It was two days before camp. I had logged a 100+ hours of planning and preparation and as the plausible head cook and chief bottle washer of Peace Village, I had to turn to Bill Weiler, our fearless and ever-cheerful camp director/leader and ask, "Why are we feeding the campers this year?". Without hesitation, Bill proceeded to rattle off multiple reasons. Never before was I so glad to ask what I thought was a really "dumb" question. Reproduced here is a list that I will now share with you:
Top Ten Reasons to Serve Peace Villagers Food
1. Provides an equal opportunity for all PVers to nutritious and wholesome, quality foods.
2. Eliminates the sources of waste from individually packaged foods.
3. Supports local growers and producers of food.
4. Promotes Unity among staff and campers.
5. Provides sensational and tasty learning opportunities.
6. Builds Community.
7. Develops a sense of Responsibility and Service.
8. Witnesses passion and commitment.
9. Celebrates Seasonal Abundance.
10. By nourishing others, we nourish ourselves.
It was a load off my mind to have clear intention and purpose to what I was intuiting all along. It just took collective genius to say it aloud and with a huge smile. Yea, Peace Village! I am so proud of us all for believing in ourselves and trusting that we can do what we set out to do even if it may have not been perfect. We weren't sure if we could handle the task. Thankfully Erika Rench stepped up to the plate and got it all rolling. She gifted us with her "Kitchen Witches" which was an amazingly potent contribution to food prep and service.
We love opportunities for growth and serving the kids was awesome. I personally promise that next year, we will offer more variety for the lunch menu. We had to keep it ultra-simple this year. That's the reality of what is possible when we have an almost exclusively volunteer-based camp. So, I will keep my promise if we at least match the number of volunteers we had this past camp which I believe was 25 in the kitchen alone! Way to go, Erika!
Speaking of opportunities, our Food, Source and Service segment was new to camp this year. it was fueled by Jody Behr's intention to share her and others' passions and commitment to eating joyfully and healthfully. The service component was a natural addition; it's what we do as a community of campers! I think at some camps it's called KP (Kitchen Patrol), etc. More on that later...
In our morning sessions we did "KP", learned and sought to understand why good hand washing is so important. We prepped a simple salad and sampled the fruits of our efforts. We learned about our "Daily Food Item" which was the highlighted item for lunch that day. On Monday, we explored eggs, Tuesday: Ham, Wednesday: Carrots, Thursday: Cheese. On Friday, each group got to decorate their own cake! After the kids got to experience the daily food item in a kid-friendly kind of way, they then served lunch to their groups and shared the sourcing information such as: Where did it come from? How far did it travel to get to Peace Village? Who grew it/raised it? Who made it? Why did we choose it for the menu? The kids served family-style lunches on re-usable trays and cups. Each day at snack and at lunch we had "Celebrated Seasonal Abundance Samples" whether it was hand-picked-with-love and home-grown blackberries, cherries, plums, green beans. All were donated by local families and picked by staff, campers or PV family members.
There was an underlying, consistent support of our local gleaners led by Bruce Bolme, a friend of PV who managed to provide us with loaves of bread, tea and random other food items. Gleaned food is food that would otherwise go to waste. It is perfectly edible, it's just glut that most people do not know what to do with it. Bruce gave a brief guest appearance and explained to a small group of the campers what the Gleaners do.
Throughout camp, we were very aware of the importance of being objective and simply promoting the asking of questions and being an observer or witness of the food we eat. We did not want anyone to feel that they were right or wrong for their particular food choices. Simply witness the food we were serving.
Which leads me into our afternoon activities which started off with Service, of course. (But guess what? Observations point to a clear, universal principle that campers do not like the service component of KP. We were not expecting this. What "good" PV camper wouldn't love clearing trays and picking up scraps? I do not have the answers to those questions but I will tell you that what you can expect next year, is that we will make Service more fun, more fashionable. If anyone has a magic wand or a great idea to make this necessary component of camp more alluring, please contact me personally or the Peace Village website. We welcome all gimmicks and tricks to making Service seem voluntary, fun, etc., etc. For a lot of us grown-ups, service isI fun when we're with friends, but we're not kids are we? Please bear with us and support us in our mission to incorporate this necessary and vital aspect of service at Peace Village and help us make KP more of what it wasn't.)
After cleaning up from lunch we played a game involving food, detectives and witnesses. Jody, Sullivan and I made it up ourselves. It was a bit shaky the first day and then got better and better with time, understanding and practice. It was a fun way to learn/witness a food item. We tried to keep it simple while managing time constraints and varying age groups. All in all, we thought it was fun and ended up with a taste comparison of the particular food item. The kids seemed to enjoy it - especially those after the first day.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of food and PV this year was the amazing fact that after 4 days of camp we had created less than 4lbs of garbage. The trash did not even fill 1/2 of a garbage can. I kept asking everyone if they had thrown out the trash. I asked the MCS custodian, principal, any and every one! if they had thrown out the trash and no one had! Unbelievable. Even more unbelievable were the efforts of Master Recycler Jody Tepoel. She single-handedly sorted through our waste and categorized it into Chicken Food, Compost, Recyclable and Waste. Our kitchen staff was on board with a minimum of training and the campers were informed of this amazing fact throughout their week at camp. Bill afforded us very dramatic observations. Thank you, Bill. It really helped us to understand how cool it was that PV was so environmentally friendly! We were living proof of this Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle system working. I have to believe that the dramatic reduction of waste can be attributed to us feeding the entire camp. Yee-haw!
In closing, it is my hope that you now have a better understanding of what we did at camp this year, what we hope to aspire towards next year. And know that we are asking you to help us. Now. We can start by creating a menu. Sourcing the items. Figuring costs. Making prep lists. Gathering of kitchen helpers, recipes, ingredients. On and on. Please, we love what we do and it is so much better when the whole village is involved. We love Peace Village and we want to establish its culture and we feel that food is one of our basic needs. It connects us with one another. Please refer back to the Top 10 Reasons to Serve Peace Villagers Food and please join us. Or else we'll be eating more ham or veggie sandwiches every day, again , next year!
Peace Within, Peace Among, Peace Around,
Head Cook and Chief Bottle Washer
Peace Village 2012
Peace Village Staff and Volunteers share mostly during the week of camp. Sign up above to receive notifications of blog posts and you'll never miss the latest news.