One of the reasons Scouts enjoy camp is that they to cook for themselves, patrol by patrol. We provide the raw ingredients, cooking instructions and minimal supervision.
Given that the boys are aged 10 – 13, it is quite marvellous that they have the confidence to cook for each other and for the leaders. This is why we make it a point that that however bad the dish has turned out, it is still our duty to eat it and to provide encouragement in the form of highlighting the good parts of the meal: perhaps the table was set nicely, the conversation was interesting, the meat or eggy bread was burnt only on one side.
The dinners are designed to be simple to cook yet tasty to eat. It almost follows the late chef Antonio Carluccio’s motto MOF MOF: Minimum of Fuss, Maximum of Flavour.
What the boys cooked this year follows a simple pattern set every year. I don’t think they remember from summer camp to summer camp that the menu has not changed, and thankfully we too do not remember from year to year how many things can go wrong with an ostensibly foolproof dish.
I do not have many photos of the breakfasts or dinners because the boys are always hungry and eat as soon as the food is on the table. Once or twice I managed a quick photo. Lunch is always a picnic with sandwiches, fruit, chocolate biscuits and crisps. We eat wherever we happen to be, usually on a hike or on an activity.
The breakfasts: cereal and milk, followed by eggy bread which is the favourite, bacon, sausages, eggs, pancakes. There is a record for the number of half slices of eggy bread eaten which I think is 22 or 26. This year the record holder managed 19 half slices.
There are days when we cook breakfast centrally, in order to allow the boys more time to prepare for an early start. Besides cooking, the boys also have to do their own washing up, which all takes time.
The dinners: we always start with pasta and bolognaise sauce on the first day of camp. The other days we had lamb tagine with apricots and cous cous, chicken in a pot with celery, potatoes and carrots, salmon teriyaki with noodles, home-made burgers and chips, chicken fajitas with mixed peppers and a pork casserole.
On one of the nights later into the week, the Scouts have their Special Meals where they can cook whatever they want, subject to a cost restraint of £5 per head. This year many of the patrols chose to cook fish as we were on an island. Desserts included strawberry oreo sandwiches, oranges in a caramel sauce and strawberries dipped in chocolate. Even if the results are not polished, the most important point was achieved, which is that boys really enjoyed making this food.
For our own special meal, where we invited local friends and the campsite manager, we had a starter of locally caught crab with buttered bread and platter of a mozarella, tomato and fresh basil. We then had barbecued steak, roasted vegetable, parmesan and basil tart, potatoes and salad. All finished with a huge bowl of strawberries, meringue and cream.
We too set our table. It was a bit of a squash but we managed to all fit in
Sometimes at camp we celebrate a Scout’s birthday with a card and a cake
It takes a lot of food to feed this number of people. We now rely on a golf buggy to help carry the food to and from the campsite, which is located up a hill
My scouting days are coming to an end. After 18 years of serving this is a good time to retire. I have enjoyed all aspects of being a helper, leader, trainer and group administrator. However the aspect I loved most and the one that kept me going for so long is that of seeing the boys enjoy the meals they have cooked. They will certainly have a lot of life skills gained from scouting and I hope they continue to cook when they leave home and when they start their own families. People who eat together sure will stay together, this is the same for the Scouts as well as for the leaders.