Sunday, July 19, 2009

Conclusion of Boy Scout camp

Webelos sessions are ahead, but we have successfully closed a good Boy Scout camping season. Since the response to the blog has been positive, there are plans to continue posts throughout the year, though on a less frequent basis. We hope you continue to enjoy the content.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dr. Chuckles

The last (and with his humility, he would want to add "least") dining hall staff member is Chuck McAllister. This is his 12th summer on staff, and he describes his role as "serving at the pleasure of the camp director and director of camping." Staff would describe Chuck's role as part psychologist, part chaplain, and part brother or father. For the dining hall, Chuck meets the delivery trucks about 5:45 AM and stacks the boxes in the storeroom. He tries hard to explain our rules to the table waiters; for instance requiring empty bread bags for a replacement loaf so as not to waste bread. Chuck also enjoys tasting the cookies to ensure that quality standards are being met, and he prefers the soft ones. During the rest of the year, Chuck is a business professor at Southeast Missouri State University. It seems to us that he is widely admired and respected both at and apart from Camp Cedars.

Friday, July 17, 2009


'Tis the season where the caged staff animals are lacking of ways to entertain themselves, so they start pranking program areas. This morning, the Rotary Shelter was plastic wrapped quite well with a chair suspended in the middle, and we saw the lakefront staff carrying a canoe back toward its rightful home. I'm not sure what else might have gone on last night, but the dining hall is understood to be untouchable. At least staff knows that if they play with fire, they won't eat.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How many am I serving?

Last night was a little hectic in the dining hall. In addition to camp, we issued food for Scoutmaster's dinner, Easter Seals at Camp Eagle, and the council properties committee meeting. Unexpectedly, two additional tables had to be set in the dining hall. It's pretty hard to get table-ready food to appear from thin air. This got me thinking about the time that I scrambled the most in the dining hall. Unquestionably, it was 1990. It may have rained every day during staff week. Given the construction activity, camp was not ready to open, and Week 1 was postponed. The troops who had registered for Week 1 were told to come "whenever you want" later in the summer. Just how do you plan, order, and cook food for an unknown number of campers? Some weeks we were filling bowls 3/4 full and hoping we had enough to go around. Other times, we were throwing away 4" pans full of food. It was certainly a stressful, miserable summer for the dining hall. From that first summer comes my paranoia about having an extra day's worth of food on the shelf. We maintain high standards in the dining hall, both quantity and quality. As former staff member Gilligan used to say, "There is always food in Mom's dining hall," and every meal was his favorite.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I was asked about the time that I was the most surprised in the dining hall. It was probably my 60th birthday. Unbeknownst to me, my family had approached the program director (Chuckles) about a surprise birthday party. In addition to the cake they provided, Chuck arranged for camp to purchase food and another cake for the corresponding Sunday staff lunch. To maintain the secrecy, Chuck had some sort of story about how I wasn't supposed to cook lunch that day. Something happened....either I forgot, missed the memo, or opted to prepare food regardless (better safe than sorry). When Chuck arrived for the week and saw that I had cooked lunch, he was terribly disappointed. At some point during the meal, I was coaxed out into the main part of the dining hall for celebratory song, and my family walked in through the kitchen. I was completely surprised.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is there a doctor in the house?

I met Dr. Dennis Crabb in 1991. A Scout had been cut just above the right eye during some sort of horseplay. I watched a gentleman taking down benches and pushing two tables together, trying to figure out what was going on. Before I could approach him to ask, he had the Scout on the makeshift operating table and was stitching the cut. Several times since then Dr. Crabb has sterilized medical equipment in boiling water in the dining hall. Fortunately, so far this week, his services have not been required.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Liver & Onions

Former Director of Camping Duane Kosmicki and I liked liver and onions while our spouses did not. Duane would bring the liver, and I brought the onion, potatoes, and cast iron skillet. We would cook over the stove in the kitchen and then tell stories at the picnic table outside until we couldn't eat any more. Sometime after the camping season was closed, this was our tradition for about 4 years, and it is one of many fond memories of Duane.

Trudy Kirchmeier

After volunteering for several years, this is Trudy's second on full-time dining hall staff. She and her husband Tom have owned and operated Ace Refrigeration of Sioux City Iowa, dba Refrigeration Engineering for the past 32 years. As such, they have been supporters of the dining hall and providers of hard-to-find parts for our equipment. Sons Jake and Bryan work in the business (and you already know of their youngest Marty). Trudy and Tom have 2 grandsons and a dog named Sadie. Trudy helps Pack 214 coordinate activities, is the committee chair of Troop 183, and also serves as a unit commissioner. She attended the 2005 Jamboree and has twice been to the the Philmont Training Center. When not working or Scouting, Trudy enjoys quilting, scrapbooking, and traveling.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

O Christmas Tree

The dining hall had its first live Christmas tree this summer, a 12-14' cedar that brushed the ceiling ducts. Since the variety of cedar that we have in this region of the country is simply a weed, it looked like a Charlie Brown tree, providing a very campy appearance. The people involved with this epic project were: Chuckles - idea and tree selection, Marty - decoration, Matt Wilkinson - Scoutcraft mastery, and Dave Tasich - transportation. Stories will be told.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cathy Pieper

Cathy is our dining hall staff newbie who is a general worker bee around the kitchen. She is curious and inquisitive about camp and the various programs offered. We genuinely appreciate her service and could not have asked for a better first-year cook. We all hope she comes back for many more years, and the fact that Harvey has not yet scared her off is a good sign. Cathy is in her 30th year as an elementary office associate for Fremont Public Schools. She has a wonderful husband, 3 daughters, and 7 grandchildren. Cathy really enjoys the kids at school as well as family activities and vacations.

Cathy and Charlene made us a "Christmas Lunch" today that consisted of meatloaf, creamed corn, lettuce salad, au gratin potatoes, dinner rolls, blueberry salad, pumpkin bars, and pecan fudge pie. Every dish was absolutely delicious.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Staff Infections

When staff starts dropping to illness, I often wonder whether they are really sick or if they are taking the opportunity to count spots on the ceiling of the health lodge. Whenever any of the children were sick enough to miss school, my mother would make us take a tablespoon of castor oil. We all knew that if we were sick enough to take the castor oil and its consequences, we were truly sick. If not, we went to school. Maybe it's time to PIW (Put In Writing, our internal camp order/request system) a bottle of castor oil?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

One of my favorite memories

One Thursday night when NBZ was a new program, we cooked an especially big spaghetti meal for the benefit of the Foxmen who had been on scant food for the day and were on silence. I was walking around the main part of the dining hall, and a particularly small Scout, about a minute long and half a minute wide, is sitting with a canvas headband fervently eating. His Scoutmaster is watching him inhale spaghetti. I commented, "It looks like you are enjoying dinner." The Scout nods, grabs my arm, and kisses the back of my hand several times.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Christmas in July

This is Christmas in July week at camp, and the dining hall is decked out in greenery and lights. The celebration is geared toward staff who tend to need a little extra perkiness at this point in the camping season. I play along for the good of the staff, but you will not find me staying up late on Friday night for all of the revelry....I cannot stand either the commotion or mess in the building and have to be up regular time on Saturday morning.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grace Kubik

This is Grace's third year on staff, originally recruited by her brother-in-law to fill a midsummer shortfall in the kitchen. She has cooked for Millard Public Schools for 11 years. One of Grace's responsibilities is taking care of the special meals for campers with dietary needs. This can be challenging because due to a mishap earlier in the summer, she needs administrative approval or supervision to use the microwave. Grace is our favorite target to harass; she takes it well and also returns the favor. Her NBZ tribal name is Enduring Diamondback. We joke that's because we must endure her. Both her husband and 3 sons are members of Mic-O-Say in the Diamondback clan. Grace also has a daughter, 5 grandchildren (plus one on the way), and a Jack Russell terrier named Charlie (also known as Chuck-Chuck).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pillsbury Pancake Packages

I've always wanted to do pancakes for camp, but the problem has been keeping them hot long enough to get them to the tables. Pillsbury introduced a new product....8 silver dollar-sized pancakes in self-serve ovenable bags. Thus, we tray up packages of pancakes, bake them in the ovens, and put 8 packages in each bowl that goes to the tables. Given the response this morning, they were a definite hit. Next time we do them, I want to serve them with link sausage to have something different and provide a little different flavor than the sausage patty. Similar to not being able to do meatloaf for weeks of large attendance due to the availability of oven and heat stack space, I'm not yet sure about our pancake capabilities, but we're sure going to try.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Perhaps it isn't the most pleasant topic, but have you ever wondered who maintains the dining hall restrooms? As a part of the honor unit criteria, troops are responsible for cleaning them on a daily basis. To keep them extra clean, the dishroom staff gives them a second daily cleaning. When plumbing problems arise, we rely on Marty and Dr. Chuckles to solve the most common issues. Otherwise we call the camp director and rangers. Given the high usage, we think we do a pretty good job of keeping the restrooms clean and operational.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Grumpy Old Men of the Dining Hall

Otter and Harvey - where does one begin. They arrive every morning about 5 AM, have the ovens going, heat stacks turned on, and coffee perking before I pull in around 5:15. Otter's igloo is the large walk-in freezer. Whether it is cookie dough, chicken fried steak, or the golden wall of ham, Otter has a place for everything and keeps a very good inventory in his head. Harvey's domain includes the sausage gravy for biscuits. We occasionally try to confuse him with the number of cans of gravy vs. powdered packages vs. gallons of water. It isn't the easiest math for 5:00 in the morning, but he does well. Both Otter and Harvey collaborate on the Jello. We have lots of Jello stories through the years, but you really have to be a part of the dining hall family to understand. I can be clear about at least two things. First, Otter and Harvey do not get paid for their efforts in the dining hall that extend beyond their normal and already extensive staff responsibilities; they have simply chosen to help due to their commitment to camp and ensuring that the dining hall runs as smoothly as possible. Second, we can always count on Otter and Harvey to keep us entertained. I wouldn't know what to do without them.