Church camp

Ever since I somehow ended up in charge of organizing the food for our yearly church camp, I’ve looked forward to camp with a mixture of dread and anticipation.  However, it’s definitely getting less scary the longer I’m in charge. This year, my 4th as head cook, was the highest attendance ever, with 80-100 people at most meals.  That came to a total of 1040 meals over 4 days’ time.

Thankfully I had lots of help.  My sister and a friend helped me shop– a huge undertaking, requiring 5 carts at Costco, 3 at Winco, and partial carts at 4 other stores.  Then at each meal there were 4 volunteers in the kitchen doing the cooking. I was in and out answering questions and cooking ‘pet’ recipes, but other people did the bulk of the work at each meal.  Everything went smoothly, and I was pleased that we could offer people some really good food at a cost of about $1.50 a plate.

We did traditional favorites like pancakes, tacos, and pizza.   This year for the first time we also served teriyaki chicken (using the teriyaki sauce recipe from my book), plus fried rice and egg rolls. It was really well received.  However the last half hour of prep was breathlessly crazy, and the stoves looked like an oil slick after we were done.  I’m still trying to decide if that meal is worth doing again.

Another new thing was fresh biscuits for 2 breakfasts.  My 15 year old and I rolled out a bunch of 12 dozen biscuits at home (using this recipe) then froze them, and waited til camp to bake them.  They turned out well, and I think I’ll do them again.

We also added a pasta bar for one dinner.  We offered two pasta choices (spaghetti or wagon wheel pasta) and two sauces (marinara with meatballs, or a ridiculously yummy alfredo sauce– here’s the recipe)!  It was a bit more work than the frozen lasagna we have done other years.  But it was half the cost, and I think people enjoyed having options at the meal.

Of course there was lots to camp besides the cooking.  It was fun hanging out with friends and family, watching the kids tubing, singing, eating s’mores by the campfire, and of course snapping tons of photos.  I got nearly 1000 over the 4 days, and gave my new 85 mm lens a good testing. It is a sweet, sweet lens! It gets great clarity at a distance, lovely unfocused backgrounds, and really excellent color. Here are a few pictures —  click to enlarge.



  1. Wonderful! With graduation/birthdays/wedding/daily everything that comes with children… and now this, you get a GOLD MEDAL!

  2. that s’mores photo is worth a million bucks!

  3. my favorite of the photos is the two little girls with walking staffs – standing there as if they have the weight of the world on their shoulders!but I think your little one asleep in the boat is adorable too – just worn out with so much fun

  4. Thanks for sharing Mary!!! It looks like you had a ton of fun! I wanna go next year!!! 😉

  5. Thanks, Mary. We have camp for 30 in three weeks. For years we have gone overboard with food. Each family was assigned a meal and then left on their own to shop and cook and clean up. And since we all pay up, or get reimbursed, to cover the average cost of meals, the frugal among us have rebelled! The current limit is $5 a day per person, for breakfast and dinner, which I think is super generous. (I’m frugal usually, but for this, I never really cared – someone else cooked and cleaned up! What’s to complain about? And I usually have one of the cheaper meals.)

    Thank you so much for the ideas. We have a giant BBQ grill available and we do a “bring your own meat” night with watermelon and chips. Maybe we’ll add pizza on that grill. I love when everyone has to help cook, and it’s outside, not in a hot stuffy kitchen. This year when we have our prep meeting, I’ll have your menu ideas to help the over-generous have some cheaper options.

  6. Your photos look like something out of a magazine. Beautiful!!!!

  7. Wonderful! With graduation/birthdays/wedding/daily everything that comes with children… and now this, you get a GOLD MEDAL!