Camp food- the very phrase conjures up images of franks and bean, mystery meat and any number of other culinary aberrations. There was a time, to be sure, that camps, and Camp Mishawaka lived up to the stereotype, but the truth is we all eat differently now than we used to. And, we learned long ago that if the kids and staff are well fed, eat well and have choices everything else seems to go better.
This is why our staff works hard to provide health choices, with a breakfast yogurt and hot cereal bar (in addition to the main offering) and a salad bar with fresh vegetables and fruit at lunch and dinner. We still eat family style- napkins in the lap, elbows off the table, please and thank you. Campers take turn “hopping” (going back for seconds) and “scraping” (cleaning the plates for better washing) each meal. We have a rotating group that performs “service committee” for each meal- setting the table for each place setting. We even have a diagram of utensil placement for campers to follow!
It would be simpler, and likely quite a bit less work to just form a line, get our chow and head to the table. We have kept the family style arrangement for many reasons, not the least of which is that meal-time at Camp Mishawaka is about much more than just filing one’s stomach. Campers and staff engage in conversation about their activities, their day, their life at home and share stories. Just yesterday, I had a really great conversation with a young camper who has studied about fair labor practices in the garment industry. This segwayed (somehow) into astrological signs and then some obligatory “dad jokes.”
In a busy day, meal-time gives all a chance to rest and reflect. To catch up on the day and digest not just the food, but the preceding experiences and preview the coming ones. A lot is revealed.
My own mother never forgave me for learning to like Camp Mishawaka’s tuna salad while still pushing her version away. Truth is, I am not sure I would have eaten the camp tuna salad at home, either. But in this moment, with this group of people it was about the most satisfying repast I could have wanted. I learned to try (and like!) things I have never eaten before. The surroundings flavor our experience and the food.
Thanks for making Camp Mishawaka a part of your summer… and now, I am off to breakfast. I wonder what will be on the menu this morning.
Have a great day!