Sunday, October 23, 2005

Extreme Camping/Extreme Cooking

Whew, what a weekend. I went to the Pomperaug District Camporee which was held at Camp Strang in Goshen CT. The weather was not ideal. Friday was fine, but during the night, it started to rain. It was one of those situations ripe for hypothermia. High temperature was about 50. It was cold, it was damp.

One of my jobs in Boy Scouts, is as District Commissioner. As the afternoon began, we got worried about the weather. Forecasts were for about 12 hours of steady, drenching rain beginning late afternoon. There were about 250 people there, but some were not ready for the weather. There were boys without rain gear, never mind gloves! The program ended early, and troops were encouraged to go home early.

I was set to join them, when the Scoutmaster asked me if I were staying. Two of the boys, who were well prepared, wanted to stay. So ... even though I had most of my gear in the car, I agreed to stay as the second adult. That also gave me the role of "cook."

It was the most challenging cooking experience I have ever had. First of all, as the day ended, it got cooler. At the same time, there was a steady 20 mile/hour wind, with frequent gusts up to 40! There was a fly over the cooking area (for most of the "event," but it was blown over about 1/2 way through the cooking.

The original menu was for baked, stuffed, bacon-wrapped pork chops accompanied by several vegetables and applesauce with a cobbler/dump cake for dessert. In the wind, and given that this was dinner for 4, we did not use the original plan. I kept minimal gear, and food. I had the 2 burner propane stove, the griddle, a pot, and the Scoutmater's utensil set.

I started the stove. Actually that took a bit in the wind. We had positioned the cooking area so that the lid of the stove was too the windward, but that was not enough shelter to get a flame, and improvised a larger windscreen which required at least two of the other three folks to hold down our contraption.

So, I started cooking. 4 fat chops on the grill. It was going slowly, until someone suggested that since they were already slit for stuffing, to just split them. Well, first they had to come off the bones, but that is what I did. It helped incredibly. When the chops were done, I took them off and put them in the lid/fry pan while heating up the vegetable. Voila, dinner. The applesauce (home-made) was served cold.

We ate quickly, and then put everything in the cars except our tents. Both the Scoutmaster and I moved our cars to the windward to act as a windbreak (of sorts).

We had identical tents. We both have the Mountain Pass XT (no longer available, looks like it was replaced by the Apex, although it is available from Campmor). Last March when we went to New Jersey I had purchased new stakes MSR "Ground Hog" stakes at Campmor . They worked great. Although it was interesting to hear the "sucking sound" that they made when I pulled them up the next morning.

Throughout the night the wind continued, and there were occasional showers. I was in my sleeping bag (having changed clothing) at 7:30 pm! The only problem with that was the necessary trip at about 3:30 am!

The wind shifted during the night, but all was well. I'll say the field was muddy in spots, because a week later, my car is still covered.

It was an adventure.


  1. How appalling. Luckily, my troop never went. Not sure why though...

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