On Saturday, October 7 thirteen scouts and five adult leaders from Troop 353 participated in the Gordon Hamilton Memorial Cook-off and dedication of a lean-to in Gordon’s honor at the Durland Scout Reservation. The day started out somewhat chilly and overcast but soon brightened. The first order of business for the day was the dedication of a lean-to in Gordon’s honor. As many of you know, Gordon was a longtime Scoutmaster for Troop 60 in Scarsdale and very active in scouting. If there was a district, national or even international scouting event happening, you were likely to find Gordon there swapping stories and collecting badges.
The lean-to provides not only shelter for camping scouts during inclement weather but is also used as an administrative office during the Boy Scout Day Camp held at Durland each summer. Troop 353 conducted the opening flag ceremony as part of the dedication which featured representatives from the Westchester-Putnam Council, BSA Area II and Troop 60.
After the dedication ceremony, it was time to head back to our campsite to prepare for the cook-off! The boys prepared an excellent meal of Alamo Chicken, grilled potatoes, cornbread, fruit salad and Pineapple Upside-Down cake (a Gordon specialty). The tastiness of the meal was surpassed only by the presentation to the judges.
All members of Troop 353, including the adult leaders, wore white shirts and black bow ties. Two of our scouts meet the judges in the parking area and escorted them to Chez 353 where they were greeted by a phalanx of scouts and ushered into their private dining room. The two waiters presented the first course of fruit salad while the “sommelier” poured two flutes of the finest sparkling apple cider. The judges then admired their meal while being serenaded by a violinist.
After asking the cooks some probing questions about the meal prep, the judges were escorted back to their car by two members of the troop.
After the presentation, the troop lined up and marched to the strains of the violin to the tasting area where the meal was presented to a different set of judges. After all meals and desserts had been presented to and tasted by the judges, there was a brief consult and then the winners were announced. Troop 353 won first place!
After a brief troop celebration, it was time to head back to the campsite to prepare dinner which was followed by a nighttime hike down the trail to visit Pack 353 who was also camping at Durland that weekend. Sunday morning was a quick breakfast and pack-up in the rain.
Despite the rain, it was a fun weekend. We learned a few cooking lessons, i.e. always line the Dutch oven before attempting to bake a cake and potatoes take a long time to cook. We intend to successfully defend our title next year and hope to have all of you join us.