Kids In The Kitchen

Great hotels have long known that offering cooking programs for kids to participate in commercial kitchen production can be exciting and offer variety to their activities.

Adapting your camp kitchen to offer various kids’ chef programs can be a great source of new activities to offer your campers using a facility that is already there.

Following a few simple safety rules and basic organization can pay off in nurturing a lifelong love of good food and good nutrition.

Preparation Pepper

Few kids have seen the large volume of food that is regularly prepared in a camp kitchen. This in itself can be impressive. Kids will go home and tell their parents that they made soup for 100 people or made 250 cookies for lunch.

Offering a few levels of activities, depending upon the age of the camper, will keep cooking safe and fun for all.

If you’re working with young children up to 6 or 7 years old, give them simple jobs such as using cookie cutters, stirring things into bowls or decorating a plate or food pan with garnishes.

For older children most can use peelers or small paring knives to cut fruits or vegetables. For complete safety, avoiding knives for children up to 12 or 13 years old is a good rule of thumb.

Kids up to 12-13 years old can do many fun activities that do not require knives. Preparing, baking and decorating cookies can be one of the easiest activities for kids.

Portioning side dishes or desserts is a great way for them to see how advanced planning and preparation makes the service move smoothly. This is a great way for children to relate math, science, reading, and even art in a “real life” fun way.

No matter what the child’s age, close supervision is the most important safety consideration — that and teaching a child respect for the heat of an oven or a stove.

Learning about all the “big” equipment and utensils and what they are used for can be fun in itself. Include the Kid Chefs of the Day on the serving line as they dish out the items they helped make.

Cooking activities at camp can be as simple as a young helper in the kitchen and on the serving line to more formalized skill training for older children.

Consider contacting the chef at a nice restaurant or hotel in your area to visit and prepare something (kid friendly) they specialize in with samples for the kids to try. You could also ask the chef to participate in a special theme menu of the day that is served to the whole camp where the guest chef works side by side with the kid chefs.

Keeping the menu simple with fun twists can make this type of activity fun for all involved. The whole camp enjoys a special theme meal and the kid chefs are proud they helped and worked in a real camp kitchen. When the kids return home, they may even have a healthy respect for the meals they are served from their school kitchen.

Sautee Skills

Here are some points to ponder as you teach kitchen skills to your campers:

• Using proper measuring techniques to get a desired result is a fun way to show how math, science, reading and art all come together in the kitchen.

• Some equipment to avoid on Kids in the Kitchen Days include fryerlators, electric choppers, mixers and slicers. These are powerful professional tools and kids should not use them.

• We have spoken about safety in the kitchen for the children, but also stress good food safety and sanitation practices. Teaching children to wash their hands thoroughly, clean as they go and keeping their work area organized are great skills to learn at all ages.

• Keeping the class small and having enough supervision assures a safe and fun experience.

• Kids will make mistakes in the kitchen. Teach them that it’s okay to make a mistake. Mistakes are excellent learning forums as children can take what they learn from the mistake, adjust to the situation and move on to fix it. Many times a mistake hasn’t even been made; it’s just frustration at not getting something exactly right. Teaching kids that it’s not the end of the world and how to adjust is a great life lesson that goes far beyond cooking.

• Show your kid chefs the beauty and art in making something from scratch by hand. Rarely will something come out exactly the same, and that’s the beauty in cooking. Culinary perfection is not doing every action without a flaw — it’s in following a safe, organized procedure and the excitement of serving an item you helped create to a satisfied guest. Kids love to cook. Share the passion and satisfaction for creating something in your camp cooking programs.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. Kids & Obesity
  2. Dining Hall Design And Kitchen Layout
  3. Chow Time
  4. The Camp Kitchen
  5. Summer of Surprises
  • Columns & Features
  • Departments
  • Writers