Nothing triggers an appetite like fresh mountain air, which is why quality food preparation is so important to us. It’s a known fact that food tastes better at camp and at elevation. Maybe it’s our terrific cooks or the fact that we love good food! Who knows? The food at summer camp is beyond yummy. In annual evaluations, our meals consistently draw compliments from our campers and staff with 85% rating the food as “very good” or “great.” And there’s lots of it!
Pass the Mashed Potatoes, please!
We serve lunch and dinner family-style, which yields many benefits. Family-style meals are when the components of a meal are put on the table in bowls or plates so everyone can serve themselves. The bowls and/or plates are passed around and put back in the middle of the table where more can be eaten if desired. Not only does family-style enhance the experience of mealtime by mimicking a large family meal, but it also promotes responsive feeding and encourages better self-regulation of intake and positive weight-related outcomes. At the beginning of the term, all campers and staff participate in meal orientation to learn the ins and outs of family-style dining.
For breakfast, campers eat buffet-style and enjoy a large selection of cereal choices followed by hot items – eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, pancakes, breakfast potatoes, burritos, English muffin sandwiches, hashbrowns, and more – that will satisfy even the pickiest campers. Sundays are special with homemade granola, fruit, yogurt, and cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and a hearty lunch before an evening cookout. At every dinner, we serve dessert. Thursday dinners are reserved for cookouts together as a unit or between brother/sister units.
Land O’Peaks Ranch has two large dining lodges: Ski Hi Dining Hall where Lower Ski Hi, Ski Hi, and Haiyaha eat, and Chipeta Dining Hall where Lower Chipeta, Chipeta, and Senior Chipeta eat. The Trail’s End Ranches each have their own dining hall. Each dining hall has an extraordinary food service team complete with a head cook, cooks, and kitchen assistants managed by our full-time Food Service Manager.
It goes without saying that mealtime is one of the best opportunities to connect with friends before heading out for the day and again over dinner when you return. Meals are meant to be fun, well-organized, and representative of camp fellowship served, of course, with excellent food! Tales of daring and fearless adventure fly across the tables as our food keeps a consistent smile on each of our campers’ faces. At every meal, we welcome and encourage polite manners, singing, conversation, and laughter.
Camp ‘n Cook
Bulk is an integral part of the Cheley Experience, referring to the lunches eaten whenever a group is on an activity that takes them out of camp. Campers and staff get unbelievably creative with combinations of the staple ingredients: tortillas, flatbreads, bagels, peanut butter, jam, salsa, pepperoni, salami, and cheese. The ‘bloody moose knuckle’ is a favorite for the more adventurous (everything except jam) or the more common ‘bloody elk’ (pepperoni, salami, salsa, and cheese) and classic PB&J. After finishing the savory (and going back for seconds!), campers and staff move on to what is arguably the favorite part of Bulk – the cookies! While on the trail, granola bars, oranges, apples, trail mix, honey stinger waffles, and more are also available to snack on.
The Flex Plan gives those on overnights the ability to customize their meals. While counselors plan the specific menu for each meal of an overnight, campers participate in helping to cook the meals whether over a campfire, using a backpacking stove, or grilling on a larger stove. During each overnight, there are items that each individual camper can cook – for example, silver dollars, hot dogs, jelly jammies, s’mores, and banana boats – as well as various methods used to cook (e.g., Dutch oven, griddle, fry pan, foil dinner). From angels on horseback to pork chops, egg in a hole to oatmeal, and king ranch chicken to mexi salad, the possibilities are endless!
Extending Our Menu Options
We strive to offer options that accommodate the special diets, dietary restrictions, and nutritional needs of all campers and staff. For every meal that has a meat-based main dish, we provide a vegetarian and vegan option. At every meal, a dairy-free option is available and gluten-free food items (e.g., gluten-free bread, pasta, tortillas, bagels, etc.) are available upon request. For those who prefer or require a milk substitute (whether for your cereal, coffee, or glass to drink), soy, almond, and oat milk are always available. While we are Nut Aware, we are not a Nut-Free camp: we serve peanut butter, granola bars, and some candies, snacks, and desserts that contain nuts or have been manufactured in a factory where nuts are present.
During enrollment, campers with allergies or dietary restrictions inform us of their nutritional needs. Not to worry — any dietary information listed on our required form is shared directly with our Food Services Manager, so we don’t miss it! Other than the options we already offer, we are rarely able to accommodate extreme dietary decisions and changes mid-summer.