Re: Summer Camp Mess Halls
Mon, 15 Jun 1992 12:45:00 EDT
Patrol cooking is my preferred way of camping but my experience is that most
units don't want take time for it -- translate that to aren't organized
enough, don't have the skills, are too lazy, or any of a number of real
One solution that seemed to me to be a good option was for units to prepare
one or two meals a day and have the others in the dining hall. My
preference was lunch in the dining hall and cook our own breakfast and
supper. Although it has been several years since I was on a camp staff
(I've worked at 21 different camps in 16 different councils), most councils
seemed willing to accommodate the patrol cooking unit and I am sorry to hear
that yours isn't one of those.
I attended National Camping School several times as a student and the one I
enjoyed most was a patrol cooking operation out of St. Louis Area. There
was more patrol spirit in that operation than any other -- it was an
incredible experience. When I heard that it was patrol cooking, I had some
doubts but they really sold me. I think the thing that made it work for our
patrol was that we all knew that we had to pitch in to make the schedule
work. The menu was selected to make preparation time minimal--cold lunches,
soup the day it rained!! Some suppers were low prep, a couple were super
meals. We had a couple of campwide picnics that were "catered." The last
morning was a great buffet breakfast with enough food that you could take a
snack for the road.
The other side of the story is that while patrol spirit was extremely high,
we didn't have the same level of camp spirit that we did in the dining hall
schools. And, I don't know how the faculty felt about it. I was only in
dining hall camps when I was on the faculty, or maybe at least one of those
camps was a patrol cooking camp that converted a storage area (barn) for
dining hall feeding of the camp school. (That was Winnebago Council camp
near Charles City, Iowa -- someone might know the facts on that.)
After all this rambling, I guess I'll make my point that both methods (and
possibly others) should be considered and used. I never liked heater stacks
(Indianhead Council camp near Rice Lake Wisconsin and Mid-Iowa Council camp
near Boone Iowa). Both had other options and I don't know their current
mode of operations. The Saginaw Bay Area council camp near Harrison, Mich,
had one of the nicest setups I remember. Each patrol site was well equipped
(an important factor if you want success) and they cooked one meal a day
(five a week). Camp Rotary was right out of the Engineering Services manual
on equipment and buildings.
My old units (Troops 4 and 6 in St. Joseph, MO) went to a dining hall camp
for variety. Both troops camped and cooked as patrols 11 months out of the
year. Once a year we took a break for the summer camp dining hall. We
sometimes even did a week of patrol cooking on a high adventure expedition.
I did note that someone mentioned the health and safety aspects. As
director of the National Cooking and Baking Contest at the 1977 Jamboree, I
know that food handling and storage can be a problem. My experience with
the average troop is that they don't take health and safety into
consideration. They probably get away with it most of the time, but a camp
would attract a lot of negative attention with a health and safety problem.
Did I make a point here?? One last note before I send this: I hope that you
consider lots of different cooking methods. I think that one should use raw
materials for some meals, dehydrated or other trail format for others, and
some preprepared items that you can find on the usual supermarket shelf for
others. You also need to use different utensils: the normal pots and pans,
dutch ovens, homemade cookers, "no utensils" approaches, bean pots, etc.
Variety is the spice of life--and of good cooking.
Gee, I just thought of another one. A Denver Area Camp (Peaceful Valley)
used to have a good outpost adventure where units cooked according to a
theme. They also did patrol cooking during the week. Don't know their
Concho Valley Council (Camp Sol Meyer) gave units the option to bring their
own food and eat the evening meal in the dining hall. That was a nice way
for some units to save on costs.
Midnight Sun Council out of Fairbanks had patrol cooking when I was there.
They also had ice on the bottom of their lake. Take your choice!!
Too much rambling on one of my favorite topics. Hope you can work out
something that works for everyone!!!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City