By Camp Pinnacle’s chef, Richard Merritt
Like all of us here at Camp Pinnacle, I hope all of our campers will find their best selves this summer. To be at their best, children need to feel safe, appreciated for who they are, and know they are wanted and needed. For many campers, this is their first time away from home and on their own. Our camp kitchen is the front line where kids can feel the warmth of home. That’s why our kitchen is always ready with a warm cookie, fresh fruit, or other treat to reassure our campers that Pinnacle can be their second home, and that they are truly valued here.
I am on mission to turn campers from fussy to foodie.
“I don’t like it!” “Have you tried it?” “No, but I know I don’t like it.” Does this sound familiar? One of the biggest questions I get from parents is how we get their children to eat so many different things—foods they’d never try at home. I often say that an increased level of activity makes children hungrier than normal, and when kids are hungry, they’ll eat just about anything! In reality, I am more proactive then that. Philosophically, I understand that the palate of children usually doesn’t extend far beyond cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, and pizza. While we will serve these items perhaps once a session (comfort food), we always have other food on the table that expands the culinary boundaries of what a typical child might eat. We love variety, and we love vegetables! So for every meal, we encourage selection and variety. And campers find a wide variety of fun and healthy foods at Pinnacle.
All summer long, we’ll offer selections like ripe South Carolina peaches, or cool slabs of watermelon, or fresh farm butter on morning toast and homemade muffins. These are some of the sights and flavors of Camp Pinnacle. I grew up with big gardens and grandparents who were dairy farmers. The flavors of summer to me were the produce we grew at home or got from our neighbors’ farms just down the road.
I want our campers to have a similar food experience at Pinnacle. I want to partner with our families in teaching children to source their food in an ethical and environmentally sound way. I believe it’s important to know where your food comes from and develop healthy eating habits early in life. More than 80 percent of the produce we use at camp is locally grown—most grows within 50 miles. All our milk and butter is farmed and produced at a local dairy 20 minutes away. I support “Farm to Fork” dining, and I source as much food locally as I can.
Food also plays into Camp Pinnacle’s core values, which include the five R’s. Trying new things is a reasonable risk. Reaching out is encouraging others in their food selections. Taking responsibility is making healthy food choices. Respect is the effort put into the meal and cleaning up after the meal. Finally, having resilience is to not like something, but to move on without a fuss.
I look forward to getting to know the campers this summer and putting smiles on their faces through healthy and tasty food!