Church Camp 2012

Last week was my annual week of mega-cooking for church camp. Five days of planning and two days of shopping culminated in a Wednesday-thru-Sunday camp that consisted of 12 meals and a bunch of snacks. There were 100+ campers most days, which means we served around 1250 trays of food. It was our biggest camp yet.

We have a system where folks sign up to help with the cooking on a rotating basis, 4 or 5 cooks per meal.  My job is to make sure the food is there, along with a flow chart to step them through the cooking process, so that things are ready to serve in a timely manner.  I’m SO glad to have lots of help, so I don’t actually do all the cooking.  But many meals I’m in there, answering questions, problem-solving and lending a hand.

Many of the meals were old favorites we’d served before: hot dogs, pancakes, taco bar, pizza, etc. A few of the changes: one morning we served homemade biscuits and gravy which was a lot of work but was a big hit. I did a potato sausage chowder on the last day which some kids looked at cross-eyed but adults really enjoyed. Every evening we served a salad bar, which was very well received, I think. On the first night I made a huge vat of this award-winning chili. I was afraid I’d have tons left, but between that evening, and a potato bar a couple days later, almost all of it disappeared. Definitely a hit.

One thing that I tried that was slightly disappointing: this Alton Brown method of ‘boiling’ eggs. They came out perfectly twice at home.  Unfortunately (fearing liquid centers) I chickened out and baked them 34 minutes instead of the recommended 30. PLUS I was using a convection oven which tends to cook faster than a regular one. They weren’t terrible, but some ended up a bit rubbery, and had brown bits. I think if I’d baked them 29 minutes they’d have been perfect. Ah well.

I averaged around $1.57/plate, which I think is pretty decent considering there were multiple offerings and fresh fruits/veggies at every meal.  We had some leftovers, but the only thing that I made way too much of was pizza. It eventually all got eaten, but we were swimming in pizza for a couple days.  Apparently 28 lbs of flour is more than enough for 110 people.

Other interesting factoids:

  • It takes about 35 pounds of pork roast to make pulled pork for 100 people.
  • I bought 45 dozen eggs and had EIGHT eggs left.
  • 21 pounds of canned corn is NOT enough for 100 people.  (Apparently lots of people like corn.)
  • 50 pounds of potatoes is about right for a potato bar for 100+ people.
  • I began with 16 gallons of milk, and had someone go to the store for 5 more gallons.  And we STILL ran out of milk before the last meal.

All in all, it was a successful camp. The kids had a blast on the lake.  The adults had a great time visiting.  We all had some really great worship and Bible study sessions.  And no one went away hungry from camp.  But I’m glad it’s not coming around again for another year.  I’m tired of cooking!


  1. We have often wondered why public schools cannot take a lesson from camps and make their foods similar instead of the junk they serve. While it meets state and federal standards, for all intent and purposes it is still not as healthy as it should be.
    But for some reason, food preparers in public schools don’t take notice that these camps run on a shoestring budget and their food is fabulous!!!!!!!

    • In the school where I teach, I am really impressed. The kitchen staff bakes their own bread, makes homemade stir-fry, incorporates some pretty tasty items….. it seems to depend a lot on the motivation and passions of the staff (within certain restrictions they are expected to comply, I’m sure).

      Gotta love camp food, though, huh?

  2. For doing the eggs in the oven, do you preheat the oven before you put the eggs in? Or do you put the eggs in & then preheat the oven? I was a little confused by the instructions, but would LOVE to try them!!

  3. We preheated the oven, then placed eggs on jelly roll pans so they’d be easy to get in and out of the oven. I am itching to try the eggs again, just with a shorter cook time. I really think it could work. And you just can’t beat it for easy.

  4. Janey B says:

    Amazing – good job!!!

    I wanted to share this link with you about thyroid and celiac, short but fascinating:

    • Thanks, that was very interesting. An additional component of camp cooking this year was providing gluten free alternatives for the half-dozen or so ladies in our group who are avoiding gluten. My sausage gravy and potato soup and several other things were all gluten free this year, and they brought gluten-free substitutes for some meals (cornbread, pancake mix, GF bread, etc). It actually worked really well.

  5. Great job! Serving a crowd That huge must feel so satisfying. Also, isn’t funny how no matter what is is ALWAYS the milk that runs out?! And isn’t it cool how when you serve a crowd the food just seems to multiply itself, like when Jesus fed the multitudes? 🙂

  6. Sandra Mort says:

    Are you familiar with Ellen’s Kitchen?