I actually have no idea how Ellen Weidner got the name Charlie- she had it long before I had even heard of LVR. Charlie gave us something that we all desperately needed this summer- food. She’s been serving LVR as the summer cook since some of her now-grown kids were working as counselors and the camp happened to be in need of kitchen help. Now an experienced veteran in mass-culinary skills, she had no idea what she was getting into when she first offered to fill the position.
Arguably few jobs at camp carry as much stress as kitchen duty. Feeding anywhere from 20 to 150 people three meals a day is only part of what Charlie manages. She also has to organize everything, order and inventory the huge food shipments, train and oversee constantly changing helpers, and make sure the kitchen fulfills all of the health department and childcare requirements. Planning a menu to please everyone is invariably complicated by campers with every sort of food allergy known to modern medicine.
Kitchen assistants showed up at 6:30 each morning to start work on breakfast- Charlie is in the kitchen at least an hour before them. The job isn’t done when dinner is served. There are piles of dishes, leftovers to store, and things that need to be prepped for the next day. After these tasks, the kitchen is scrubbed down, swept, and mopped. Working in the kitchen affords few opportunities to get off your feet in a very long day. Charlie even relished taking boxes to the incinerator as a short respite from the kitchen and a rare trip outside.
A mother of seven boys and two girls and proud grandmother of a growing number, Charlie loves to talk about her family whenever she gets the chance. Her endless store of anecdotes only give hint of all the experiences she’s had and sacrifices she has made. Sometimes the stress and frustration of the job would get to her, and she just needed to be left to herself for a while. But no matter how hectic things get, Charlie always comes through and gets the job done.