It was a glorious, windy day. Conditions were ideal for giant solar balloons. All went well until one slipped away. Hoping the neighbor wherever it landed has a good sense of humor, or at least is reading The Blog to figure out what the heck the 100’ foot black thing is.
Red Zone Activities were on the schedule. That’s another opportunity for the guys to make an independent choice on what to do. For instance, Bunks 1-7 had the choice of Tennis, Bocce or Mini Golf while 8-14 had the choice of Lacrosse, Hilltop (art) or Basketball. 15-21 picked from Football, Ping Pong or Baseball, and 22-28 chose between Soccer, Spikeball and Hockey.
Although the schedule was a little different, Skydeck went ahead as usual. Skydeck is probably the most popular place at Camp Skylemar. Directed by Adam Shep, it’s a program that teaches some of the most important skills of life, typically overlooked in the school curriculum: cooking. Adam’s periods are not only about food preparation, but also about healthy choices. All this takes place in an outdoor cooking space, planned and built by Rich. In fact, we’re proud that a number of other places have copied Rich’s design.
Three groups use the Skydeck per day: Breakfast, Clinic and Dinner. Here’s how breakfast works:
As the boys assemble at the table, conversations start while looking through Adam’s collection of “Eat This Not That!” books. It’s a fun game to guess whether it’s healthier to order tacos or a burger. Once hands are washed, everyone learns how to properly crack an egg. Hold it like a baseball with a whole fist, gentle tap, thumbs in and open it like a book. They make breakfast sandwiches with turkey sausage, egg and cheese on a whole wheat English muffin. Sometimes it’s mint chocolate chip pancakes, made with whole wheat flour. Or, whole wheat French toast with a mixed berry reduction syrup. Notice a whole wheat theme here?
Dinners are completely made by the boys, and each camper has an important role. Knife skills are taught, as well as the concept of “mise en place” (having everything ready to go before assembly). It feels like a cooking show. In fact, that’s a good idea for a Sky video.
They start with dessert, since it needs time to chill. Today was Fresh Key Lime Pie, with homemade whipped cream. Yup, your son knows how to make the real thing. Appetizers are sushi, miso soup, baked buffalo wings or fresh salad with hand-crafted vinaigrettes. They actually love to mix the varieties of vinegars and oils. Before Skydeck, they thought that salad dressing only came out of a bottle; now they’re hooked on the real stuff.
Tonight’s dinner was steak frites (with fresh cut, baked French fries), grilled vegetables and caprese salad. They do a lot with marinades, remembering the steps with the word SOFA (salt, oil, flavoring and acid) for flavoring and tenderizing. Fresh herbs are incorporated from the garden, and they enjoy the assignment to “pick a sprig of rosemary”. Scraps are composted, or when appropriate, given to the pigs.
When we ask the boys why they love the Skydeck, here’s what someone always mentions: We really want to help in the kitchen at home, but parents are always in such a rush to get the food on the table that there’s never a chance for them to do the cooking. At Skydeck, we take the time to actually “cook”. By the way, Skydeck covers cleanup instruction, including the proper way to load a dishwasher. Just food for thought…