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Patrol Competition - cooking contest report

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  • Patrol Competition - cooking contest report

    Last night was the monthly cooking contest. This month it was Camping Dinner. We have four patrols. Two brought food, but two had logistical screwups and didn't bring anything to cook. One of those patrols just gave up, the other, after some thought, decided to make Stone Soup. They put a rock in a pot of water, added some carrots one guy had left over from his lunch, and borrowed some pepper from one of the other patrols.

    The Dragons made a stir fry that was pretty good. The Wolves made a really good chilli. The Ninjas didn't make anything. The Atomic Tacos made their stone soup.

    The rules of the contest state that to be eligible to win, KP needs to be done and all the gear stowed by a certain time. The Tacos got cleaned up pretty quick because, frankly, it doesn't take too long to clean up after stone soup. The Dragons and Wolves took a little longer. A little too long. Neither one got their gear clean and stowed in time.

    So the Stone Soup won the contest.

    A lesson in perserverence. Never give up!

  • #2

    A program under which you can ignore the underlying principles, put forth no effort, produce nothing yet still win on some technicality usually requires the involvement of the Federal government.


    • #3
      They did not ignore any underlying principles. They made a mistake and made some effort to overcome it, showing spirit and good humor. Unlike the 4th patrol that just gave up. If you don't want to call it stone soup, you could call it boiled carrots with pepper seasoning.

      "Be prepared" isn't just about having "stuff" with you. It's also (maybe even more) about being able to make do with what's available when you don't have "stuff" around.

      The SPL gave the other two patrols plenty of warnings about the time limit. He was probably more strict on enforcing it that I would have been (they were close to being done), but it's not like the time limit on KP is some arbitrary roadblock- it's necessary to have the contest at all since the meeting has to wrap up on schedule. The cooking contest really is the SPL's baby - he loves to cook and I suspect he wants to make sure there aren't any objections from adults wondering why the meeting ran 45 minutes late.


      • #4
        So how did the stone soup taste?


        • #5
          I'm sure it was a hard choice.


          Being Prepared is a status.
          Improvising is a skill.
          Not the same.


          • #6
            Reminds me of my first day's assembly at ILOS when our patrol flag was late because the guy that had it had a last minute work commitment. We rigged a flag from a T shirt and a stick, then quickly decorating it with a Sharpie. When the staff saw it they could have ridiculed it and gave us grief over not having a proper flag but instead they marveled at our resourcefulness. Something to be said for making the best out of a situation and encouraging Scouts to do so.


            • #7
              I like this monthly cooking contest idea.
              How do you work it?
              Do they use camp stoves?
              Do you change the rules?
              How much time do you allow?
              Please share the nuts and bolts of this with us.


              • #8

                It's an evolving thing. Can't really claim that it's dialed in yet, but here is what we have for nuts and bolts.

                Quick background: We're new troop, not quite a year old. We have no experienced scouts (well, none with previous experience anyway), and everyone is pretty young..

                The SMASMs wanted to encourage more patrol competitions, so we hinted heavily about a cooking contest. Our current SPL really likes cooking, so he picked up on the hint and ran with it. The Troop Committee agreed to support it by providing token prizes for the winning patrol - typically items that can go in their cook kits. The Stone Soup won it's patrol a couple of those Coughlan's toast racks that go over a stove. They're excited about making toast on the next campout.

                The last Troop meeting of each month is reserved for the cooking contest. The SPL generally announces the rules and theme the week before so the Patrols have one week to organize themselves. He comes up with the ideas himself, but is open to ideas. We've done both camp stoves and dutch ovens so far. The adults are trying to encourage more backpacking cooking. I've offered to the PLC to do a skill presentation at a meeting in the near future about dehydrating your own food for backpacking trips, and as part of it I'll help prepare dehydrated ingredients for that month's competition. They seem to like the idea, so I'm dusting off the dehydrator.

                For some contests, the troop has provided ingredients. For this one, the Patrols had to bring their own. The Dutch Oven contests have lasted the entire meeting, but they tend to have easier cleanup, plus it takes a little time to get the coals going. Last week the pre-gathering activity was setting up the camp kitchens, and the contest started immediately after Opening Cermonies. KP deadline was, I think, 70 minutes later so there was time for some announcements before closing. Overall we're still playing it by ear.

                As things stand, I see one major glitch in our current format. For the bulk of the meeting, only two or three scouts from each patrol are engaged in the actual contest, and the rest of the scouts are, shall we say, under-tasked. They tend to play impromptu, wide-games that usually involve keep-away with someone's hat. The PLs are usually part of the cooking crew since they want to win the contest, so the scouts not part of cooking tend to be the least effective at self-supervision. We need to get some parallel activities going on that keep everyone occupied.


                • #9
                  Our troop holds a monthly cooking competition but not during troop meetings. It is held Sat evening meal during campouts. The theme is chosen during the PLC. Each patrol then chooses menus and buys food to meet the theme. The expense of the food becomes part of the campout expense. Scouts are given a flat budget of $4 per meal per scout for a weekend campout. If they choose to have oatmeal for breakfast and spend the balance on the evening meal, that helps to teach Thriftness.

                  Competetions have included meals of various ethnic ideas like Mexican, Asian, Italian as well as particular methods of cooking like at least one item must be made in a dutch oven other than dessert or one item must be cooked in a box oven.

                  Once the theme was Seafood. One patrol served Chicken and Corn in a Coconut shell. C-food.

                  We had one campout where each patrol was given ground beef. A table was set up with potatoes, rice, pasta, corn, canned veggies, canned tomatoes, Rotel, variety of canned and fresh fruits, bagels, tortillas, pita bread, italian bread, and a variety of flour, sugar, spices, and cooking oils.

                  Each patrol was allowed to choose one item from the table in round robin style until they had chosen all the ingredients they felt they needed. Patrol A might have gotten the rice so Patrol B was left with potatoes or pasta. They then developed a recipe and cooked something based on what they had "won" during the selection process. They voted this was their favorite method of all time.

                  Other times we have provided each patrol with similar ingredients but only provided them with certain cooking methods. Once they were given fish fillets, potatoes, onions, and a bread mix. One patrol was provided a turkey fryer and oil, one patrol a box oven, and one patrol an iron skillet and stove. They all had access to spices, seasonings, sugar, flour, and butter/oil/shortening. Receipe cards were provided but they could freelance if they preferred. The patrols shared their creations with each other so they could see what frying, baking or skillet cooking did to the same ingredients.

                  Several years ago the cooking skills were dismal. They have developed very good cooking skills and are quite adaptive. Other meals during the weekend are often less challenging but that is their choice.


                  • #10
                    Lots of good ideas.

                    We held a "Utensiless Cooking" contest during our last camping trip. Despite heavy rain the patrols pulled it off. They discovered it's tough to get a good be of coals when you fire pit is filled with water.
                    One patrol grilled chicken on a flat rock, one did shish kabob, and one hot dogs. I'd like to do more cooking competitions.

                    The scouts refused to bake potatoes in mud even after I assured them that we did this quite often "back in the day"!