Summer Camp Mac
A Simple Meal and a Lifetime of Memories
The people who give you their food give you their heart. - Cesar Chavez
Summer camp for me was my home away from home for a week during July. Where every year friends that I only saw at camp came together on the shores of the James River to hangout, play and learn. To say I was excited to go every year would be an understatement.
But, like the changing of seasons the inevitable happened and the last year we could come to camp as campers was upon us. We were all in seventh grade and that meant the only way we'd be able to return was as junior counselors, which had a limited number of slots. The thought of competing against any of my friends for one of those coveted slots was unthinkable.
Especially since this found family of sorts was the entire reason I came to camp in the first place. I couldn't imagine a week at camp without any of them there and didn't want to.
It should be no surprise that the week went by much to fast and we were closely closing in on our last day together. It's true what they say time flies by when you're having fun. Which is when we had the idea to sneak out and have a last minute celebration. Just us a send off to our time together over the years.
Lights out was at 8:30 so we decided to meet up around 10. Since this would give us plenty of time to let everyone else fall asleep and lessen our chances of getting caught. Not that we'd get in a lot of trouble. But none of us wanted to get a stern talking to on our last night.
We met behind the chow hall. Which was essentially a large screened in porch attached to a kitchen which led to larger building they used for group activities. Two of the girls had brought a couple of 2 liters of soda they'd snagged from one of the camp classes. For a side we had a couple of half eat bags of chips.
But, the most important part was the main course. Inside the kitchen we found exactly what we were looking for a couple boxes of Mac and Cheese and some cans of tuna. Not exactly gourmet but at that time it was all I really knew how to cook outside of a couple breakfast dishes and ramen.
Now the trick to making the perfect Summer Camp Mac is to add butter a little bit of milk before you stir in the cheese mix. For even more cheesy goodness you can always do what we did and add a handful or two of shredded cheddar to the mix and stir it in until it gets good and melty.
With the heat on low add the tuna. The most important part to remember before adding it is to make sure you fully drain the cans. Last thing you want is to turn your perfectly good Mac and Cheese into a watery mess.
While it wasn't the best dish I've ever eaten it's definitely one of the most important ones. We sat around talked and ate until the sun came up in the morning. Leaving no mess behind we went back to our cabins safe in the knowledge that we wouldn't be found out and could enjoy our final day of camp.
It's been 15 years since but from time to time I'll still make a pot of Summer Camp Mac and remember the fun and friendship I felt during that final fleeting week of summer.
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