Category: Dining Hall News

More Than a Camp Meal – It’s Food For the Body & Soul!

Posted by on June 29, 2018

Treetops “Family” Enjoying a Meal Together

Thinking back to when I was a kid, I can remember how important eating dinner together as a family was to my parents.  Even though my Dad had a business to run and my siblings and I had sports practice, games, homework, piano lessons, and a number of other things I probably don’t even remember, rarely a day would go by when we didn’t sit down as a family for the evening meal.  My Mom did everything in her power to work around our busy schedules so that we could share time together around the table most nights until I graduated from high school.

Driftwood Awaits Dessert (notice the spoons!)

While I may not have thoroughly appreciated it back then, when I reflect on our family’s shared meal experience, I now realize how precious and sacred that time really was.  It’s no wonder that at camp, I always look forward to the ritual of coming together as a community to enjoy not just one meal, but 3 squares together: breakfast, lunch, AND dinner!  Let’s be honest, I also enjoy mealtime because I am always STARVING due to being on the move and keeping active during a typical camp day, so there is a basic need to be met.  Once my physical self is refueled and ready to take on the next adventure, my social-emotional self is also nourished from the act of being together with my camp “family.”

Hilltop Smiles!

What I know now that I didn’t know when I was still living at home, it that there are numerous positive outcomes that come from bonding over a meal.  Just the mere act of coming together and TALKING with one another is food for the soul.  Breakfast is usually a little more quiet than the other two meals (as you might imagine, pre-teens and teens are not fully awake just yet – unless it is Saturday which means DONUT DAY!), but there is the anticipation of an exciting day ahead while campers discuss what they are looking forward to with each girl’s schedule of activities.  Today could present the opportunity to canter for the first time in riding, learn to dive in swimming, practice a dance routine for the upcoming show, or enjoy making a picture frame in arts and crafts.

Hello, Tamarack!

Come lunch time, the dining room is filled with non-stop chatter as campers take turns giving a blow-by-blow recap of their morning and all that transpired in the past few hours.  The volume has definitely increased since we were last together, and the energy has more than quadrupled (if I had to wager a guess!).  Having a good chunk of time to sit around a table with your cabin offers an incredible opportunity to share thoughts, ideas, goals, dreams, stories, and more with the people you are getting to know in a group living setting.  In just a short period of time, campers feel comfortable and safe to be transparent and real in these conversations while enjoying a meal together.

What’s Up, Silver Birch?

When assembly rolls around following an afternoon of more fun and adventure, we once again file into the lodge for our 3rd meal of the day.  Some cabins sit in the “front” part of the dining room, while others gather in the “back.”  Both locations have their advantages!  Having a table in the front means you are close to the awesome fire that Chet builds many mornings (a plus when the air is a bit “crispy”), and being in the back means enjoying a view of the lake along with a refreshing breeze (if the weather calls for the windows to be open).  I vividly remember sitting at a table in the back as a counselor and getting to see an eagle perched in the giant pine tree right outside the door.  What a treat to have such a majestic creature join us!

Tamarack Continued

After the evening meal and another opportunity to check in with each other about afternoon activities and accomplishments, the CIT’s pass out song books and we enjoy time to sing together as a camp community.  Some songs tell a funny story (Ship Titanic), while others have motions (A Boy and A Girl in a Little Canoe) or offer a chance for the front and back dining rooms to sing in a round (Zoom Golly-Golly).  We wrap up this camp tradition every night by singing two legendary Woodland songs (W – That’s the Way it Begins… and We Are From Woodland, Woodland Are We…).

It’s the Sunnyside Bunch!

Another benefit of eating 3 meals a day together is that we take the time to SLOW DOWN and ENJOY each other’s company, which is a rarity in any other place.  We are able to relax a bit, reflect on the experiences a camp day has to offer, and revel in the laughter and fun we share as a cabin group.  Meal times are the BEST!

p.s. I should also mention that the food at Camp Woodland is delicious!  Most meals are served from “scratch” — don’t be surprised if your camper comes home with a few menu requests that are not your average fare!


Round or Rectangle and Why It Matters


Happy “Back-to-School” from Sunnyside!

We are starting our monthly blog sponsors again for this year, so a big thank you to Sunnyside 2014 for getting the ball rolling for our September post!  After camp I had the fortune of spending a week with my niece and nephews at Maplewood Resort on County D (in between Towering Pines and Woodland).  School started for them on the Monday after their return to Nebraska (so basically a week after camp ended), and they are already reporting that the balancing act has begun!  Being able to juggle homework, busy after school schedules of sports and other activities, and time for friends is not always easy regardless of being in elementary, middle, or high school.

When talking with my sister recently about the prognosis for the 2014-15 school year with her kids, she told me a story that I can’t stop thinking about.  Come to find out, my niece was anxious for most of the summer about returning to school this fall because of a new purchase in store for the school cafeteria.  At the end of last year, the announcement was made that the 30+ year-old rectangle tables that had become fixtures through the generations (they were the same tables that were there was I was a student!) would be replaced with brand-new round tables.


While it would seem that this announcement would be a good thing, it actually ended up being quite the opposite. The school administration thought that round tables would allow for ease of conversation among students, when in reality, it added to the already challenging and stressful negotiations that take place every day during the lunch hour.  When my sister delved into this issue some more, my niece explained that now she wouldn’t know where to sit at lunch.  She clarified further that all of the volleyball girls would sit together at one of the round tables, and that meant that there would be no room for girls not on the team to join in.  Naively my sister asked her daughter if she could just speak with one of the girls to see if it would be OK to sit there at some point in time, and my niece quickly responded with a big “No, Mom, that would NOT be a good idea!”

Evidently the long rectangle tables of previous years at least afforded the opportunity for students to appear to be sitting in a large group even if there were smaller groups clustered together within the masses.  So, my 7th grade niece decided to brave the very likely possibility of rejection and casually asked her friend of 10 years if it would be OK for her to sit at the volleyball table on occasion.  As expected, my niece was met with, “Why would you want to do that? and “I don’t think the other girls would like that very much.”  Interesting to note, my nephews faced similar scenarios within their own grade levels (6th-11th), so age and gender didn’t really matter in this instance.


So, what are the takeaways from this all-too-familiar scene in school cafeterias around the globe?

1) At Woodland and Towering Pines, even though we have both round and rectangle tables in our respective dining areas, cabins are assigned to their designated spot for each meal and campers are not left wondering if someone will sit next to them for each meal.  Counselors typically spread out amidst the cabin groups and often encourage campers to rotate seats so that mixing of campers is part of the normal routine at meals.  In addition, the counselors facilitate conversation at each table so that all campers are engaged and an integral part of the cabin community.  Spending three meals a day together for 6 weeks makes for a lot of togetherness and is great for cabin bonding!

(Kids: Thank you for showing your camp spirit and welcoming any student to sit with you this school year!)

2) The people making the decisions may not always be the ones with the best information.  My sister asked my niece if any students were interviewed to see if they wanted round or rectangle tables in the cafeteria, and as you might expect, the people whose opinion mattered most were not consulted.  Taking the time to listen to kids is what we do EVERY SINGLE DAY at camp…more often than not, kids have better ideas than most adults could ever begin to conceive!

(Adults: Thank you for taking the time to really listen to the kids in your life!)

BEST WISHES FOR A GREAT SCHOOL YEAR…we CAN’T WAIT to see you next summer!!!

Woodland Love,


Straight from the Camp Woodland Kitchen!

As we are getting closer to the first day of camp, I think we can all agree, we start thinking about all the yummy food at Camp Woodland. For new families,  the biggest misconception about all camps is that the food isn’t that good. Not here!  With all the choices we offer at every meal, there is something for everyone!  As of recent years, one of the favorite desserts that is made from scratch at camp is the Congo bars served during cookout.   If you want to read more about our food click on this link.

Here is the fabulous Congo Bar recipe:

2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, combine sugar and melted butter, blend well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla, add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well, stir in chocolate chips. Spread in pan and bake 25-35 minutes. Do not over bake! Cool before cutting into squares. Makes 36 bars.

Thanks Susan Jordan for creating this recipe!


How’s the food at Camp?? Mmm.Mmm.Awesome!

DSC07475The food at camp can be a cause of concern for parents and campers alike, but for different reasons. Kids wonder if there will be anything they like to eat, and parents may worry about healthy food choices or specific dietary needs. The meals at camp strike a balance between kid friendly favorites and delicious home cooked goodness! The majority of meals are served family style in cabin groups, which fosters the sense of community that makes Woodland so special.

 Woodland has an awesome chef who uses quality ingredients to create delicious meals and home made baked goods. Dan spoils us with plenty of choices. There is something for everyone including vegetarian, dairy free and gluten free options if there is a need. Allergy to peanuts or tree nuts can be handled to a certain extent as well.

Sysco Foods is our main food distributer, and they provide us with meats such as:

  • Antibiotic free chicken
  • 100% juice for breakfast
  • Fresh fruits -Served at least twice daily
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Real Wisconsin butter
  • Beverages with no high fructose corn syrup just to name a few!

DSC07476 What are the camp favorites you might ask? Fair warning…do not get between a Woodland girl and her Taco Bar! Enough said. Other favorites include homemade Pizza night, Lasagna, Salad Bar with home made Mac and Cheese and Breadsticks, Roast Turkey…the list is endless! So, don’t be surprised if your camper comes home asking for you to duplicate the awesome meals at camp!

Camp Food!!

Posted by on June 29, 2012

Food At Woodland!

Camp Woodland has one of the most phenomenal kitchens in Northern Wisconsin.  Ok, that might be a matter of opinion, but the food is quite exceptional and there is not a spot of food left on the girls’ blue Woodland plates by the end of each meal.  Our head cook is making almost everything from scratch using the freshest ingredients and camp-grown herbs.

We always comment that the fresh air in Northwoods makes us famished.  It must be all those fun activities the girls do every day.Here are just a few of the girls’ favorite meals from our weekly menu that may make our mouth water:

Fruit juice, water, or milk

Hot or cold cereal

Pancakes with maple syrup

Breakfast sausage


Homemade Lasagna

Italian Garlic Bread (freshly kneaded and baked)

Tossed Salad (Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots)

Dessert: Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies


Taco Bar!!! (Huge Hit)

Nacho Chips/Tortillas

Sliced Olives, Green onion, grated cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and salsa

Seasoned beef and chicken

Dessert: Rice Crispier Treats

*Btw – We are able to cater to girls with wheat allergies, peanut allergies, and diabetes. We also have yummy food options for vegetarians.