Harpers Ferry with Kids
July 8, 2007 5:11 PM   Subscribe

Heading to Harpers Ferry, WV for three days next week. Here are the specifics: rented a KOA cabin for two nights, taking the wife and two kids -- 9-year-old boy and 19-month-old boy. Looking for suggestions on activities, sites to see, and -- by all means -- any fun campfire songs or recipes.
posted by Ike_Arumba to Travel & Transportation around Harpers Ferry, WV (11 answers total)
Beans and franks. Spice it up and load it with honey for some extra sweetness.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:48 PM on July 8, 2007

So one of my like favorite campfire songs of all time would have to be "mother gooneybird." Sung to the toon of "father abraham"...if you know that one.

Anyway, the verse is:
"Mother Gooneybird,
had 7 chicks,
and 7 chicks had Mother Gooneybird,
and they couldn't fly,
and they couldn't swim,
all they did was go like THIS

And then you tuck your right arm in like a chicken wing and flap it. Repeat verses with
"left arm, right leg (just sort of shake it around and trot like a chicken", left leg (same), shake-your-tush, and spin around."

Each time you keep doing what you were doing before, and each verse is a little louder than the last one. By the end you're shouting, flapping both arms like a chicken, trotting around, shaking your butt, and spinning in circles. 100% rediculous, but also awesome.

Also, "Gooneybird" is hullarious to say.

Also---welcome to West Virginia, be nice to our little state.
posted by TomMelee at 6:32 PM on July 8, 2007

For an ultra-sweet, gooey, and delicious dessert treat, make banana boats. It's handy if you don't trust kids with potentially flaming sticks when making smores. You will need:
up to 1 banana per person (adult-type peope will probably be happy with half)
Aluminum foil
a washcloth

Use a knife (or whatever) to peel back one section from the banana peel, ideally leaving it attached at the end.. The boat metaphor and general structural stability are best preserved if this is from the concave side of the banana, but it just doesn't matter.

Scoop out about 1/3 to 1/2 of the banana-meat (you won't need it again, so nibble). Replace that volume with alternating marshmallows and chocolate pieces. The type of chocolate is up to you, but darker chocolates cut down on the tooth-melting sweetness of the end product. I like them best with Scharffenberger bittersweet, personally.

Anyway, arrange away. If you want to cram some of the excised banana bits back in, feel free. Then replace the strip of banana peel, wrap the whole thing in foil, and chuck into the coals until squishy.

Unwrap, peel away the skin, enjoy.

For fancier versions, I've seen people add in all sorts of miscellaneous bits, from currants to gummy bears. Go nuts.
posted by janell at 6:52 PM on July 8, 2007

Oh, and the point of the washcloth will become evident as soon as you watch a kid eat a molten mixture of marshmallowy goo.
posted by janell at 6:54 PM on July 8, 2007

I camped at that same KOA last fall with my 12 year old son. The campground itself is quite the resort, there will be lots going on there on a summer weekend. Harper's Ferry Historical Park is good for an entire day. Beyond all the historical stuff (most of which is kid friendly) the Appalachian Trail runs right through the park. A 10 minute hike in one direction will take you to Jefferson Rock, which is a scenic spot where Thomas Jefferson made some remarks about the beauty of America. 5 minutes in the other direction will take you to a bridge where the AT parallels a train track as it comes out of a tunnel. You can stand on the bridge about 15 feet away from the trains as they come by. It;s very loud and might freak out the baby, but the 9 year old should love it. There are also several river outfitters in the area and the Potomac is fairly tame - a float trip would be fun, although you would probably have to leave the wife back with the baby. Nearby Brunswick has a cool train museum, although check the hours as they are odd. It was closed when we tried to visit. If the 9 year old is interested in history at all Antietam Battlefield is about 30 -45 minutes away and is generally considered the best preserved Civil War battlefield.
posted by COD at 7:17 PM on July 8, 2007

If you would like to bring bikes, the C&O Canal runs along the Potomac River (just cross the bridge beside the train track that COD mentioned and you are there) in Maryland.
The path very flat and usually very smooth, much of it is shaded, and is in between the rushing river and the now-swamp-like old canal. You'll usually see lots of small animals on the quieter sections (across from Shepherdstown, WV and around Brunswick, MD, for example).
It's great for walking along, too, but, in my opinion biking is best way to enjoy it.

And welcome to West Virginia.
posted by Silly Ashles at 8:04 PM on July 8, 2007

Also, as COD mentioned, walking around Harpers Ferry itself is a great way to spend a day.
There are many historical sites and mini-museums, as well as a lot of cute, unique shops (I loooved browsing them when I was a 9-year-old girl) and some great resturants and ice cream shops.
There is a very interesting wax museum about John Brown, but I went there on a school field trip when I was 9 or 10 and got creeped out. Y(child)MV.
posted by Silly Ashles at 8:19 PM on July 8, 2007

I imagine the 9 year old might have a lot of questions about slavery and the civil war if you visit the town, so you may want to read up on what happened there before you go.
posted by empath at 9:47 PM on July 8, 2007

I have a hard time imagining someone wouldn't know this already, but it's absolutely crucial to camping.



* bag of marshmallows
* Hershey's chocolate bars (you can use any brand that is thinner and breaks into pieces)
* graham crackers

Toast marshmallows over a campfire and place them on a graham cracker with a piece of chocolate. Take a second graham cracker and mash it on top to complete the s'mores. Let it melt for a few seconds. Be careful, toasted marshmallows will have very hot centers.

This was THE treat whenever I went camping as a kid. Well, I guess it still is. The only downside is giving kids chocolate near bed time. I wouldn't deny them the experience over that little quibble.
posted by jefeweiss at 4:02 AM on July 9, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks much of the Harpers Ferry info, everyone -- and the recipes too.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 4:14 AM on July 9, 2007

Swimming or drifting on giant tubes on the Shenandoah: I've never done it, but on nice days lots of people do in Harper's Ferry, and it looks like so much fun.

I also second visiting the historic sites and hiking at least as far as Jefferson Rock.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:28 AM on July 9, 2007

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