Chocolate has fascinated people for thousands of years.
The ancient Aztecs and Mayans believed that cocoa beans had “magical and even divine properties suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death,” according to Smithsonian Magazine.
And while drinks made from ground and roasted cocoa beans were too bitter for the early Spanish explorers, Europeans soon came up with the idea of mixing cocoa with sugar and milk to create the sweet drinks and other confections that have converted millions of people across the globe into chocoholics.
America’s family owned and operated campgrounds, for their part, are increasingly coming up with their own ways to celebrate everyone’s insatiable chocolate cravings with chocolate-themed weekends that involve everything from chocolate chip cookie, chocolate pie or chocolate pudding eating contests to tug of war games with slippery ropes that are doused in chocolate. Growing numbers of campgrounds even offer chocolate Slip N Slides.
“I think everybody has a sweet tooth in them somewhere,” said Vicki Cole, who co-owns the Shelby Mansfield KOA in Shelby, Ohio with her husband, Garry. Their park’s chocolate themed activities are scheduled for June 29 and include a chocolate chip cookie eating contest; a chocolate Slip N Slide; a Hershey’s kiss hunt; and a chocolate milk chug a lug.
Amy Ahlgren, who manages the Pride of America Camping Resort in Pardeeville, Wis., said her park’s chocolate Slip N Slide event on the weekend of June 7 - 9 draws as many adult participants as it does children. “It’s one of our most popular events,” she said, adding that her park uses big barrels filled with chocolate syrup for its chocolate Slip N Slide games.
“People get so covered in chocolate syrup that we close our bathrooms and the swimming pool and ask everyone to go wash off in the lake,” she said.
Pride of America also has an ice cream sundae building contest with all of the fixings as part of its chocolate themed activities. “There are two troughs and the first trough to be finished wins,” Ahlgren said, adding, “The best part is they get to eat the ice cream.”
At Vista Royalle Campground in Bancroft, Wis., the chocolate-themed weeks are so popular the campground offers two of them, the first on June 7 - 9 and the second from June 22 - 24. Activities include a chocolate eating contest and a flashlight Tootsie Roll hunt.
The same holds true for the Hayward KOA in Hayward, Wis., which has two chocolate themed weekends on June 21 and Aug. 2. Events include a chocolate pudding eating contest; a chocolate Slip N Slide; and an adults only chocolate pool party.
Here’s a sampling of chocolate themed weekends taking place at other campgrounds across the country:
— Camp River’s Edge, Connellsville, Penn., June 21: Activities include a chocolate Slip N Slide and a flashlight candy hunt. A prize is also given for guessing how many chocolates are in the jar at check in. www.campriversedge.com
— Delaware Jellystone in Lincoln, Del., June 28 - 30: Human sundae contest; chocolate pudding wrestling; hot chocolate and marshmallows tug-o-war; sweetheart dance with a DJ and chocolate fountain. www.delawarejellystone.com
— Jellystone Park at Pine Lakes in Pittsfield, Ill., June 8 - 9: Candy bar bingo; chocolate balloon toss; chocolate wrestling; chocolate Slip N Slide; and chocolate pie eating contest. www.jellystonepinelakes.com
— Jellystone Park in Silver Lake, Mich., Aug. 2 - 4: See who can fit the most chocolate kisses into their mouth before an ooey gooey mess explodes; slide down the chocolate river; sweetheart dance; and sweetheart couple award. www.silverlakejellystone.com
— Meadville KOA in Meadville, Penn., June 22: Activities include candy bar bingo; a free ice cream social with Marcie’s homemade hand-dipped ice cream with all the fixings; and an after dark chocolate hunt. www.meadvillekoa.com
— Mountain Vista Campground, East Stroudsburg, Penn., Aug. 9 - 11: Send a Chocolate Gram to your special camper; chocolate kiss hunt; chocolate lover’s bingo; dancing and classic rock provided by The Jumpstart Band. www.mountainvistacampground.com
— Pioneer Campground, Laporte, Penn., July 19 - 21: Events include a flashlight candy bar hunt, a Death by Chocolate potluck party, candy bar bingo, and an M & M guessing game. www.pioneercampground.com
— Sun N Fun RV Resort in Sarasota, Fla., Aug. 9 - 11: Events include a chocolate Slip N Slide; candy bar bingo; a chocolate pie eating contest; chocolate finger painting; and chocolate games. www.sunnfunfl.com
— Tall Pines Campground in Bainbridge, N.Y., July 19 - 25: Events include a chocolate pudding Slip N Slide; candy dish painting; a chocolate pie eating contest; chocolate crafts; and a chocolate fondue party. www.tallpinescampground-ny.com
— Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park at Mammoth Cave in Cave City, Ky., July 15 - 21: Chocolate Slip N Slide; candy bar bingo; chocolate tug-o-war; wrestle in chocolate pudding; and paint with chocolate pudding. www.jellystonemammothcave.com