Eating at summer camp

Soon, the regular daily routine will go out the window as we head into summer.

Kids will be out of school so there are no more bag lunches or after-school snacks.

When I was little, it was the thrill of popsicles and making my own sandwiches that I loved in the summer. Now, many kids aren’t as connected to their food, but we can get them closer to it without too much fuss.

My mom used to tell us that gramma fed her parsnips every time she made mom’s favourite dessert, lemon pudding cake.

It would take almost a quart of milk she said, to get through those parsnips, but she had to clean her plate before she could have dessert. My mom has never touched another parsnip since moving out.

As a result of memories like that, my mom instituted a family rule. My brother and I just had to try those foods we didn’t like each time they came around (the theory was eventually we would like them).

It is possible I was just too much of a hungry growing kid to care too much what I ate, but I did come through my childhood liking almost every food I tasted.

These days, the kids I meet are even more likely to be suspicious of unfamiliar tastes, at least in the savoury department.

The sweets on the other hand, are pretty much universally loved. Some things don’t change from one generation to the next, I guess. Popsicles will always be popular. Maybe at home we could use some sweet flavours to get them ready for more food adventures while away — at camp, or even a friend’s house for lunch.

My theory on this topic is that with so many more choices today, it is easier for kids to be picky. I have never hear of anyone being made to stay at the table to clean their plate. In addition, kids are more used to processed foods that tend to taste a bit sweeter so of course, less sweet things are harder to like.

But it is not a case of kids not liking flavour, For example, one of the most popular foods we have served at Girl Guide camps is Caesar salad. I don’t know that they would have chosen garlic-flavoured lollipops, but I do know that my hubbie’s practice of taking a flavour kids like and using it in other dishes seems to be successful most of the time.

(Next time, I will make sure I prepare a pot of the pasta with the leftover garlic bread-butter for those girls who don’t like tomato sauce.)

Another flavour I know many kids enjoy is balsamic vinegar. You don’t have to serve them a store-bought salad dressing, just a bit of balsamic drizzled over the veggies with your favourite oil will do nicely. Balsamic vinegar reduction is also a tasty sauce for chicken or salmon (a change from barbecue sauce).

You can even pour it over strawberries as a fun twist on dessert.

I know packaged foods offer the grown-ups a chance to provide something interesting for the kids without having to spend so much time preparing it. But perhaps we can mix up the prepared ingredients and the ones that come “as they are." 

Once at camp, the Guides did a great job of packing their own lunches from a table full of ingredients and they also managed to get themselves a pretty healthy meal, too. We could even take it a step further.

I wonder what would happen if we packed their lunch and they packed ours?

The thing that struck me about my mom’s horrible parsnip memory was that food (like life) should be fun. When you are a part of the process, things are almost always more fun.

If the only thing you have to do is unwrap a package, then where’s the fun in that? It’s almost as boring as parsnips.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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