Saturday, 11 May 2013

Outdoor cooking with the Guides







What do you do on an unexpectedly glorious spring evening? Enjoy a glass of wine? Be brave and test out the BBQ? Light 4 fires and teach 24 girls how to cook on them?

Guess which I chose?

Summer term is when our Guides hit their stride, we're outdoors as much as is humanly possible. Some nights we play rounders, others we borrow the Brownie parachute and have a whale of a time playing games some might think we're too old for, we have a campfire, s'mores and singing, and whenever we can, we cook.

Patrol cooking from a leader's perspective is sometimes a bit tricky. You have to let go, not control it, and to a certain extent let the girls make their own mistakes.

We start, as soon as it's light enough by collecting punk (or kindling) in old sweet tins. These tins are refilled each time we cook so that there's always enough dry material to start our fires.

We cook on metal crates, with metal trays on top of them so that we don't burn holes in the grass (not least as we share our hut with a nursery) Once you've got your punk lit, the girls add more and more bigger sticks and pieces of wood until they have good fires going. It takes a while for them to understand that we rarely cook over flames - no matter how pretty they look, but need the fire to die down so we can cook over the white hot embers.




This week was an unheard of universal success, some fires were lit with one match, others took a few more and the only injuries were a burnt finger (mine) and a stabbed toe (another leader's) In terms of safety, both for the girls and ourselves we have a few systems in place to try and keep us all healthy

  • Metal water buckets by each fire
  • No more than 8 girls working around each fire
  • Hair tied back
  • Long trousers
  • Closed in shoes
  • No one turns their back on their fire
  • We have heavy pot stands, oven gloves and tongs for the girls to touch and work with hot pots and tinfoil parcels
  • Stop. Drop. And roll is reiterated
  • Each girl is taught to light a match both confidently and safely
  • We work with the girls throughout the year using candles and campfires to chase off any fire based fears
The biggest boon to safety is confidence - not cockiness - but the knowledge that as long as you respect your fire and follow the safety rules you will be safe. We also try to maintain a ratio of 1 leader and 1 older guide per Patrol/fire.


This week we made Cheese dreams and camp bananas. Neither warrants a recipe as such, but I couldn't help but want to post them

Cheese dreams - ingredients

1 egg per girl plus 1 for luck
2 slices of bread per girl (we just use white sliced)
Grated cheese
Butter/ margarine

Equipment

Large bowl
Fork/ whisk
Tin foil
Table knife
Cheese grater
tongs
Pot stand
Oven gloves
Paper plates napkins

Beat the eggs in the bowl using a fork/ whisk
Put the bread in the bowl to soak up the egg mixture (as you would for eggy bread)
Sprinkle as much grated cheese as you want between 2 slices of bread and sandwich together
Heavily butter a double layer of tin foil (enough to wrap your sandwich securely)
Wrap your sandwich up and put it in the fire - the white embers
Cook until the outside is blackened - we found about 15 minutes was enough
Remove from the fire using the tongs
Using either the oven gloves or a leader's fingers (did I mention I got burnt?!) open the tin foil parcel and messily eat from a paper plate

Camp bananas - ingredients

1 banana per girl (and leader)
Chocolate buttons
Marshmallows

Equipment

Tin foil
Table knife
Napkins
Tongs
Pot stand

Slice down the middle of your banana so it opens up (not completely, you don't want it to break in half)
Fill the slit with chocolate buttons and/ or marshmallows
Wrap in a double layer of foil
Place in the fire - again in the embers
After about 15 minutes remove from the fire using tongs
Carefully open the foil using either the oven gloves or a leader's fingers
Enjoy, once again messily

As we cook through the summer, I'll try to post what we do - for many units they'll have been making these for years. But as I'm historically a Brownie leader who fell into Guides, 7 years ago I hadn't and appreciated help from any and all sources.

If you want to see more photos like this - on an almost live basis no less. Why not follow me on instagram?


1 comment:

rich (them apples) said...

My son went on his first Scout camp the other week. He came home filthy, exhausted, and full of tales of cooking bacon over an open fire.

This is the stuff that lifelong memories are made of, and it is a wonderful thing.

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