Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Yesterday at camp while I was eating my breakfast of blackberries and raspberries (yes, all you parents out there, the salad bar is chock full of fruit) I noticed one of the campers come in with his underwear on his head and socks stuck in either side to resemble long ears. And I thought, how great! Here is a child so comfortable with himself and his environment that he can go to breakfast with his underwear on his head. I have 3 kids of my own and underwear on the head is generally a good sign!
Well, a few minutes later more campers appeared sporting similar fashion statements with underwear on heads, swimsuits over jeans and layers of t-shirts on backwards and upside down. And then their counselor came in dressed as Buzz Lightyear. I watched the kids interacting with each other and their counselor and the joy and exuberance was contagious. I felt myself grinning like a fool. It was all of 8:30 in the morning and the dining hall was abuzz with merriment. I was no longer concerned about my lack of Starbucks or whether or not it was going to be hot, I was just happy. This was Monday.
Today, one of the Australian lifeguards came in to the dining hall wearing a backpack with a blow-up kangaroo poking out of it and handing out sparkly Australian flag stickers. Again, the energy in the dining hall was one of delight.
You simply cannot have a bad day at camp. The energy is vibrant and so alive. The counselor who thought to pack a costume, only for his camper’s enjoyment and, who he did not yet even know, is just aces in my book. The lifeguard packing a blow-up kangaroo for children’s amusement is so thoughtful, it is touching. The soul of any organization can be judged by its employees. This camp has soul.
When you come to a Jewish camp there is a feeling of community, a real sense of belonging that just does not happen anywhere else. This past Shabbat I had the pleasure of spending some time with the Executive Director of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. She told me about a wonderful program taking place here at Camp Chi.
Camp Chi is hosting FIDF(Friends of the Israel Defense Forces) LEGACY. The LEGACY program hosts the children of fallen Israel Defense Forces. The kids take part in camp activities alongside the American kids. I have seen the Israeli kids swimming, playing ball, participating in Shabbat services and often asking for any leftovers from my culinary classes. (all the campers line up outside the kitchen looking for leftovers!) The kids look like they are having fun.
The LEGACY campers are bar/bat mitzvah aged kids who come together to Camp Chi to be in a community of friendship and support. They are kids who have the chance to just be kids for a few weeks.
I cannot express how impressed I was to hear about this program and how proud I felt to be a part of the camp hosting these brave kids. Leave it to a Jewish camp to not only provide a fun, safe environment for kids, but also to reach out and help some kids remember how to have fun in a safe and inclusive environment.
Last week, I mentioned how lucky I was to be part of a Jewish camp. Well, I still feel lucky and I urge everyone thinking of sending their kids to camp next year, to think of a sending your kids to a Jewish camp. Think of sending your kids to Camp Chi.
More Culinary Camp Food-My Way
Chilled Corn Chowder
I love chilled soups. I think I love chilled soup more than hot soup. While I am not a fan of summer and hot weather, I enjoy the produce and the opportunity to make some great food.
Fresh corn, in season, is sweet and tastes like sunshine. Purchase your corn from a farm stand if you can. If you must purchase corn from the supermarket, be sure it is grown locally. Old corn, even a few days old tastes starchy and flat. Buy your corn as close as possible to when you want to eat it.
6 ears fresh corn, shucked and silk removed
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane (the kids love doing this at camp)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper
Garnishes: popped corn, grated cheddar cheese, fresh herbs, basil pesto, roasted red peppers, diced jalapeno peppers chopped scallions
1. Run a knife down the ears of corn to remove the kernels squeeze as much liquid from the ears as possible.
2. Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter or olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sweat the vegetables for 2 minutes until they are fragrant and soft.
3. Add the corn kernels and fresh thyme and continue cooking until the corn is soft and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes).
4. Transfer ½ of the corn mixture to a blender or food processor. Process the mixture until it is smooth. Add the mixture back to the pan and combine with the whole corn kernels. Cook the mixture for an additional 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
5. Chill the soup. Garnish with suggested garnishes.