Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Cooking For Camp



First pans on: no time for photographing after this!


The first thing the grown ups say is ‘Remind me again why I’m doing this?’

The team leaders are thinking of the 5am wake ups, the number of times one child can lose a shoe, or need the toilet, or answer your question about where did you put your shoe with an anecdote about a hamster.
(The shoe will be in the first place they looked for it, but not until you look for it too.
Shoes are magic like that.)

This year I am not team leading: I am on the kitchen crew. I don’t know what it is that I should be wondering why I’m doing it, it’s never been done by me before.

Everyone should have a try at kitchen crew in order to fully appreciate the work that goes on to get the masses fed and the dishes washed. It starts and ends with heavy lifting. I’ve seen the bespoke field oven and the fry table and the gas bottles in place every year and never thought they were easy to shift about. Closing gap between knowledge and experience brings a nice practical sort of wisdom but can also hurt your arms.

Luckily the ironman chefs do the heaviest lifting - I secured the job of pressing the button to make the hire van lift go up and down. Not so taxing on the arms, which meant that they were available to assist with egg cracking, mixture whisking, bread dipping, eggy-bread flipping, hot oil splashing (sorry about that…) bacon sizzling, mushroom sifting, potato jiggling, water fetching, tea bag locating, spare spoon finding, fry-table scraping, scrubbing and eye wiping.

It was volcanically hot. I regretted the thermal socks but at 5am, before the burners were lit, it was cold.

First perk of this job is the sitting down afterwards.
I think my forehead may actually have been steaming.

Then there is the trip to the shops to top up lunch supplies. It comes with coffee and cake.

The opportunity to shower off grease is a half perk because the ‘shower’ is a trickle of water that requires the showeree to press against cold tiles in order to achieve any level of dampness. Still, none of us are here for our own convenience and it is entertaining.

I have the personal perk of sitting by the camp fire on Saturday night and reading a story. This year I read a brand new tale (borrowed a bit from Shakespeare) ‘Elf Night.’
The beard wrestling is very popular (Shakespeare missed a trick there! All my own work, the beard wrestling.)

Here’s what we do it for: of course: these children, away from home, learning to link with other people, learning to become good people. The sort of people who would give up a weekend to offer this experience.

Looking up from words on a page, I see rapt admiration, I see half asleep dreamers, I see contentment, appreciation.

5am isn’t so early.
The oven doesn’t get any lighter.
Everything must be washed and dried and bagged and put back in the hire van.
We end up rather tired.
‘Remind me again…’ we say.

‘How was it?’ I ask the children who were new to camp this year.
One says, ‘I loved my breakfast.’
Good answer!
General consensus: they will be back.
And so will we.

What you do for yourself leaves this earth with you: what you do for others, lives on.



Malvolio from 'Elf Night'




2 comments:

  1. Wonderful that you give your time for this. Also a wonderful experience for the kids.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jo- I'm almost recovered! xx

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