For two summers in college, I was a camp counselor at Camp Tecumseh, a fabulous YMCA camp in Brookston, Indiana. It was a tough job–hot days, late nights, kids everywhere, no privacy, little time off, an hourly pay rate of pennies [no joke–but not counting room and board :)], but it was also well worth it because it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I worked with 12-14 year old girls and absolutely loved getting into my girls’ lives–being part of their summer fun and also teaching them about faith and the role of God in life.
Every week and even every day at Camp T was different, and little was predictable short of the overall camp routine–and a big part of that routine was certain meals that we would eat every. single. week. Some, like mass-produced grilled cheese and hamburgers got old pretty quickly. Other things, like oreo pudding [that my co-counselor and I would smuggle outside onto the porch every Sunday night with our 8-10 campers, to eat with our hands. Mmmhmm. This was the first night of camp, mind you, so this was a great way to get the girls to bond
run off in terror.] and baked oatmeal, served every Wednesday morning with regularity, were more welcome to us counselors.
I found this recipe on Camp T’s website after I came home from week 10 and was detoxing from camp food/ and getting back into the swing of normal life, where I was somewhat shocked to learn that tye dye and bandanas were, once again, not fashionable. Who knew?
But this recipe was my saving grace and allowed me little glimpses back into the days where I dressed up for Friday theme dinners and spent mornings teaching beading and basket weaving. Now, seven years later, I am still transported back to my summers at camp whenever I pull a batch of this simple, steaming baked oatmeal out of the oven. I love topping my baked oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins, because, you guessed it, that’s how the Camp T cooks served it.
And truth–it would be blasphemous to serve it any other way. But you can enjoy your sweet, filling, comforting dish of baked oatmeal with whatever toppings your little heart desires… walnuts? bananas? pecans? blueberries? … but as for me, I’ll take each bite nostalgically holding to tradition, reflecting on my days of camp and wishing I could be there for just one more campfire, one more night in our cozy cabins, one more night with my amazing counselor friends… one more, one more, one more… I’m so grateful that I had the summers at Camp T that I did, and am equally grateful that I have this recipe today as a reminder of my time!
Did you go to summer camp as a kid? What was your favorite part? Your favorite meal?
Camp Tecumseh Baked Oatmeal
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 3 cups old-fashioned oats
- 3/4 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 cups skim milk
- raisins, for serving
- brown sugar, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together oil and sugar until well combined. Add egg and mix well. Fold in oats and baking powder, then stir in milk, being aware that all milk may not be necessary. The batter should resemble runny cake batter. Pour batter into a greased 9×9 cake pan or a 9 inch pie pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Serve with raisins and brown sugar.