Camp Lookout: Focused on the mission

It’s minutes before mealtime, and the kitchen is on hyper drive. The coleslaw comes out of the cooler. The chili comes off the stove. Another layer of steaming hot dogs go out on the serving table.

All hands are on deck, and the food and utensils are flying.

The same thing happens when we have our Dinner Party at Norwood United Methodist Church. We plan that meal for days, and volunteers kindly show up to help. Yet at the last minute, Marci and I are slinging spoons, ripping foil, and coaxing along one last dish to the finish line.

I used to think I love cooking because I like being alone in my kitchen. I’ve discovered I love teamwork even more.

The last three days, I’ve walked into a kitchen where the staff is different for each meal shift. Different people rotate in and out. Everybody has a job, but everybody pitches in to accomplish the overall mission, which is to feed the children and staff, and then to clean up and get ready for the next meal.

So today, I started by chopping onions and green peppers and spooning jalapenos in bowls as hot dog toppings. I replaced the lettuce, spring mix, and hard-boiled eggs on the salad bar. I cut up 96 expired hamburger buns into little bits so they can be made into croutons. I sliced tomatoes and put out condiments and stirred up fruit punch. I swept the floor and wiped off counters.

I’m 58 years old, and there are two 18-year-olds at Lookout who know a lot more about kitchen work than I do. I’ve loved being on their team this week. I love working with a woman in her 70s who shared not only cooking wisdom but stories about her life.

When the meal was accomplished, it was gratifying to see the staff members thank and compliment each other on how they came through.

I’m not naïve. I know people working together in any environment have issues and disagreements. But don’t we all love to see people with different backgrounds, ages, races, interests and opinions come together to meet a need and accomplish a mission?

I love it when we’re so busy working together on something important that we don’t have time to focus on anything else. There are hungry people out there.

Photo at top of page: Working with Sammy on the hot dog toppings.

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