Funded by fees collected from hunting and fishing licenses, the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls offers free programs for “pre-K to gray,” according to director Thea Miller Ryan. With land and facilities maintained by Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation, classes are taught and organized by South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. To alter the indoor trend creating “nintendodos,” Ms Ryan says the solution is to blend the best of technology to increase knowledge with age appropriate hands on activities, like making smacos.
Open year round, all classes at the Outdoor Campus are free and cover a diverse range of activities and skills from camping basics, hunting, fishing, ecology, care for wildlife, kayaking, birding to outdoor cooking. Classes are taught at all skill and age levels, and groups of ten or more can arrange specialized instruction. With three rivers and over 185 lakes, South Dakota has much to offer an outdoor enthusiast.
The parkland of the Outdoor Campus includes a certified butterfly habitat, wetlands, a small lake, trails to wander and picnic tables. Given the short summers in the northern midwest, South Dakotans flock to the outdoors for cookouts on warm days. On a recent evening, Visit Sioux Falls organized a classic cookout complete with strip steak, baked potatoes and crisp fresh salads catered by the appropriately named Meat Lodge – this is the land of corn fed cattle.
The desserts, though, were pure Outdoor Campus and just the item to keep active kids engaged during a family picnic or make jaded travel writers giggle – Outdoor ice cream and Smacos. Simple, inexpensive ingredients are used in making these fun variations on classic comfort foods. Yet, just like with the Outdoor Campus, given a little creativity, these desserts could grow up with additions and substitutions. Try Nutella and sliced almonds instead of peanut butter and chocolate chips in the Smacos, or add half a teaspoon instant espresso powder plus a total of four tablespoons sugar for coffee ice cream.
Outdoor Ice Cream
- 1 cup half & half or heavy cream (preferable)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons chocolate, strawberry or other syrup
- ice cubes or crushed ice
- 1/2 cup rock salt for ice cream freezing
- Place ingredients, except ice and salt, in a zip lock bag and carefully express as much air as possible from the bag.
- Fill a half gallon plastic container – make sure it has a tight fitting lid – with ice and rock salt
- Push zip lock bag into the ice mixture and cover with lid.
- Shake back and forth for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove bag and quickly immerse in a bowl of cold water to rinse off the salt.
- Quickly dry the bag with paper towel, open and spoon the ice cream into two bowls.
The following recipe for Smacos is for one serving.
- peanut butter
- mini marshmallows
- chocolate chips
- 6 inch or 8 inch soft flour tortilla
- 12 inch X 12 inch square of aluminum foil
- Spread a thin layer of peanut butter on a soft flour tortilla
- Cover with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips
- Fold the tortilla to encase the filling
- Wrap aluminum foil around the tortilla
- Place on a grill or directly onto hot charcoal and grill for 45 seconds to one minute per side. Unwrap and remember that the filling will be hot.
Whether it’s learning about the migration of the Monarch butterfly, fly fishing or roasting Smacos, the Outdoor Campus, South Dakota and Sioux Falls commit to their residents and visitors that time spent will be worthwhile and make you smile.