By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold
Occasionally I’ll attempt to experience one of the many simple joys of Summer Camp during the non-Summer Camp months at Camp Gray. I’m reminded during each attempt that there is a time and a place, and that the simple joys of Summer Camp aren’t nearly as enjoyable when partaken outside of the confines of Summer Camp.
While it’s difficult to fully re-create these simple joys outside of Summer Camp, there’s nothing that says we can’t begin preparing early for such joys. Let’s dig in now, and allow me to expound on one such joy, a taste sensation, which is bound by a season, time, location, ambiance, and manner.
It goes like this:
Season: Summer Camp.
Time: early evening, as the sun has begun to set behind the tall pines and abundantly leafy oaks of Camp’s diverse forest.
Location: At one of Camp’s many campfire areas, depending on age and program.
Ambiance: Surrounded by dozens of friends who have begun to feel like family, with the smell of campfire wafting in the air, and the sounds of laughter from all as stories and jokes are told by seasoned Camp Gray staffers.
Manner: First, you take a sheet of aluminum foil – roughly 24’’ x 12’’. Lay the foil onto the picnic table shiny side up. I repeat, the shine should be up, for the shine saves you time. Once you have it in place, and you’ve smoothed out any cumbersome wrinkles, you may begin.
There should be a can of non-stick cooking spray available. Remove the lid and spray a liberal amount (keeping in mind there needs to be enough spray for all), onto your foil. This is a step that oftentimes is taken lightly. I urge you to be diligent in your spraying. Inadequate spray will ruin your day.
In a generously large swath in the middle of the foil, scoop and pour the provided potatoes onto the foil. Sometimes the potatoes are more of a hash-brown consistency, while other times the potatoes are larger cubed chunks. The genre of potatoes isn’t so much what matters here, my friends. Rather, simply that your base layer is made up of the starchy oval sphere from the Idaho region. A potato a day, whether baked, mashed, cubed, or hashed, makes me say “hooray.”
Once you’re happy with the placement of your potatoes, you can retrieve the provided container/bag of mixed vegetables. Be as generous or as stingy as your little veggie loving/hating heart desires when it comes to the spreading of your vegetables. Keep in mind though; veggies are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, and my personal favorite, vitamin C.
If you are a vegetarian, you can skip the next paragraph, for it is focused on the layering of meat. Also, vegetarians may want to repeat the previous step to ensure you have enough sustenance to balance the lack of meat. Without the proper sustenance, I fear you may encounter hunger pangs later in the evening during the planned strenuous athletic endeavor that takes place on the Athletic Field.
Next up: Meat. The importance of the genre of the meat is similar to the importance of the potato genre. Various meats have been rolled out in the past (albeit all of them pre-cooked), and all have worked extraordinarily well. A good layer of meat makes it neat.
Now, this has been a fairly straightforward, comprehensive, and non-controversial explanation, if I may say so myself. My goal here isn’t to rile feathers; rather, it is to inform you, the Camp Gray family of this worthwhile information.
That being said however, at this point in the explanation, there is no preventing a divide in philosophy and strategy. Yes friends, this blog is about to get wholly controversial. That’s because in the 60 years of Camp Gray, there has never been a clear resolution to this looming questions: Do you add the cheese before or after the fire. I, myself, am a pre-fire cheeser. I find that the cheese has a nice, melted, and occasionally crunchy texture when I cheese pre-fire. Others, and I won’t name names, prefer the post-fire cheesing. The thought process here is that post-fire would prevent any chance of burning the cheese (My rebuttal being that this strategy also prevents your cheese from melting… I digress.). We could go back and forth for ages (in fact, we as a Camp have for 60 years).
Ultimately, does the timing of your cheese addition matter? Should it divide us? It should not. We live in Wisconsin, and we love cheese. What should divide us is if you don’t add cheese at all. Am I right?
Regardless of when you cheese, when you are ready for the fire, you need to roll the foil in preparation for the fire. You must be extremely careful to leave room for an air pocket, while at the same time preventing any spillage. Your counselor will aid you in the rolling of the foil – it is much too delicate of an operation to simply explain through the written word. When your foil is rolled and sealed, ask your counselor to place it on the coals of a recently broken-down campfire. Remember, coals cook, fire burns. In approximately 10-14 minutes, dinner is ready.
That, my friends, is how you make a Camp Gray Hobo Dinner. I can’t wait to make one with you on a Summer Camp Tuesday night soon.
I thank you for taking the time to read this thorough and exhaustive explanation.
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