Cliffs of the Neuse State Park

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park will have a campfire cooking series in June, with a cookoff June 28.

With the summer temperatures heating up the house, who wants to heat it up even more by cooking in the kitchen?

Cliffs of the Neuse State Park has an alternative for that — campfire cooking.

The park rangers will conduct a series of four campfire cooking classes June 7, 14, 21 and 28 at 6 p.m. at the overlook amphitheater.

“We will discover several different methods to cooking on the campfire, and the difficulty of what we’re learning on the campfire is going to get progressively involved each time,” said Ranger Autumn Hamm.

Session one will be roasting over the fire. Session two will be cooking in foil. Session three will be Dutch oven cooking. And session four will be a free-style cookoff competition among participants. Rangers will be the instructors.

“During the free-style cookoff, participants get to do potluck style and do whatever they desire,” Hamm said. “If they are a fan of the good old hot dog on a stick, they can do that. If they really found interest in the tinfoil, they can do that. Or if they’re fancy and they’ve got their Dutch oven, they can do it that way.

“It will be judged among the participants and by the rangers here that day. It will be a cookoff and a celebratory event to finish off the series.”

The park will provide food and supplies for the first three programs.

But for the cookoff, participants need to supply their own food.

“If they’re cooking in aluminum foil or just roasting, we will have a fire going,” Hamm said. “But if they use a Dutch oven for the cookoff, they will have to bring their own coals. If they get hung up at the cookoff, rangers will help them with tips on how to finish out their meal.”

The campfire cooking series is for anybody. But if it’s a child, he or she needs to have a responsible adult accompany him because there will be a fire. The whole family can attend, too.

“We’ve done the Dutch oven cooking program, and that has been very well attended in the past,” Hamm said. “We’ve had a bunch of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that are interested. Whenever we finish those, we have people who say they had never thought about cooking that way. It’s a new experience for them.

“It also gets people into a different section of the park. We see a lot of people at the swim lake and on the trails. But there aren’t as many people using the picnic area.”

Hamm said there is a grill at every picnic table in the picnic area.

“So anything that you learn in this experience, you’ll be able to use on your own within the park,” she said. “And they can also use it at home if they’re doing a backyard cookout. And Scouts can take it back to their troop and teach the rest of the boys or girls. A lot of scouting is becoming leaders and teaching your peers, so even if somebody comes as a family, the children can still take what they learn to their troop and teach them.”

The campfire cooking series is free, however registration is required by calling the Cliffs at 919-778-6234. When you register for the first lesson, you are registered for all four.