Fall Family Jubilee at the Southwest Y: A Party In Two Acts

ACT I: The Jubilee

In an odd autumn season that has fluctuated between scorching heat and dreary month-long downpours, you could easily say it has been a challenge for families to plan great activities together.

When Southwest Family YMCA scheduled its Fall Family Jubilee, they took their chances and put on a party in the backyard on Friday, November 16. Fortunately the hard freezes earlier in the week gave way to balmy sunshine, and families packed the pavilion to celebrate.  Tables were loaded with crafts to break the ice for even the shyest participants, and hot chocolate was on tap to warm everyone up.

Older children helped younger kids string beads together to make friendship bracelets that they traded with one another, and youngsters threaded perpendicular popsicle sticks with pretty yarn patterns to make decorations. Out on the lawn, grown-ups paired with kiddos to “Ski Camp Moody,” by coordinating their movements and walking together with their feet attached to 2x4 wooden beams!  

A father and daughter try to “Ski Camp Moody”

A father and daughter try to “Ski Camp Moody”

As more friends arrived, a couple of counselors and a handful of children led everyone to the stage to perform “Going on a Bear Hunt.” With binoculars in hand and fear at bay, these brave explorers bested a cold river, a dark forest, a snowstorm, and more to discover a bear in a cave! Good thing for them, this bear was a big fan of YMCA Camp Moody! She invited all the kids to sing along about adventure. At least one little girl helped herself to more hot chocolate while her mom wasn’t looking.


“Going on a Bear Hunt” lead these kids to a friendly bear who loves YMCA Camp Moody

As the sun went down, the pavilion became the gathering place for a few rounds of Campfire Stomp – a fun game that is a lot like musical chairs, but every time someone gets eliminated, they have to run over to the treasure chest and choose a prize! Not surprisingly, this was a popular game. While everyone else was collecting their prizes and showing them to their parents, at least one little girl collected herself some more hot chocolate!

Campfire Stomp was a family favorite

Campfire Stomp was a family favorite

ACT II: Campfire Cook of the Year

After everyone had a chance to win a prize or two, it was time for the main event: The Campfire Cooking Contest.

Judging the competition was Ali Khan, host of The Cooking Channel’s Cheap Eats (@blackbookali). Ali guides audiences on budget-friendly culinary adventures across America, and we were glad he could stop by. Ali was joined by Case Erickson, the producer of Trucklandia Food Truck Fest (@trucklandiafest) and tastemaker by default. YMCA CEO James Finck rounded out the judge’s table, bringing his level consideration to each dish.

Case Erickson, James Finck, and Ali Khan take their judging responsibility seriously

the judges consider each dish

Case Erickson, James Finck, and Ali Khan take their judging responsibility seriously. 

The YMCA of Austin is fortunate to be headquartered in a city with so many talented chefs, five of whom contributed campfire-friendly dishes to this competition. Emoji’s Grilled Cheese (@emojisgrilledcheese) presented a deluxe sandwich that blended jack and cheddar cheese and smoky crispy bacon between toasted sourdough slices. McCollum Barbecue’s (@mccollumbbq) frito pie riffed on the traditional campfire meal with surprising brisket chili and creamy sauce drizzled over the top.

Miguel Kaiser of T-Loc’s Sonoran Hotdogs (@tlocssonorahotdogs) impressed judges with his submission of brisket hash, versatile at the campsite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This tasty dish won the “Most Savory Campfire Recipe” category.

There could only be one Campfire Cook of the Year, though, and this year’s spatula went to Neil Joiner of The Black Forest (@blackforestatx). His innovative and flavorful campfire cornbread came served in a personal-sized cast-iron skillet heaped high with smoked pork, ember-roasted onions, pickled cabbage, corn nuts, and chipotle hot sauce.

The Black Forest’s Campfire Cornbread earned Neil Joiner the title of Campfire Cook of the Year! Congratulations!

The Black Forest’s Campfire Cornbread earned Neil Joiner the title of Campfire Cook of the Year! Congratulations!

YMCA of Austin and YMCA Camp Moody are grateful to all the chefs who were such good sports and spent their Friday evening in friendly competition to benefit Camp for All. Thanks to all the families who came to celebrate the season with crafts and songs and just one more cup of hot chocolate!


Roxanne Rathge
All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to info@austinymca.org

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