Friday, May 23, 2014

Reese's Peanut Butter Brookies

Today my eldest works his first shift as a staff member at his favorite childhood summer camp. It is a father-son basketball camp. When my boys were young, they excitedly looked forward to this opportunity for bonding over basketball and hoped to be among those who would win shooting competitions throughout the weekend and wear the title (prized t-shirt) “Camp Champion.”

Years ago I learned with perfect knowledge that a champion can come in 747th place.

(Many) years ago I was at the starting line of a triathlon. I was surrounded by thousands of fellow athletes. I was in awe of my surroundings and the magnitude of this race my friend had encouraged me to participate in with her. I recall the race director, Sally Edwards, leading the next wave of swimmers in a mantra. It was a group cheer. Ms. Edwards told us that the mantra could serve as a critical crutch if during our race we allowed self-doubt to enter our minds. We repeated the mantra several times as the start of our race drew near.
I am a swimmer
I am a cyclist
I am a runner
I am a triathlete
At this moment the significance of the mantra seemed lost amongst the waves of participants. Soon, my race began. I darted out into the water fast and strong. Moments later, self-doubt filled me as if it were literally trying to sink me. I exerted every bit of energy I could muster and as I thrashed in the water, I seemed to go absolutely nowhere. My thoughts moved quickly to:
What am I doing here?
What was I thinking?
I certainly did not train hard enough.
I can’t do this!!
In an instant, I saw my training partner swim next to me. My mind clicked “I am a swimmer…” As I resumed my rhythmic stroke and breath, I repeated in my mind the mantra:
I am a swimmer
I am a cyclist.
I am a runner
I am a triathlete.
Truly in that moment of despair, I leaned on a learned truth about myself. That mantra became a source of pivotal importance to the completion of my race. It helped me remember who I really was, and what I was capable of.

Later, I reflected- What makes a champion?
I truly believe there is a champion within each of us. I also believe that being a champion is not about reaching the finish line first…it’s about discovering our inner potential.
Certainly there are some champions in your life that would appreciate these treats.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Brookies
• Begin by mixing and a brownie mix according to package directions. (I use 2 mixes in a 10 x 15.5 airbake pan.)
• Spray pan with Pam Baking spray. Spread brownie batter into desired size pan.
• Bake at 350 degrees for 28-36 minutes. (This really depends on what size of pan you use. It may be a few minutes more or less depending on the thickness of the batter. Basically the brownie needs to be fully cooked.)
• Remove from oven and sprinkle with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (I used 24 cups for 2 mixes) cut into small pieces.
• Mold Peanut Butter cookie batter (I used about 2/3 of this recipe) with your hands and piece together a layer of cookie dough to cover the baked brownies. Dough should be about ¼-3/8 inch thick.
• Bake an additional 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
• Remove from oven. Cookie portion of bars will be soft, but will set up nicely. Over baking them will result in crunchy cookie and dry brownie layers.
• Drizzle the top with 2 oz. melted Hershey Bar.
Let set. Cut. Share.

“Camp Champions” will be named this weekend at the camp where B is coaching. My hope is that every kid in his group understands what a true champion is. Champions are those who keep getting up no matter how many times they fall (or get knocked) down. A lucky shot can win a kid a title and a t-shirt. But the kid who takes his new camp issued basketball home and shoots and dribbles everyday to get better is the real champion. The kid who offers a kind encouraging word to a fellow camper or teammate is the real champion. The kid who is thoughtful enough to thank his dad for spending time with him is the real champion. Share these treats and encourage yourself and those around you to celebrate the champion within.

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