“One of the most integrated and effective ways that we develop leadership and team skills is the way that we plan and prepare our meals,” says Wilderness Ventures Rocky Mountain Coordinator Joseph Pinkard. “Eating together as a ‘family’ unit provides an immense service to our students.”
Wilderness Ventures trips are a shared experience with each member of the small group making important contributions so that everyone can have a fun and enjoyable time in the most amazing settings on the planet. All of our activities, whether rock climbing, sea kayaking or making meaningful contributions to local communities through our teen community service projects, rely on the shared contribution of all group members. The way that we eat on Wilderness Ventures adventures is no exception.
The Wilderness Ventures Cookbook is a culmination of 40 years of experience leading and feeding groups of teenagers in an outdoor setting. It provides a wealth of tasty backcountry and frontcountry meals – items that are both nutritious and kid-friendly. More importantly, it serves as a learning resource and guidebook for the group decision making processes that go into thinking about the nutritional and emotional needs of a group of your peers.
For many teens, their experience on a Wilderness Ventures trip is the first time they’ve been asked to prepare a meal. As with all of our adventure activities, our highly trained and caring leaders assume no prior experience on the part of our students and ensure the success of each component and each member of the adventure. All of our meal planning, cooking and feasting is structured in a way that ensures students exercise leadership and team skills while, at the same time, enjoying the success of a tasty and plentiful diet.
For example, prior to the adventure, our leaders will have pre-shopped for food for the first few days of the adventure. When the students arrive, our leaders help prepare the first comforting and welcoming meals and introduce the concept of “family-style” dining where we all sit and eat together as a group. As skills grow, and students get more comfortable, they’ll take more of a team leadership role in completing meals for the entire group. After completing the first major component of the trip, the group (with the help of the leaders and the Wilderness Ventures Cookbook), will execute their first successful grocery shopping expedition – planning meals for the upcoming days and purchasing the necessary plentiful ingredients before repackaging and organizing the items to be suitable for an outdoor environment. Of course, the Wilderness Ventures Cookbook provides guidance on ingredients, portions and preparation for each of its delicious meals.
Some favorite meals from past Wilderness Ventures students are backcountry pizzas and Mexican fajitas. “One of our primary objectives is to provide positive associations with wild lands,” says Pinkard, “One crucial way that we accomplish this objective is by making sure our students are emotionally and physically well fed.”