Sunlight glinting off the water, reflecting on the bunkhouse doors.
A few spiders to be swept gently outside.
The echoing sounds of a child’s laughter as they learn to throw a frisbee on the grassy field.
Crunching gravel under our car tires as we back into the parking spot, always prepared for an emergency that never seems to come.
Shouts of hello to girls we haven’t seen in months from other areas of the county, shy hellos to girls from Burlington and Mount Vernon. New friends to weave into the memories of camp.
Time has stopped or reversed somehow when you get to camp, specifically Girl Scout camp.
Especially if you were a Girl Scout till you were 13 or so yourself and now you are leading your twin daughters troop to encampment.
This annual gathering brings together troops from around the local counties for a weekend of fun, learning and badge work. Sometimes it is run by the service unit, this one was run by a single troop. A large and active troop.
Food-wise, my expectations weren’t high.
Biscuits on a stick, bug juice and foil packets filled with ground beef and canned Veg-All were the menu way back when I was a girl. Simple, filling and inexpensive were the hallmarks of camp. The “hot wets” of campfire stew or soups that we all knew would keep us satisfied and warm.
Gourmet or even fresh food was a true luxury.
On prior camping trips, with my girl’s service unit, we had progressed as far as tacos in a bag with salsa and an occasional baked treat, but only when I brought along a pan and the skills to bake in a Dutch Oven.
At least the encampment I just attended shows that even Girl Scouts have begun to learn that fresh food prepared simply is as satisfying as processed food.
I mean, look at this menu for a group of 150 campers all prepared by a kitchen staff of no more than 6.
Friday night dinner was all you could eat:
Homemade chicken and wild rice soup-Gluten-FreeOr Vegetarian Minestrone soup with pasta shells.
Accompanied by bread and butter, milk, apple juice and water.
Egg, herb and red potato scramble
Corn kernel muffins with margarine
Milk, apple juice or water
Lunch: Sandwiches of sliced turkey, ham and, cheese
Or Salmon Salad- with onions, celery and mayonnaise
Lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, all with hoagie rolls to make your own sandwich.
Baked Salmon with dill
Wild rice salad with cranberries and pumpkin seeds
Leafy green salad with tomatoes, shredded carrots and vinaigrette dressing
Milk, lemonade and water
Well, the intended dessert was baked apples with raisins and sunflower seeds.
The apples collapsed (exploded is what they told the girls) when baked. So we all had hot applesauce. Still tasted yummy but not at all what they intended.
Actually consumed: S'MORES of course! Every Girl scout leader packed along graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate.
We are not crazy!
After all when you think of a Girl Scout, you think of the 3 C’s right?
Camping, Crafting and Cookies!To any Girl Scout I’ve ever met, s'mores are a requirement for campfire.
And my troop was no exception to the treats. I had packed along gluten-free gingersnaps for my troop.
Biscuits with berries, whipped cream and yogurt
Yup, a huge scone like biscuit and bowls of the rest to spoon on or not as desired.
Are you starting to be envious? It isn’t like any camping experience of your youth now, was it?
Can I make you even a bit more jealous?
What if I told you that when I registered my troop with
3 gluten-free people,
one vegetarian and
one who can’t have soy protein isolate- in a troop of 5 girls. Say that 3 times fast.
The answer to my perennial question, “Is there anything you need me to bring to substitute for a gluten full item, vegetarian meal or snack?”
The answer was a quick, “No, we gotcha covered!” Music to my ears!
And they did.
Just that simply.
Yes, a group of fellow girl scouts and their amazing leader, made sure that camp was safe for every attendee. Right down to declaring the entire camp Nut-Free because ONE girl out of the 150 at camp is that allergic.
Because we are sisters to every Girl Scout and like the Armed Forces, don’t leave anyone behind. So no GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) was in sight, the snacks of the afternoon were fresh honeydew melon cubes and watermelon slices.
All weekend long, whenever we appeared in the dining hall for a meal, the leader’s mom would say, "here you go, I prepared it separately right from the start and used clean gloves."
Yes, her mother.
The young leader in charge of one of the largest and most dedicated troops of our area is a 20 something, Gold Award Winning, Emergency Medical Technician powerhouse.
She was one of the older girls I met when I first became a leader 7 years ago, working toward her Silver award. The second highest earned award for Girl Scouts.
Her gold Award was one of the first I was able to watch be earned. She made it look easy, although it is vast commitment to badge work and community service.
It’s the Girl Scouts equivalent to the Eagle Award in Boy Scouts.
If I was ever concerned about the state of the world, I just look around at how many young women are learning to lead in Girl Scouts and realize we are all going to be just fine if we listen to them.
So how did this devoted band of women manage to keep us all safe, while still staying within the First Nation’s Native American theme of the weekend?
Encampments always have a theme. It makes it easy for program, so the crafts included screen prints of Lummi Nation themed shirts, dreamcatchers, a wooden box for treasures to be decorated with fish, eagle or bear stencils.
And the theme was the inspiration for the food as well.
Which is why wild rice, salmon, apple and corn all appeared in the menu.
Now look again at that menu, can you see the gluten-full hazards?
Dinner on Friday, the chicken rice soup was naturally gluten-free since they started from fresh vegetables and frozen chicken thighs. I double-checked that the broth used was a gluten-free one. It was, so we were Safe!
We were served Ener-G brown rice bread with a fresh dish of margarine, to prevent cross contamination from crumbs. Got to admit, my daughters and I didn’t use the margarine, but the thought and care were appreciated.
I haven’t had any Ener-G products in over 5 years since I’ve developed so many baking recipes of my own, but it was lovely to include it in the meal. We enjoyed dipping it into the savory chicken rice soup broth.
Throught the weekend, bread products were a simple switch, we even got freshly baked gluten-free scones. Otherwise, the entire menu was quite naturally gluten-free.
We had packed along snacks of our own in case the meal was a bit lean, but were happy and satisfied as we wandered out into the pale sunshine for a bit of post dinner games on the fields before bed.
Being that it is Summer camp time, I'll spend this week sharing some of the recipe ideas they created. I went ahead and used this week as inspiration for some recipe creation.
Hearty and warming soup, perfect for campouts or Friday night dinner.
Yield: 2 quarts
Chicken and Rice Soup-Gluten-FreeBy Jean M. Layton,
Hearty and warming soup, perfect for campouts or Friday night dinner.
Yield: 2 quarts
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken thighs-cut into bite sized pieces
3 carrots- peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
3 celery stalks- chop finely
1 parsnip-peeled and chopped finely
1 large onion-peeled and chopped finely
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup wild grain rice-raw
one box of organic gluten free chicken broth (I used Pacific Foods)
one bag frozen organic corn, peas and beans (organic foursome from Trader joes)
1 teaspoon each chopped fresh sage leaves and fresh rosemary
1.Place olive oil into large stock pot over medium heat.
2. Allow the oil to heat for 2-3 minutes till very hot but not smoking.
3. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the carrots, celery, parsnip and onion.
5, Add pepper and salt.
6. Let cook for another 3-5 minute till the carrots and parsnip are a bit browned, the celery is softened and the onions are translucent.
7.Add the rice and let cook for another 2 minutes.
8.Add the broth, increase the heat to high and let the soup come up to a boil.
(If you wish, you can place all the ingredients into a crock pot at this point and let it stay at low heat for up to 6 hours. The rice will break down a bit though. You can sub out brown rice if you want more texture.)
9. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes.
10. Stir in the frozen veggies and herbs.
11. Allow to cook over medium heat till the veggies are fully heated.
At this point the soup can be held for late arrivals over low heat.
Serve with bread and butter.