Headmaster’s Thoughts – August 2006

August! A month of vacation, beach, and warm nights. I thought it appropriate to the month if I gave a recipe for a summer dessert instead of philosophy.

It comes from the time when Jayme and I were co-directors of a girl’s camp in Maine, where we had met as counselors. The recipe is for a Tripp Lake Camp S’more, and anyone who has been to a summer camp should know that s’more is a contraction of….

To prepare for this frothy confection you need at least five young campers (in our case, girls) between the ages of eight and fifteen. They should be given the tools to build a small pit (preferably on a beach) on which they should erect a wood fire using available drift wood or fallen branches from the woods around the beach. Charcoal will NOT do.

Various items should be on hand. First, there should be a number of bags of cubed marshmallows (at least four cubes for every camper and six for every counselor). These marshmallows should be at least an inch square (the bigger the better, within reason). They are then jabbed on to the end of thin sticks which have been whittled to a point to ease the jabbing. The marshmallows will have to stay jabbed through an ordeal of fire.

The trick in camping is to get the campers to do the work. That is what their parents are paying money for, and the campers feel gypped if they can’t do all the heavy lifting… So do not be selfish and hog the work. It is, after all, the camper’s experience.

Also at hand are bars of Hershey’s milk chocolate. It is important that this be milk chocolate because sometimes an adult suggests dark chocolate. These adults should be sent to the kitchen immediately and forced to eat camp sprouts and beans. You also need several boxes of Graham Crackers. Since you will need two crackers to every s’more, my experience is that these go quickly and it is always better to have leftovers than run short.

Okay, here comes the action part, and it happens so quickly that if you were to film this, you might have to go into a slow motion mode. The pierced marshmallow is thrust into the flame and then withdrawn before it completely incinerates. BUT, it is partially incinerated. It should have the slightest cover of cancer-causing ash. The insides should be hot and runny. It should be a prospective calamity that would surely happen if left a moment longer. It must not be taken out too early. A boring warm marshmallow does not a s’more make. A great deal of skill is required in this timing part of the operation.

You slap the hot and runny marshmallow onto a Graham Cracker and get it off the stick any way you can (you are on your own here). Then you cover the marshmallowed cracker with a suitable size chunk of chocolate (generally the size of the cracker itself), and then you cover this with the second piece of Graham Cracker, thereby making a Graham Cracker sandwich. Wasting no time at all, you push the hot concoction into your mouth (“the Camp is not responsible for burned mouths…”), making sure that you get some chocolate on your shirt or shorts, and certainly all over your face.

To add flavor, the oldest among you will tell ghost stories as the fire burns slowly down so that, at the end, there are totally petrified little campers. Believe me, the flavor of the s’more rises with each child’s gasp of horror.

A simple dish needing some preparation but, in the right circumstances, well worth the effort.

Ronald P. Stewart, Headmaster
E-mail: rstewart@yorkprep.org

“Headmaster’s Thoughts” for previous months are archived in the section In the News. You may access additional months by clicking Headmaster’s Thoughts Archives on the same page.