Summer camps for grown-ups have surged in popularity in recent years, with more than one million adults going to camp each year. These getaways often combine sing-a-longs and bonfires with “flip cup” tournaments and costume parties, allowing people to revive childhood memories or experience the tradition for the first time.
But Meat Camp is neither the sleep-away camp you may remember from your childhood nor its rowdy grown-up imitation. Founded in 2015, the three-day retreat in northern California teaches attendees how to butcher their own meat and grill it over a wood fire.
Dozens of people attend annually, and registration starts at $A1,800 per person.
One of the camp’s five annual sessions is exclusively for women. Anya Fernald, cofounder and CEO of Belcampo Meat Co., which hosts the camp, wanted to create a safe space for women to learn culinary skills that are traditionally considered “men’s work.” Here’s what it’s like.
Meat Camp welcomes people of all experience levels. Past attendees include a Google engineer who built his own sous vide machine and a woman who was afraid to cook meat on her own.
With the women-only session, Anya Fernald, founder of Meat Camp, says she wants to change the perception that grilling is a 'man's job.'
Fernald's farm sits at the foot of Mount Shasta, 24 miles from the Oregon border. Her company uses sustainable practices to raise livestock and process it for butchers.
Fernald opened the space to overnight guests for Meat Camp in 2015.
Meat Camp attendees learn a wide range of skills, from basic cutlery to butchering whole chickens and lamb shoulders. There's also a focus on learning to trust your instincts over the grill.
Fernald sees the camp as a way for women to claim a different type of role in the kitchen. 'The feminist movement was so much about getting out of the kitchen,' Fernald said. But the kitchen is where she feels most calm and creative. 'It's my meditation.'
There are also sessions on making spices, crafting the perfect bolognese, and learning to cook using your five senses. Attendees rely less on recipes and more on smell and taste.
The day culminates in a 'chop extravaganza,' in which guests can grill as much steak as they want. 'It's a chance to play with the product and not feel worried if it goes wrong,' Fernald said.
This year's camp will have a greater emphasis on stovetop cooking, since few urban dwellers have access to a wood fire grill. Most campers come from Los Angeles.
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