Camp Food

Cambridge District Scout Archives

Cambridge Archives

This collection of menus and food from the Cambridge Archives is intended as sample of what was available and what was chosen to eat and to cook on camp. 

1912    District Competition the bread making prize          9th Cambridge

1917    ‘In 1917, about 35 of us went to Impington to pick fruit for three weeks for Mr. Chivers, eight hour, a day: the strawberries were a severe test to our grit and to the strength of our inward works, – we wondered at first whether our hearts were weak: but, oh, those gooseberries! And we kept within a voluntary war-ration of 1 pound of bread a head per day, making good with cheese-rinds in the stew!’                    District Camp 

1917    Impington Fruit picking camp             ‘half a pound of bread a day, a quarter for breakfast and quarter for tea, and this still left us with a sack of wheat flour for cooking, not to mention the scones we made out of barley, maize and oatmeal flour.’ (Does not agree with the reporting above although the copy is difficult to read)

1918    Fotheringhay Flax camp         The food was supplied (by the army?)           ‘The food was supplied on a liberal scale especially as regards bacon and (at times) even cheese.  It was inevitably lacking in fruit and greens, but we managed to some extent to fill up the deficiency locally’.                C T Woods’ album newspaper cutting

13th Cambridge Hatfield Camp 1932

1932 2nd Cambridge camp

23rd A J Covell album, Cambridgeshire Collection

1940    Porridge, eggs sausages and toast                         60th Cambridge

1942 From the Evercircular letters a poem concerning 23rd Cambridge

1948 Re Army surplus ‘We even had US Army K rations which we were still eating years after the war had finished. they had large boiled sweets in them – if you started sucking them at lunchtime you had a difficult job to finish them by teatime.

1951    Cruise of the Adventurer        Two week’s afloat     12th Cambridge

Supper of bread cheese and cocoa                All the sausages and tinned milk had disappeared from Ely             Spam, potatoes and sauce and stewed apples and plums     A very superior meal of steak and kidney pudding and stewed fruit and custard              Buns and cocoa    riverside hostelry…ate potato crisps and drank, according to age, lemonade, ginger beer or something stronger                a grand meal of soused mackerel, fruit and custard   Irish stew and a sweet  cornflakes, bacon egg and marmalade          ‘made’ lemonade that was undrinkable                 plum pies                    liver and onions, potatoes and trifle fresh milk         lettuces and cabbage                      snack tea         meringues       crisps and cider

On this cruise some shops closed for lunch others, in Littleport, were open at 20.30.

On board the Adventurer

1951    Patrol Camp       12th Cambridge                       ‘each patrol attempted to cook its own breakfast as an experiment and it proved successful’

1956    Tarn mapping in North Wales ‘All praise to the catering committee (and to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for the quality of their new style dehydrated food).                                       5th Cambridge

1968    Summer Camp                                        54th Cambridge

Puffed wheat, ‘bacon butties’             Roast chicken, peas, roast potatoes, gravy, baked apples                 (tea) bread, butter, jam, instant whip         cocoa               corned beef salad       fish fingers, cake, bread and butter, jam                        stew and dumplings, rice and jam     Welsh rarebit Instant whip                 Mixed fry, chips, plum duff and custard

1977    Spag bol and fruit  Cornflakes and bacon and eggs               28th Cambridge

1994    When we got back we had lunch/dinner/tea (a meal!)’      

1994    Lunch ‘which was salad and apple Time Out (snack bar) and some corned beef’

2018    Patrol Camp            One week                            28th Cambridge

Patrols catered for themselves; items purchased for the central stores included oil, squash, bread, crisps, fruit, chocolate bars, butter substitutes, ham, cheese, cucumber, tuna, hot chocolate, Swiss roll, cakes, tomatoes, bacon, porridge, eggs, baked beans, sausage, apple pie, custard, peppers, onions, chicken, wraps, tea, coffee, milk.  Herbs and spices, pasta and other long life items were taken from home.  Outside these provisions patrols bought their own food.


‘We earned our sticky buns’.              In the 1920’s and a sticky bun was likely to be slightly sweetened thinly dotted with currents and given a (sticky) wash of sugar water.

2007 – 2018    The cakes requested and provided by parents for Cub camp central stores reflect the moment.  In 2016 the lemon drizzle cake came in droves.  The shop bought offerings had a clear shelf life.      28th Cambridge

Tuck Shops

Ken North reports running a tuck shop at camp at the age of 14 in 1926

Tuck shops sold liquorish at reduced prices mid camp to aid digestion.       28th Cambridge

Dietary concerns

Fruit and Vegetables   The earliest menu plans list fruit; local and seasonal and generally simply stewed.  Vegetables are less often listed in these menus.  C T Woods observation of 1918 that the Army provisions were ‘inevitably lacking in fruit and greens’ reflects most of these reports.  The need for variety and to balance all the dietary elements was understood, but the cost and the focus was to get enough ‘solid fare’ to feed the lads.  Food was not as readily available.  Vegetables were cheap additions sourced when they could.  Menus quoted below that I have experienced did not always list the vegetables that were present; others did not present any to list.  This was probably always so.

Vegetarians                 Vegetarian camp food was explained in The Scouter in 1932.         

Salt      2007 – 2018    Following government led concerns about excess salt in diets the cooks at cub camp had gradually stopped adding salt to meals.  At home the lack was compensated for by commercially produced food.  At camp most of the food was made from scratch and the lack of salt became obvious when the weather stayed hot.  Scouts too had to unlearn the same Department of Health lessons when cooking their own meals.  28th Cambridge

Camp Competition and special meals on camp

1977    Jubilee             Sparkling cider to toast Queen.  Soup, homemade bread, steak and kidney pie, peas, potatoes, red wine sauce, 4th course …..?  and cherry’s and peaches and other fruits and strawberries.  Grapefruit juice

1982    Garlic bread, Pitta and chili con carne, cherry and choc chip cake and almond slices

1994    Garlic bread, French fries, veg burgers, pain au chocolate, Apple Danish.  ₤12 50 budget (for the patrol and a leader)

1994    Galia Melon, Soup, Biscuits, Pecan Pie, coffee, Pepsi

1994    ‘Invited guides to BBQ – telephone numbers etc.’

1997    Chicken legs, Fanta, Strawberries, ‘Chicken tonight’ (cook in sauce)

2018    At a camp cooking competition over open fires the following three course meals were served by the patrols:

  • Trout and asparagus               Boiled beef with pot roast vegetables, broccoli,        mashed potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding            Cake cooked in oranges, berries and custard
  • Garlic bread                            Chorizo risotto                        Banoffee pie
  • Meat platter                          Steak, chips, peas                    Eton mess
  • Popadom mango chutney       Chicken Korma                        Eton Mess
  • Soup                                        Salmon, new potatoes, veg     Gateau (shop)            

The beef and risotto were excellent, the beef lost on cost and timing of courses.   ₤30 budget (for the patrol and a leader)

Entitled ‘A study in concentration’ the moment . below, reflects either that immediate need to feed, or the difficulties of eating on ones knees.

7th Cambridge 1938 Cambridgeshire Collection

JWR Archivist Jan 2019