Serving a meal

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Part of making a great meal is presentation and serving. Ensure that you spend enough effort on presentation to make sure that guests have the perfect first impression. Good presentation often means that guests will overlook any imperfections in the meal itself.

Seated scouts at a dinner table

Laying the table

The whole character of the setting depends on the occasion. Is it a backwoods meal, where utensils are not used, or for your Springbok meal? Or is it just your patrol eating together at camp? A well-laid table is always balanced and neat in appearance. Everything should be properly spaced in relation to one another and should be spotlessly clean. Try to capture the theme of your menu in your table decorations. E.g. for a backwoods meal, carve utensils from sticks or hollow out oranges to use as cups.


For any meals at camp or at home, especially formal meals, it is a good idea to cover your table with a tablecloth. At camp a plastic tablecloth is ideal as it is easy to clean and will always look neat. But a clean piece of hessian is also acceptable and adds to the effect of being at camp, especially if your meal is a Backwoods or Dutch oven meal. A long strip of hessian can also be placed down the centre of the table as a runner.


  • Wreaths made from alien vegetation and decorated with pine cones.
  • Plaster casts of animal spoors.
  • Seashells scattered in the centre of the table (if you are near the beach)
  • If you are in an area where there has recently been a fire, burnt Proteas make interesting arrangements. (Do not cut or burn Proteas yourself).
  • A menu card
  • Cruet Set (Salt and Pepper)

Menu planning

Your camp menus should be well balanced and include foods from all the food groups. Each meal should contain a protein, a carbohydrate e.g. rice or potatoes and two different coloured vegetables, e.g. carrots and broccoli. Try to use foods that are in season as they are cheaper. Be aware that your resources on camp are limited. Try not to plan a menu that requires a lot of different equipment and includes meals that you have not tried before. This will save you time and a lot of stress. Make sure to find out all dietary requirements before planning your menu.

Correct service and table setup

  • Cutlery is setup from the outside towards the inside, the outside cutlery being the cutlery that you would use first.
  • Forks are placed on the left-hand side of the plate and knives and spoons on the right-hand side.
  • All glasses are placed above the knives.
  • Provide warm water for your guests to wash their hands before dinner when at camp.
  • Serve your guests first.
  • Serve the plate of food from the right of the person and clear the plate away from the left.
  • All drinks are poured from the right and when clearing the glasses, clear from the right too to prevent any stretching across the person.