Wednesday, November 30, 2016

311. Coffee

I remember the time I started drinking coffee regularly. It was the first summer after college. I was working up at my old high school as a summer camp counselor. This was the first time I worked with kids on a regular basis. I had to be enthusasistic, energetic, and entertaining. All difficult things for a college-age kid to do early in the morning. I had been an early riser for most of my life, but something changed around this time. I felt sluggish in the morning.

So I started getting coffee with breakfast. I remember that at first I needed cream with it. I would put two irish cream packets in my travel mug. At some point I switched to no cream. That’s what got me through many different parts of summer camp and college. I now drink 3-4 cups a day. I’m probably above-average. Hopefully it’s not unhealthy.

One of my most proud accomplishments was when I organized the golden mug challenge at Chippewa Scout Camp. Our busy time of the summer was the second week in July through the first week in August. That’s when most of the troops came. On our peak week, we had almost every campsite full. One site had about 100 people on it, and another was close to fifty. Usually troops were about 25 people all together.

As commissioner, I had to walk around to sites to make sure the leaders were happy. I loved that job because I was good at it. It was fun just to shoot the breeze and meet people from all over the state and midwest. During the busy week, I noticed that two of the biggest troops had their own espresso machines. They were some pretty funky gadgets. Most troops just had a simple stovetop coffee machine. I think one of those fancy ones was fueled via propane. The leaders would always want to stop and chat for a while and have a cup of coffee, I would happily oblige.

Of course, I brought up the other propane gadgets, and being scouts they were naturally competitive. Troops would ask if they had the best coffee. There was only one real way to settle this: a coffee off. So I announced the golden mug challenge after a meal and the leaders seemed pretty amped about it. I got a group of staff members to help sample the drinks on a morning in the parade field.

Boy were there some great creations. One troop shaved bacon chocolate into the drinks. Another guy made a camp-made orange cream using only ingredients in the dining hall. My one regret is maybe that I should have had sample size cups, instead of using whole mugs. We were all pretty jittery after that many shots of espresso. I tried replicating the program different weeks over the next two years, but with only slight successes. None of them matched the energy and enthusiasm of that week in 2009. Oh well.

That was the camp program I was most proud of. It also fed my (slight) addiction to coffee.

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