Main Menu

Switch in dining habits improves camp experience, protects environment

Switch in dining habits improves camp experience, protects environment

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Switch in dining habits improves camp experience, protects environment

Oct. 13, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0561}

An e-Review Feature
By Jenna De Marco**

Imagine being able to positively impact the environment and increasing your community’s bond simply by sitting down to dine.

That’s precisely what happened to campers and staff during this year’s summer camps at the Warren W. Willis Youth Camp — all with a shift from buffet-style service to family-style dining.

“The real reason we did it was to create that community presence that we definitely want at camp,” camp director Mike Standifer said.

With family-style dining, campers no longer waited in long lines to receive their meals. Instead, everything needed for the meal could be found at the tables.

“All the food, the dishes, plates, silverware and cups — all that stuff was set,” Standifer said. “When they sat down they would literally pass the food, making sure everybody got something.”

Besides the improved opportunities for conversation and community, the switch helped the campers feel they had time to sit down and eat, something the long lines often didn’t allow, according the Heather Pancoast

Courtney Crump, a sixth grader from First United Methodist Church, DeLand, liked the change.

“I loved that because it used to take us forever to get into the line,” Crump said. “ … I got to sit with my friends that I came with from my church, and I got to make a lot of new friends.”

There were also very few complaints that no soda fountain beverages were served during meals, Standifer said. Instead, drinks included juice, lemonade, iced tea and water from pitchers at the tables.

“(There were) several reasons why we did it — we do feel like we need to provide better quality drinks (than soda),” Standifer said.

Years ago the camp served its meals family style, and Standifer felt that switching back would be wise.

“It really was going back to our past, really embracing something that had been successful,” Standifer said. “ … In terms of talking to our kitchen, we had a whole lot less food waste.”

Making the change to more permanent dining materials also helped cut down on waste from using paper cups, plates and napkins, according to Standifer, saving loads of garbage each week.

“When you started to add up how many paper goods we were using on a daily basis … you’re talking anywhere from 550 to 600 cups per meal. It was a phenomenal amount,” Standifer said, adding the total amount came to about 8,400 cups and napkins per week or “75,000-plus cups (per summer) that we were using once and throwing away.”

Now the camp has hard, plastic tumblers and coffee cups, dinner and salad plates, bowls, and cloth napkins to accompany the silverware used for each meal.

“It cost us a lot up front, but next year we won’t have to buy any of that equipment,” Standifer said. “In the long run, we are saving money, as well as saving the environment.”


This article relates to Church and Society.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**De Marco is a freelance writer based in Viera, Fla.