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Patrol Cooking: Not Your Typical Summer Camp Meal

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Posted on August 17, 2011 by Kevin M., Patrol Z Reporter7


Across the country, Scout camp dining halls are full of staffers leading campers in songs and cheers to thank the kitchen staff for their daily meals. But at the Cedarlands Scout Reservation (CSR), a camp nestled deep in the Adirondack Park in Long Lake, New York, Scouts are at work in a different way.


Tenderfoot Scout Jonathan M. prepares breakfast in his campsite at Cedarlands Scout Reservation. (Photo from Patrol Z Reporter Kevin M)


As the sun rises and birds begin to chirp, the sound of sizzling pancakes cooking over a camp stove can be heard as Boy Scouts work diligently to prepare breakfast in patrols. While cooking methods have evolved, the patrol method, first used by Baden-Powell at Brownsea Island in 1907, has undergone relatively few changes in the last century.


At CSR, the patrol method is used to its fullest extent as Scouts camp, cook, eat and clean as patrols during their weeklong stay at Long Lake. The patrol method will also be used for meals at the national jamboree at the Summit.


A typical day at CSR begins with 2 patrol members rising early to pick up their patrols breakfast from the camp commissary. Once back in camp, the cooks take over and begin preparing the groups breakfast. When breakfast is ready, the patrol gathers for grace and then digs in and enjoys a delicious meal.


Divvying Up The Jobs


So who gets to be cooks and who has to clean up afterward? Thats the beauty of the patrol system.


Each patrol is led by a patrol leader who is tasked with creating the patrols duty roster, a list that assigns specific jobs like cook or cleanup to patrol members to make sure no one does a job too often.


In other words, cooking duties rotate throughout the week, which gives everyone a chance to be a master chef.


Cleaning Up


After breakfast has been eaten and the last pancake has been fought over and devoured, the work isnt quite done as someone still has to clean up. This job falls to the members of the patrol assigned to cleaning duty for that meal.


Cleaning is done using the 3-pot method:

1. A hot wash pot with soap.

2. A hot rinse pot.

3. A cold sanitation pot.


Once the dishes are cleaned and leftover food has been returned, Scouts leave camp for merit badges, trips and other activities. The same system of cooks, food runners and cleaners is repeated for each meal, but different Scouts do different jobs.


Why Its Important


Eagle Scout and adult leader Nolan Amos believes that system helps build a sense of responsibility and teamwork in the patrol.


There really is nothing better than the smell of bacon sizzling on a camp stove on a cool Adirondack morning. Jonathan M., Tenderfoot Scout


Patrol cooking is an important part to every troops development of younger Scouts, Amos said. Patrol-style cooking shows the dependency of the patrol on the other members. Without one to gather the food, cook and clean, the patrol cannot have their next meal.


Jason Cocca, also an adult leader and fellow Eagle Scout, agrees that patrol-style cooking helps Scouts develop leadership and communication skills.


However, the benefits of patrol-style cooking are best summed up by Tenderfoot Scout Jonathan M.


When you cook your own food you get a sense of accomplishment and achievement you cant get in a dining hall, Jonathan said. There really is nothing better than the smell of bacon sizzling on a camp stove on a cool Adirondack morning.



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Sounds like our summer camp. Heck, it sounds like our weekend campouts. At summer camp we also have a fireman and wood gatherer as we use Shepards stoves. Mmmm, smokey pancakes.


Thanks for the article, it gave me the goosebumps as I remembered summer camp.

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My first summer camp was 1969, when Cutter Scout Reservation opened ( Santa Cruz County, CA ). At the time, they had a pool, a commissary, rifle and archery range,... and latrines. That's it. Each camp had a free standing iron stove ( Shepard Stove?? ) and a campfire ring. That was it. We had to hike up to the Commissary every meal to get our food, which was carried on a std boy scout frame with a small wastebasket bungied to it. Every meal cooked and eaten in camp. Clean up, pack it all back to the commissary.


Over the years, they converted to central dining, then built a dining hall, then dug a lake, then put tables in all the campsites, then added showers in each camp, then blahblahblah... Every year they added more infrastrucure.


My best year was the first.



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Thanks for the great article. It is a piece of scouting nostalgia as well as a reminder for all scout leaders of our scouting roots and traditions that should never be forgotten, replaced, or eliminated from any of our programs. Maybe I will send a copy to Bob Mazzucca as a reminder why camping and outdoor skills are so important to the scouting program even today.(This message has been edited by BadenP)

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Nice article. But picking up your food at the commissary?


How about each patrol planning their own meals for the week, and then buying the groceries, staying within budget, of course. How about learning to keep your food cold for a week in the heat of July, and how to use dry ice? How about some lessons about making sure you ration your food, so it lasts all week? Lots of rank advancement skills can be taught and learned when you do this.

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We've done that - at Northern Tier and MOHAB. No real challenge to it, if you like a limited menu. Why do that, when there are real skill lessons (using dry ice, for one) to be learned in keeping food cold for a week in the July heat of Georgia? It opens up so many other recipe opportunities and cooking lessons.

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I'm talking about using dry ice at summer camp, the original topic here. The comment about Northern Tier and MOHAB was in reference to having meals for a week that didn't require refrigeration. Dry ice is actuall pretty heavy, and kind of expensive. I don't think I'd ever use it (or a cooler) on a backpacking trip.

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Our camp offers both options, our boys won't have anything to do with the dining hall.


I think there's something to learning to prepare a meal from commisary ingredients. Most moms appreciate when their boys come home able to make pancakes and french toast.


Moving on to figuring out how to do the same thing when refridgeration is an issue is a natural next step.

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