OK, this post definitely doesn’t focus on any impressive food, but I had to say a few words to fill in the almost week-long gap between our first and second visits to Philly. We attended the annual Estonian Boy Scout and Girl Guide camp (laager) held in Jackson, New Jersey. I went there every year growing up and my grandfather lives nearby, so the campground and the annual events held there were an essential part of my upbringing as an Estonian-American. J came there with me during our trip to America two years ago– he was welcomed with open arms and within days he knew the woods and trails as well as I do. He became a part of that family, the close-knit Estonian community I grew up in, and I couldn’t have been happier. So of course we volunteered to go help out there again this year (but not for the whole week– only from Saturday to Wednesday).
The camp is very, well, outdoorsy. Most people sleep in floorless army tents on cots, a chorus of crickets and other night creatures serenading us to sleep every night (I love that!). There are only two small structures on the premises with air conditioning, so if the weather’s hot, you’re hot all day, every day. Meals are served in a pavilion-like building– there are support columns and a roof but no walls, so the outdoors is never far away. Examples of what what we eat there? Let’s see:
There were also certain meals we had to cook ourselves over a campfire with materials provided by the kitchen. There was a breakfast of crescent rolls and breakfast sausages:
And a dinner of boneless ribs in barbecue sauce (cooked in a Dutch oven) with cucumber salad and potatoes:
Potatoes taste so good when they’ve been wrapped in foil and cooked under the hot embers of a campfire. They just do. I topped mine with salt and a bit of extra barbecue sauce. Dessert that day was pretty awesome as well:
Apple crisp made in a Dutch oven on the campfire. The apples had a slightly smoky flavor, which I thought was fantastic.
Breakfast offerings varied but I often just stuck to cereal, banana, milk and juice. I loved the days they also had yogurt and of course celebrated porridge day (it was cream of wheat, not oatmeal, but that’s ok). Meat was offered at just about every meal, so occasionally I avoided it (usually at breakfast– no bacon for me) because my body isn’t used to that much meat in a day. However, running around the campground in the heat all day is exhausting, and when I’m tired I’ll eat anything you put in front of me! I always asked for an extra scoop of salad, though… and if dessert was good, there was no shame in having seconds of that too :-). Overall we had a wonderful time there, and some people have already made us promise we’ll be back again next year. I guess we’ll see…