Pathfinder Pathways

Cooking for a Group

Few things are more intimidating than the first time you’re put in charge of cooking for a large group at a campout. You’re not sure what they like, how much they will eat, or even how to work the stove.

Hopefully whoever did the cooking before you can give you some tips on what worked for them. If you are the director it’s nice if you have a great cook that takes care of everything for you. But even if that is the case, sit down with them and outline what you expect from them. Cover details like camping schedule, cost, cooking utensils available, etc. When assigning someone to do the cooking, don’t micromanage but do double check.

Some of the best cooks fly by the seat of their pants and will tell you that they don’t like to write things down or they will tell you "it’s real easy – just throw a little of this and a little of that in and it will be fine." For those of us that are "cooking or recipe challenged" that is just not enough information. And this can cause real problems if for some reason they can’t go on a campout. Don’t keep things a secret, share your knowledge, if others know what the menu is and what food is going to be used for each meal, it will be easier for others to pitch in and help. Also remember that the Pathfinders should be learning by watching and helping so that some day they can cook too.

Keep a notebook

Having a notebook is a great way to keep cooking information in one place. Include a section for each of the following:
         Favorite menus
         Recipes and amounts
         Kids food allergies & medications

There may be times when the teens and juniors go on separate campouts, in which case it might be a good idea to have two notebooks. Have a page for each of the club’s favorite meals. Include a chart with the items that are needed. Then figure out how much is needed for one unit, half the club, and the whole club or whatever.

Leave room to write notes about things such as whether the ingredient amounts were good on each page. Then after a couple of campouts make changes to the chart until the amounts are right.
Use plastic page protectors to put each page in. That way you can take the page out when you need to make notes. Put in a few blank pages so that if you see something that another group is having that looks great you will have a place to make a note of it.
What’s on the menu?

It’s doubtful that you’re going to see very many cookbooks being used when cooking on a campout. Meals are usually fairly easy to cook with plenty of food. We all (well most of us) know how to make haystacks or cook spaghetti. But it helps if you have a list of menus that includes the amounts needed for the entire meal. Also it’s a lot easier at the grocery store if you know that one head of lettuce will serve about 12 people for haystacks.

Here are some ideas for menus that you could use.
French Toast
Hot and Cold Cereal
Hash Browns
Veg. Breakfast Meats
Lunch or Dinner
Hot Dogs
Mac and Cheese
Stew Pack
Rice and Beans
Soup and Sandwiches