Camp Food – Burnt or Raw Still a Delicious Memory

Camp food is not part of the 3 great F’s of camping, they are:  Friendship, Fire and Fun.  Food and flavor are more like camping stepchildren.

If you camp with a youth group count on it, at least one meal will be partially raw and another burnt to a crisp.  It’s the law of group camping; trying to cook too many meals quickly to feed very hungry campers does not gourmet meals create.

You Can Have it Burnt  

Camping - star fire.

Generally your burnt food falls into hot dogs and marshmallows.  Hot dogs blacken quickly when the grill is über hot and blazing because stomachs don’t want to wait for the fire to die down into a nice bed of coals.  What typically happens is the grill is full of wieners and there are seemingly thousands of young voices creating distractions for the cook with questions like “Is it done yet?”  “When are we going to eat?”  “I’m going to pass out from hunger.  Aren’t you done cooking?”  “Are we there yet?”  Ooops, sorry that question is still lingering from the car trip to camp.  The cook stops to answer questions and in a moment the supper is charred.

Marshmallows are a different story.  Many people, me included, prefer to toast our marshmallows to flaming.  Charred sugar can be a good thing when in the woods.

 You Can Have It Raw

Raw happens the same was the burnt; a distracted cook and bunch of hungry antsy children.  Usually raw comes in the form of a too thick hamburger that looks perfect on the outside but didn’t stay over the embers long enough.  Generally speaking the raw burger will be returned to the grill and with luck another adult will replace the now thoroughly disgraced grill master.  Good luck new cook.  It’s not as easy as you think.

Or, You can Have Both Burnt and Raw at the Same Time

One of the favorite camping foods around here is Silver Turtles.  You might recognize it by a different name but if you have camped with a youth group you have most likely eaten one of these for dinner.  The basics are: aluminum foil, meat, cut up vegetables and a few exotic spices like salt and pepper. During my years of camping with youth I have seen 3 different versions:

1.  Placing the food items on two layers of foil and wrapping tightly

2.  Putting a wet paper towel between the layers of foil to add moisture

3.  Placing a cabbage leaf under the meat and vegetables, again to add moisture

For this entrée the meats can be anything from ground beef to cut-up steak or chicken.  As a group leader you can bring all kinds of nutritious veggies like carrots or tomatoes but what the children will ultimately put on the foil is sliced potatoes.

potato cooked in aluminum foil in the bonfire As a potato person I’m all for this BUT here’s the problem.  After the foil packets are placed on the embers the meat tends to cook quickly, the potatoes not so.  At the end it’s your choice burnt dry meat and perfect potatoes or delectable moist meat and raw potatoes.  There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground with this meal yet the campers love it and demand it trip after trip.

In the End Camp Food is Still about the 3 Fs

Ultimately what camp food has going for it is the fact that you’re hungry and will eat anything.  Later because you remember the Friendship, Fire and Fun you forget burnt and raw and tell everyone the best food ever was cooked around the camp fire.  So what’s the best meal you ever had at camp?

Camping, 1925


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