Cooking at the “Kitchen Stadium”

Cooking at the “Kitchen Stadium”

Here at camp, we are constantly thinking of new ideas and activities

to add to our already wonderful schedule. Two summers ago, we hit the jackpot when we introduced “Kitchen Stadium”. Our cooking program has given campers the opportunity to be in the kitchen, participating in an activity that is fun, delicious, and teaches skills that will last a lifetime.

There are so many positives that come out of a cooking experience:

Cooking allows us to experiment and use our creativity. This past summer, we incorporated a “cook-off” style activity as part of color war. It was a lot of fun to see the creativity of the teams. Cooking also helps us learn about nutrition and healthy eating. With childhood obesity being at an all-time high in the United States, and the easy availability of processed foods, it’s beneficial to introduce children to cooking with natural ingredients. Healthy eating habits children pick up at an early age will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle through the years. There is even a chance that they will try new foods they previously refused if they have a hand in the preparations. Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, and author of more than 25 books on nutrition and healthy cooking, says that “cooking with children can get them interested in trying healthy foods they might normally turn up their noses at”. At “Kitchen Stadium” we enjoy a good cookie or brownie, but our recipes go beyond the typical deserts kids love. We have made world class guacamole, quesadillas, and yogurt parfaits.

As parents, we can appre

ciate the valuable skills gained (without even realizing it) when in the kitchen, such as reading recipes, measuring ingredients, and following directions. It’s great that something so fun can reinforce lessons in science, language, math and creativity. Children also feel a sense of accomplishment and boost in self-esteem when contributing to the family meal. Think back to when your kids were toddler

s and they served up culinary masterpieces from their toy kitchen, or brought you a mud-cake they created in the backyard. It felt good to provide you with something they made and hear how wonderful you thought it tasted.

Cooking together also builds a sense of family

and closeness. At camp with your friends, or at home with siblings, cooking involves working together as a team. It’s a great time to bond and create memories that last a lifetime. There is nothing my kids love more than pulling their chairs up to the kitchen counter and helping make breakfast on the weekends. Everyone has a job to do, from measuring and mixing to cooking and serving. They seem to appreciate the finished product a whole lot more than when I pop frozen waffles in the toaster or pour a bowl of cereal during the school week. It may require a bit more patience and clean up, but it’s a nice moment to have and one that I hope they continue when they are grown and have their own families.

We can’t wait for Summer 2012 and getting back to Kitchen Stadium with new and exciting recipe ideas!!! We are also thinking of “kicking it up a notch” and creating our very own vegetable garden where we can grow and pick our own fresh vegetables and herbs to cook with – we will keep you posted on this as well.

“In the kitchen, we can be creative, and if the turnout isn’t what we wanted, it’s no big deal – it’s only food and it might still taste great. It’s the idea that you are cooking together and sharing with someone the result of your hard work and creativity. Every time I cook, I’m making new memories and learning valuable skills that will last a lifetime”. Rachael Ray (taken from the Yum-O! Organization web site).