Monday, July 20, 2020

Cooking For A Crowd

A regular part of my life for the last 15 years has been a martial arts camp I attended every summer. From my early days as a white belt when I couldn't figure out how to fall down, up to last summer when I tested for a senior rank, this was something I looked forward to. The final decision, after postponing, has been made. This year it will not happen.

It had always been more than the practice sessions. They are the primary activity in camp taking up 6 to 8 hours a day, but they are not camp itself.

It was the camp infrastructure. A 1930s CCC camp run and rented by the S.C. State Parks. Completely run down, no air conditioning, hardly any electricity outside the main buildings and mess hall, no screens, cold outdoor showers. A perfect camp for an old Boy Scout to feel at home.

It was the people. From all over the country we would gather, all sort of backgrounds, all different ages, from high school to retirees, with a shared love of the art and the camp experience. I have made bonds with with some friends as close as any family.

We brought in all the supplies and cooked all our own meals. And it wasn't hot dogs on a stick. It was a stocked out pantry and walk-in refrigerator. Make what you want for breakfast and lunch, a cup of coffee and bowl of fruit, or a full on western omelet with bacon and grits. Just clean up after.

The evening meals were a full production made by a volunteer crew under the camp cook's leadership. You sign up for a meal and a clean-up once during the week. These pictures are from a Tuesday night, making Mongolian barbeque for a hundred people. Prep out all the components, then cook it a couple of pans at a time and mix it all in big serving trays. Serve with rice.



8 comments:

Glen Filthie said...

Looks like fun, ASM!!!

Beans said...

Some of the best times I had in the SCA was working in the kitchen all weekend with my wife, cooking with a small crew for 100-150 people.

Show up, clean everything, unload food, prep, cook, clean, prep, cook, clean.

Fun times.

Hitting people was better, but not by much.

Old NFO said...

Sorry it's not happening. But I'm sure the fun was had, in addition to the bumps/bruises...

Ken said...

That's pretty neat. Not quite the same thing, but one of the things that I like best about amateur short-track speed skating (my younger son skates) is that most of the meet officials (timekeepers, finish judges, starters, etc.) are family-member volunteers (I'm a judge and occasional timekeeper). Every family pitches in on the potluck in the volunteer room at the meet too (and we have a table full of fruit, water, and PBJs for the skaters at rinkside).

LSP said...

I love that.

1930s? My mind goes back to nights spent in prewar barracks somewhere in England. Of course the kitchens weren't as good as yours!

ASM826 said...

The kitchen was renovated in the 1970s. Stainless steel sinks and prep areas, new industrial stove. Most of the rest of it is untouched. I had hundreds of photos. I found the history of the park and the building of the camp in the S.C. state archives online.

libertyman said...

The event and all the happy memories are sadly a victim of this Covid 19 business.

Looks like a great bunch.

Beans said...

A lot of Scout or Church camps are like that. Unimproved buildings but the kitchen is improved because of health standards.

Fond memories of many a nice rustic scout and church camps. Ah, the golden days of my youth...