We’re excited to announce a new approach to camp kitchen management beginning with the summer of 2015.
It’s actually something that campers themselves won’t really notice because it’s more a “behind the scenes” kind of thing.
But whenever “behind the scenes” is made easier for the administration and facilities management, and more consistent for campers, then that improvement is a good thing!
And this sure falls into that category.
Our happy dining hall
Over the nearly 100 years that Camp Alleghany has been operating we’ve had a host of wonderful employees from the local community who have provided us with wonderful service, tasty food, and excellent professionalism.
We’ve come to know some of these folks for a long time when they worked for us for many consecutive years, and some for a short time when they stayed only one or two summers.
We consider ourselves so fortunate not only for their wonderful service, but also for knowing them personally, sharing laughs, and building warm relations. We’ve appreciated and enjoyed it so much!
With new plans afoot, we’re confident that the happy and loving culture surrounding our kitchen and dining hall vibe will continue for many years into the future.
Organizing a shift
In spite of how pleased we’ve always been with our kitchen staff, there’s another side to things, that “behind the scenes” piece that I mentioned above.
Managing the kitchen, which falls directly under Facilities Manager Garrett O’Dell’s purview, is about much more than the fun stuff, the yummy recipes and food for mealtimes.
It’s also about all kinds of things that are, to be frank, kind of wonkish (and maybe boring for the rest of us), but sure are critical to this very large piece of our camp program. It’s things like:
- Health department and food laws compliance.
- A Food Service Manager and employees who meet American Camp Association (ACA) standards.
- A way to consistently address food allergies and special diets.
- Consistency and structure from planning to implementation.
- Kitchen infrastructure — equipment and facilities.
- A menu that provides for the needs of all campers and staff.
- Food purchasing that addresses little overage and no shortage.
- Effective waste management.
Now, we always met — or exceeded — health and food safety laws, and we always strived to do our best on all other fronts, adapting to new phenomenon like a growing trend in food allergies and special diets, or using up-to-date food storage methods.
But none of us were or are from the food service and restaurant industries. That isn’t our specialty.
What this meant was that, while the food served was always excellent and thoughtfully prepared, with an emphasis on old favorites, and safety was always paramount, still, an excessive, even inefficient amount time was put into the learning curve of keeping up with all the “behind the scenes” stuff.
And that isn’t helpful for anyone.
When Garrett’s attention became too heavily tipped in the direction of “keeping up” with what amounted to a whole industry — institutional food service management — we realized it was time to reevaluate the whole way we approached the kitchen.
After much reflection and research and many conversations with other camp professionals, we’ve decided to contract with a wonderful company called KANDLE Dining Services which specializes exclusively in the camp industry, providing comprehensive, professional dining service management.
Not only do they handle the overwhelming bulk of all that “behind the scenes” stuff (excepting those parts which need our direct administrative oversight), they also bring with them an on-site kitchen staff trained for ACA standards and compliance.
This is what people call a “turn key solution.”
By going with KANDLE, not only will a whole range of duties that have increasingly become overwhelming, things like fresh staffing and new training each season, all the paperwork that goes into that, and new food contracts and providers, professional development for everyone and keeping up with industry best practices and on and on, be significantly minimized, but also we’ll be gaining a partner who themselves specialize in meeting and exceeding ACA accreditation standards.
This is a win-win, helping the rest of our administrative team focus on what we do best — planning and providing a top notch camp program that focuses on your daughters and granddaughters and nieces and friends!
Lunch under the Apple Tree
Of course, no service partner would be right for Camp Alleghany if that service didn’t have a “personalized” component.
KANDLE understands and delights in the fact that each camp they serve is a unique place with a style and traditions all their own. We’ve had the conversations to make sure that they know just what Camp Alleghany loves!
So rest assured that KANDLE will also be trained in what matters to ‘Ghany Girls — bug juice and milk and cookies, Lunch under the Apple Tree, Thanksgiving dinner, inside-out burgers, Carrie’s rolls, doughboys and beeferoni, grilled cheese, Sunday Breakfast, Banquet, and Carnival — among other favorites — will certainly remain a part of the Camp Alleghany dining and celebration traditions.
Also intact is our Hopper program, a dedication to meeting the needs of special diets or food allergies, and of course, having “seconds” and even “thirds!”
You can see that KANDLE gets a lot of love themselves — here’s a page devoted to some of the letters they get from happy campers all over the country.
Please join me in welcoming KANDLE to the Camp Alleghany family!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls