Camp Make-Do

The Perc

  1. Pack your kitchen bag days in advance.
  2.  Make sure you remember the batteries you forgot last trip.
  3. Forget that the percolator is still in the dishwasher.
  4. Drive 4.5 hours to the Adirondacks to set up camp for 4 days.

You know this story—and if you live on coffee, you will never forget it. The moment you paw through the food locker looking for something in the tote of tools, you realize that the coffee pot that should be there is not there. Your mind plays a sideshow of all the last places it has been. You’ll need a good excuse to tell that person wrestling with the tent poles because You know what? Let’s not do coffee this weekend is just not going to cut it.

4:30 pm in Vermont rural parlance means “closed” or “closing”. We need to get to a general store fast. We drive to a nearby gas station, but they do not have emergency coffee makers for sale. The clerk suggests the Ace Hardware* in downtown Inlet. We choose the cheaper option of a Melita cup filter over a replacement pot and head back to camp.


I bought this pot at a yard sale for $1. Fortunately, I also remembered to bring it with me

Turns out, boiling a pot of water is easier than boiling a pot of coffee. And seriously, who washes a pot that just boils water?


  1. Pack your kitchen bag days in advance.
  2. Agree on the necessary menu and kitchen items.
  3. Assume he’s packed the griddle you ALWAYS use to cook on.
  4. Sleep to a lullaby of loon calls and wake knowing there’ll soon be hot coffee.

When you rouse, you wander around to the food locker to bring about breakfast. But you discover this too—the griddle is not in the trunk. Nor is the cast iron skillet anywhere in sight. And there is not enough coffee on hand to make this situation right.

Ours is not a stick and foil operation. We are gas stove chefs.

“Why don’t we go into town and buy a fry pan,” he suggests. You catalog the weekend’s menu, and the cost/benefit of an additional expense and decide against it.

“I’ll cook everything in this,” you say, pointing to the 2 qt pot that now boils water for coffee. “I can do eggs and bacon in this.”

“But what about pancakes?” We only eat pancakes when we camp.

“I’ll use the dutch oven lid,” you say. “We’re camping…we’ll make do.”

He brought the dutch oven for a dish he was making. I convinced him that the lid was meant to double as a griddle.

He brought the dutch oven for a dish he was making. I convinced him that the lid was meant to double as a griddle.

You love the craft of making-do that you just might camp this way forever.

*This store is an amazing amalgam of tourist, homeowner, and outdoorsy merchandise. It is a true lifesaver, minus the life jackets.


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