- Hatiye Garip
The camp kitchen is steaming with yummy smells and the sounds of laughter and chatter on Saturday nights. Our wonderful camp cook has Saturdays off, and the on-duty counselors and "stay-over" campers (who are attending for more than one week) have the opportunity to come together, five or six at a time, to prepare the evening meal. Campers and counselors wash, chop and stir-fry veggies for our Saturday Night Chicken or Veggie Stir-Fry. The only thing better than being part of the cooking crew is eating the incredible, sweet and tangy carrots, celery, onions, broccoli, mushrooms and chicken on a steaming bed of rice. It is definitely my favorite meal, although the campers might argue and say, "What about Taco Tuesday or our Pasta Bar on Monday?"
— Ruth Dunkley, director, Dunkley's Gymnastics Camp, South Hero
It's not easy cooking for 200-plus people, with a majority of those being kids! But our camp chef, Will Hosken, is very popular, not only because his meals are always delicious, but because he's also an exceptionally cool guy. Our campers' favorite meal is Will's tacos. The variety, color and tasty options that Taco Night involves have our campers lining up for seconds every time.
— Sarah Ferguson, social media director, Camp Birch Hill, New Durham, N.H.
We love our favorite meal song, "Cheffy Da-Da!" In short, it goes: "Cheffy dah-dah / Cheffy dah-dah / This is what we sing to you / Dah-da-da-da-da-da-dah! / Anyone can make a bed. / Anyone can sweep, hey! / But it takes a Cheffy to make the food we eat." The song is followed by thunderous pounding on the tables and stomping of feet!
— Earl Humes, staff member, Camp Regis-Applejack, Paul Smiths, N.Y.
Each summer, our most special meals are our camp banquets. Banquet is a unique Hochelaga tradition that brings all of the camp together to share the individual growth, team accomplishments and fun that took place throughout each two-week session. A group of campers and counselors work tirelessly to choose a banquet theme (last summer it was Alice in Wonderland) and transform the lodge with full wall murals and handmade decorations. Campers team up with our camp chef to design a special multicourse menu for the evening, complete with appetizers and dessert. We are particularly excited for banquets this summer because Camp Hochelaga is launching our Farm and Garden Program. We are partnering with local farms to bring milk, meat, apples and veggies into our camp meals and banquets from farms in our backyard. Camp Hochelaga will also have an expanded garden and chickens on-site this summer. Our new camp chef can't wait to work with campers and staff to create banquet menus inspired by all of this delicious local food.
— Hannah Bogard, director, Camp Hochelaga, South Hero
A food tradition that is a lot of fun and that the campers really enjoy is an activity we call "Iron Chef." Don't let the name deceive you. A better name for it would be "Iron Stomach." In this activity, one or two of our cabins will come together and compete with each other to see who can make the most interesting or best dish out of the ingredients made available to them by the kitchen. The kitchen always puts out ingredients that can go well together but also some that don't belong. The campers then create a few dishes that they call their masterpieces and send them to the judges for tasting. The judges are always special guests invited in from other parts of camp. Sometimes the campers produce some pretty amazing things, while other times, the outcome can be less than desirable for the judge to eat. There never really is a winner in the competition, as the joy of making the creations and the results are what the campers really care about.
— Adam Van Vught, assistant camp director, YMCA Camp Abnaki, North Hero
At Night Eagle, each counselor and his tipi group do all the cooking! Boys prep, cook, serve and clean up after the meals. Their favorite meal — which is cooked in a 55-gallon drum oven over a fire — has got to be Night Eagle Pizza. One time, the cook crew got creative and cooked a macaroni pizza. That may be the most famous pizza ever cooked at camp, and the campers and staff loved it!
— Bruce Moreton, director, Night Eagle Wilderness Adventures, Wallingford
We have a true farm-to-table program. Our campers and staff are harvesting produce from our own gardens and delivering to our kitchen every day. Cecil, our head cook, and his staff take pride in the fact we locally source almost 80 percent of our meats, produce and dairy. Everything is homemade. Our food service is consistently one of the top reasons why our families return year after year.
— Jon Hammond, director, Hosmer Point Camp, Craftsbury Common
At Camp Little Notch, our dining hall proudly hangs a sign that says, " Please save ______ for dessert." We then hang a rainbow-colored sign telling them if they need "fingers, spoons, forks or face." We love to eat with just faces. It's a tradition. In fact, camper surveys at the end of the week always request more foods to eat with just faces, like pudding!