Over the next few weeks, I slowly adapted to camp life. There were two rules for the staff: not to be late for work and to be discreet with the beer. It turned out that my job as a food service assistant meant doing everything Aaron, the chef, needed: chopping vegetables, washing dishes, arranging food deliveries, inventing dressings, deboning salmon, adding salt, stay away. Our hours in the kitchen were hot, fast and crowded, but I loved the teamwork, the delay of hungry geology students returning from the field and the freedom to make the menu however we wanted.
The work varied with the ever-changing pulse of the camp. One evening in July, more than a hundred people showed up for dinner – more than the dining room could hold – so we opened the kitchen door and ran out into the yard, carrying bowls of fresh salad. summer and platters of homemade veggie burgers. A few weeks later, at the end of the season, there was only half a class left at camp, so we put on freshly cleaned aprons and cooked a three-course French dinner.
At the end of each dinner service, we dumped PBR in red mugs, microwave leftovers that had gone cold hours ago and walked to the Lineup to watch the sun go down in the National Forest of Teton. My favorite evening sight was Cream Puff, a nearby peak watching us from the other side of 191. It boasted 4,000 vertical feet over a two-mile stretch and always seemed happy to send weary hikers back to camp. And yet, we felt the duty to pay homage to him.
“Why do Cream Puff when you can just gouge your eyes out with a spoon and it would be the same thing?” muttered one of the staff as we sank into the wooden benches the day we finally took our turn. On the nights when we bask in the calm after a good dinner, I savored the glow of the sun as it descended lower and lower to the foot of the mountain.