over the top and ate these so-called dough boys for breakfast. No plate needed. Some of my friends joined a different group, Camp Fire,to go on outings and learn outdoor skills. Judging from the 1970s-era Camp Fire Celebrates Food and Friendship cookbook I bought at a flea market, they had better snacks and meals: pizzas, cheese corncobs, pumpkin and chocolate brownies, no-cook candy.

Camp Fire Girls flag - Harvard Univ

Source: Harvard University Schlesinger Library

Campfire started out as a girls’ group in 1910, with an unusual policy at the time of accepting members of all races. In 1975, it became co-ed. Campfire, Inc.’s official site gives a fun look back at some of the history. Councils from around the country contributed recipes to the cookbook.

Back to school time makes me nostalgic for lunchbox treats so I decided to adapt these Oatmeal Crunch Bars from the Golden Heart group in Fairbanks, Alaska by making a half batch and adding a handful of dried cranberries. The chocolate layer makes the bars seem more like a dessert than a healthy snack, but that’s no reason to complain. I wrapped a batch in foil and brought them in my lunchbox to share at work, even without a campfire.

Camp Fire Oatmeal Crunch Bars (1970s)
Makes 24 bars
Camp Fire Girl bars in progress





1/3 cup peanut butter
1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips mixed with 1 tablespoon peanut butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8-by8-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter with all remaining ingredients, in order, except the chocolate chips. Mix well (you may find it easier to mix with your hands at first).
  3. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  4. In a saucepan or in the microwave at 30-second intervals, melt together the chocolate and peanut butter. Blend well. Spread over the bars and let cool until firm.
  5. Cut into bars.

About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers. Somehow I ended up with a cooking gene that I brought with me from Richmond, Virginia to my current home in Boston, Massachusetts. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir and a novel. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and other American recipes with a past.
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2 Responses to Camp Fire Fun

  1. I will definitely try this recipe. When I was about five, I got so excited by one of those Camp Fire girl commercials on TV (“Sing around the campfire, join the Camp Fire girls”) that I started packing my suitcase to run away and join the Camp Fire girls. I wasn’t unhappy or anything, I just thought it looked like fun. Fortunately, my grandmother stopped me in time. 😉


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