If food is the key to a man’s heart, then that explains why so many nice guys are at Camp Skylemar. Ours is delish, and there’s plenty of it.
Lucky for us, we have the greatest kitchen staff in the entire world. Jr, Benjamin, Carlos, Superman, Byron, Adolfo, Fabrizio, Luis, Cesar, Sherri, Lily, David and Blake. Between them there’s over 70 summers worth of Skylemar experience. This all-star team knows exactly how to make people happy, and their “whatever it takes” work ethic is second to none.
For this talented crew, it’s Thanksgiving-style cooking for a family of 400 every day. Three times a day, that is. They understand that life here revolves around three essentials: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every meal has to be tasty, abundant and somehow pleasing for all.
The quantities are staggering. 600 pounds of wings served for dinner tonight, along with 40 pounds of pasta. 900 burgers grilled yesterday, and 21 turkeys (with 150 pounds of mashed potatoes) the night before.
For breakfast, 720 eggs are cracked and scrambled, over a thousand pancakes flipped and 48 cantaloupes sliced. After taste testing a number of peanut butter substitutes, we decided on “WowButter” - and go through over 30 pounds per day. A dollop goes great in oatmeal too, along with raisins, granola and just a touch of brown sugar.
Our double salad bar, served twice daily, takes several people to make possible. 36 heads of lettuce need to be washed and torn, 42 cucumbers peeled and sliced, plus green peppers, tomatoes, and a rotation of other fresh toppings. Junior’s yummy croutons are a favorite. They’re made from leftover grilled cheese sandwiches.
Food prep begins weeks before the kids arrive. Knowing that supply chain issues were predicted, Kitchen Manager Blake Shep, under the tutelage of Rich Snow (our retired food service and maintenance director), created a warehouse of dry and canned goods, so we’d never run out. Freezers were stocked, and the crew spent days making 12,000 meatballs to cover the season.
A meal is built around what the kids typically like, like tacos, chicken tenders, pizza etc. Then we add options like vegetables, side dishes, soup, sliced turkey, WB&J (wowbutter & jelly), fruit, yogurt, and PASTA. 40 pounds at lunch and dinner, so even the pickiest eaters have something they like. The kids love to select exactly what they want from the giant buffet, and it takes 19 non-bunk staff members to serve the four lines. Thanks to our new outdoor Dining Pavilion, we can use the Rec Hall just for service.
The importance of good food has been a constant at Skylemar since 1948, and we’ve always had a number of finicky eaters. However, what has changed in recent years is the number of allergies and food intolerances. This year we have a staggering 83 boys who need labels checked and special attention. We’re grateful to have Lily, a registered dietician, (and a beautiful person, inside and out) managing this. Each meal or snack becomes a puzzle, and many entrees must be hand-cooked. She does this all with love, doing her best to make life a little bit easier for those who need her assistance. In fact, today she bought out a grocery store of gluten-free dino nuggets, knowing this would bring a smile to a handful of kids.
So…if you’re tempted to send a care package, hold back. If he says, “send me candy”, be strong. We promise that his plate overflows, and he enjoys plenty of treats. After all, tonight was Movie Night, and a good concession stand makes the show.