Friday, May 25, 2007

Camp Nerdly Kitchen

I found a website that may offer assistance to anyone who plans to feed 80 to 100 campers at a remote camp.

Camp Nerdly One was held May 4 to 6, 2007 in Prince William Forest National Park, Triangle, Virginia. According to the list of attendees, 64 adults and four children enjoyed "food czar" Meguey Baker's meals.

The website is an open source wiki. It looks like event organizers used it to coordinate planning efforts via the Internet.

Meguey has a complete list of food that's need for 50 people on the food planning page. The menu is relatively basic with eggs, bacon and cereal for breakfast, chili and sandwiches for lunch and tacos for Saturday dinner.

She includes a list of all pots and pans and utensils for the weekend. This note from the National Park Service is posted in the discussion section of the web page:

There is no equipment or utensils provided in the dining halls. You will need to bring all necessary items to prepare your food (pots, pans, spoons, flippers, etc. ...). Please be sure to also bring vegetable oil and salt to clean and season the griddle. The kitchens are equipped with a 10-burner stove, a griddle and three ovens. The park also provides buckets and mops for cleaning up the dining hall and bathrooms, but we do not provide the cleaning solutions, rags, gloves or trash bags.

The website also contains K.P. assignments and a cook's schedule here. Chores were assigned as follows:

Everyone attending will be expected to do some chores. People appointed "Captain" should round up their work crew and decide how they want to divide the labor. Your name should be listed once below. If it is listed zero or two times, let Jason know. If you don't like the job you were more or less randomly assigned for any reason, feel free to note that and offer to swap with somebody. Make your own matches offline, then adjust the wiki. Nobody cares who does what as long as the numbers stay the same - 4 cooks + 4 kitchen cleaners per meal, 9 bathroom cleaners, and so forth. The only people I placed deliberately were early volunteers and, for Friday meals, people I knew would be there early. It would break my heart if you re-jiggered it so you weren't making new friends while you did your chores.
Meal cost was projected at about $20 per person for the weekend. Food was projected as follows:

  • Snacks = $150
  • Condiments = $45
  • Grains = $165
  • Prepared foods = $90
  • Produce = $165
  • Meat = $215
  • Dairy = $250

  • In addition, the group spent $155 on cleaning chemicals and supplies and $25 to cover equipment that was not borrowed from participants.

    Prince William Forest National Park is located 35 miles south of Washington, D.C. in Triangle, Virginia. Camp Nerdly was located at Camp Orenda, one of five cabin camps built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s as rustic forest retreats for underprivileged children. The Office of Strategic Services trained intelligence operatives at the site during World War II.


    1. Hey, I was just pointed to your blog. Just a quick follow-up about how it all panned out at Nerdly. We came in under budget enough to get some smores, and there was general rebellion at the hard boiled eggs on Sunday morning, so all left-over veggies went into made-to-order omelets. There was also some overage, but not a ton, and if we'd had to plan Sunday dinner, we would have used up all the left-overs. Glad you liked it, and check back on the Nerdly wiki for any 2008 menu modifications!

    2. Thanks for writing, Meg. Dealing with leftovers is the bain of limited-time operations like Camp Nerdly. It takes careful planning and close management to pull it off. It looks like you did it!

      I've had the same reaction to hard cooked eggs by the kids at my camp.