Take your April Fool’s Day Pranks to the Next Level: Camping
Kelty March 29, 2018

The man, the myth, the legend himself: Dick Kelty

5 Amazing April Fool’s Day Pranks to Play On Your Campmates


If you’re doing life right, there’s at least one serial prankster in your circle of friends. You know the type: every gathering presents opportunities to pull one over on somebody new, and every moment that passes between shenanigans just increases the chances that the next prank will catch everyone unawares.

Our founder Dick Kelty was SO MUCH THAT GUY. So, in honor of April Fool’s Day, we’d like to share two of his favorite camping pranks, along with two other tried-and-true tricks we’ve played on various innocents over the years. Fair warning: we’ve listed them in order of increasing shock value, so be sure to consider your audience before deploying on a mixed-age (or mixed-anxiety-level) group.


Elk Duds 

(for all ages)

Dick absolutely loved a gross-out gag, and this was his favorite camping prank to play on kids. He’d start by bragging about his vast knowledge of “animal sign,” which is just a nice way saying “I can tell a critter by its poop.” KIDS LOVE THAT, BTW. He’d talk about various local wildlife, what their scat looked like, and which animals the kiddos were likely see near the campsite. Then he’d send them off to look for scat.

 With the kids occupied, he’d then sprinkle Milk Duds or chocolate-covered raisins—both of which are passable approximations of deer and elk sign—in a messy pile near the campsite. Then he’d look busy until one of the kids excitedly discovered the pile. When asked his opinion about their wild visitor, Dick would pop one of the “droppings” into his mouth, rolling it around thoughtfully on his tongue whilst pretending to discern the species.

 TIP: be sure to give any prop scat a test sniff before putting it in your mouth. Dude. Really.


Tent Snake

(for kids and teens)

Dick also loved a good campsite scare. He’d wait until his friends had set up their tent and left it totally unattended, then run a length of knotted rope diagonally underneath it, from corner to corner (concealed from exterior view, of course). Then he’d wait until they were nodding off, and then slowly pull the rope out. Running the rope diagonally ensures that everyone in the tent can share the…thrill…of having one’s tent invaded by snakes under cover of darkness.

TIP: The rope should be thin enough that any lumps will covered by sleeping pads and bags, and anyone stepping on it will think it’s a harmless twig. This maximizes the element of surprise in the wee hours.


Beer-Pitcher Bear
(for teens and above)

It may not surprise you that many of our Kelty cohorts have had past lives as camp counselors. Some of us have moved on…others, let’s just say there’s a reason we all work at a place like Kelty. This prank was born right here in the Colorado high country, during a teens-only campout at C Lazy U Ranch.

All you need is a standard ribbed plastic beer pitcher, either from Amazon or borrowed from your bartender friend—don’t pretend you don’t have at least one. Start by laying some casual groundwork with discussions of basic bear safety and funny bear-related anecdotes (or, victim hardiness permitting, a scary bear story or two) from past trips. Feel free to make these up…you’re setting the mood!

 Before everybody goes to bed, choose your victims (ideally, folks who have brought a change of undies) and make sure everybody else is on board with the plan. Then, immediately after lights-out—the critical moment is when everything has been silent for about five minutes—start by shuffling around in the trees or brush near your victim’s tent. Use slow, heavy, sweeping steps. Definitely don’t try to be quiet.

A bear’s nose is more sensitive than a bloodhound’s—so next, you’ll do some nice heavy snuffling into your pitcher. You should still be a few feet away from the tent, but we guarantee you’ll have the occupants’ attention. If you can hear your victims freaking out, it’s the perfect time for the grand finale: a deep, throaty growl into your makeshift amp while nudging the side of the tent with your body.

 TIP: have a friend ready to film your victims as they burst out of the tent and run screaming into the woods.


Campfire Creeps
(for the person who pranked you last year)

Campfire stories are a point of pride here at Kelty. While it’s not exactly a job requirement, many of us have spent decades lovingly refining our long-after-dark yarns, with the goal of making at least one person question his or her need to pee in the middle of the night. One Keltyan (who refused to be named—she’s mysterious like that) shared her favorite creepy campfire tale…and how she tells it.

 On the last night of any given camping trip, she loves to tell the story of Karen, who, as a young woman, hiked a remote part of the Appalachian Trail with her good friend Georgia. The trail was peaceful and virtually empty; they heard some nearby noises at night, but only saw other hikers when they got close to the town where they decided to split up. As planned, the two young women spent a relatively uneventful week hiking and camping together before Georgia left the trail to head back home.

Georgia had a nice film camera, so she let Karen keep it for the solo leg of her trip; the girls planned to rendezvous a week later in their hometown to share the developed pictures. This being the analog age, they joked about not having any pictures of them together, because there was nobody to take them! Karen continued on for another week, hiking and camping alone in the quiet Appalachian wilderness. She often had a feeling of being watched, but chalked it up to her imagination and lack of companionship.

 When, after the trip, the girls looked through the rolls of film, they were chilled to see multiple pictures of themselves together, taken from a slight distance. There were also pictures of Karen alone…asleep.

 TIP: Put your own spin on the story, with lots of spooky details. Then pick one particularly susceptible victim to take a few selfies with on the last night of your trip. Pocket their camera and get a few creepy-sleeper pics before slipping it back into their pocket for them to discover…someday.


Beer Mule

(For the adults)

Not so much a prank as it’s just common sense. When your pals aren’t looking, stuff a couple extra cans of beer (or wine, thank you Underwood) in their pack, and bury it under some clothing, etc. We figure you can get at least half way before they discover the extra weight they’ve been carrying. And how could they be mad? More beer = more fun.


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