Thursday, February 27, 2014

The camp menu

I used a two-week cycle menu last summer at Oakland Feather River Camp. Even though I felt a one-week menu would've worked, the extra week doubled the meals for campers and staff. The added week was a selling point for the cooks and camp staff. It gave the cooks more variety to work with and helped alleviate staff menu burnout. (I often read that summer camp staff quickly tire of eating that same things week and week.)

By the time the camp hired me in early-April, my notebook was filled with ideas for the salad bar, vegetarian meals and the main menu. I quickly sketched the menu out after I arrived at camp in May. Once the cooks arrived (a week after my report date), I trained them how to execute each the menu item. Two weekend sessions in May gave the cooks the opportunity to present the full menu to camps of large numbers.

Menu rotation began in early June with staff training week. The second week was used for the first session of the summer, Adult Art Camp and the first of five week-long family camps. I revised the menu to include kid-approved favorites for Camp Kidd and Camp Sierra, held in late June. The two weeks rotated until the end of camp in mid-August.

This year I plan to begin staff training with the second menu week. Since many families come to the same session each year, flipping the menu will let them experience the other side of the menu when they come to camp.

An early menu draft for the 2014 summer season. I plan to recycle unpopular and high-cost menu items, find ways to add more interest to breakfast and rework some of the side dishes. Kid-friendly dishes will compliment meals, such as the fish dinner on Saturday, that weren't popular with children.

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