Summer camp is a time-honored tradition in America. For over one hundred years, families have been sending their kids to summer camp to stretch themselves, have fun and make new friends. Summer camp is an opportunity for your child to develop independence and self-confidence by facing challenges on their own.
You may notice that your kids have a larger appetite over the summer – they’re growing and staying more active than usual while at camp. Stress, excitement and growth spurts all mean that your kids will need more calories to sustain them during this season. Here are six tips for how you can make summer camp lunches super fun for your kids.
Make It Together
Summer camp lunch is an excellent opportunity to start teaching your kids about cooking and nutrition. Make a date with your child every day to create their next lunch together. Your child will appreciate having autonomy, and you’ll be teaching them to take over this job for you in the coming years.
You can use summer camp lunches to encourage your kids to try new foods. Many children are picky eaters, but they may be more willing to try new foods at an adventuresome summer camp than they would at regular school. Encourage your kids to try new things and pack them a variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy carbs and protein.
Choose a Theme
Many summer camps have fun themes for their activities. Some theme examples include a place like the ocean or rainforest, a type of sport like soccer or football or a pop culture reference like Disney or superheroes. If your child’s summer camp has a theme, embrace that when putting together their lunch.
You can relabel food items with fun names that match the camp’s theme. Another option is to choose specific types of food depending on their camp – for instance, you could send seaweed snacks for mermaid camp. If your child is participating in a sports camp, it’s important to send high-calorie foods that will help them recover from exercise.
Exploring an Adventure Book With Your Kid
With multiple books on children’s adventures, it’s fun and rewarding to read them with your kid(s). Here are some tips that will enhance your child’s imagination as you go on adventures together.
- Ask your child to visualize themselves in the story.
- Let your child create a new book ending or chapter and you can explore those alternate endings together.
The objective is for your kid to have fun while being inspired to learn more about the world around them through the story’s adventure.
Find Fun Recipes
Many kids are happy to eat snacky food like carrots, crackers and cheese sticks. However, you can mix up these simple lunches and add some excitement to their day with complicated dishes. Muffins are a good place to start – you can try following new recipes and sending a different flavor with your kids every day.
Although new recipes take time and effort, they add important nutritional variety to your kids’ lunches. They might also inspire your child to try new foods, and many recipes are perfect for following a camp theme. You can use summer camp as a time for trial and error, to try new foods together and learn what your child likes.
Use Healthy Ingredients
It may be tempting to grab pre-packaged snacks for your child’s lunch. However, many of these meals have harmful chemical preservatives, added dyes and other nasty ingredients. Although it’s okay to eat these foods every once in a while, your child needs solid nutrition to help them grow and get the most out of summer camp.
Assess your child’s meal preferences and then choose healthy options. For example, if your child likes yogurt, transition them to sugar-free varieties. Kids can also benefit from whole-grain bread – important nutrition is often processed out of other kinds of bread. It may take some getting used to, but your child will benefit so much from eating a healthy, whole foods diet.
Make Their Favorite
As a surprise, make your kids their favorite food at least once during summer camp. This might be dinner food, a breakfast dish or a slice of their favorite dessert. Although good nutrition is important, it’s totally okay to break the rules and enjoy a more decadent meal once in a while. Your kids will be excited and enjoy showing their friends the goodies you packed for them.
Try to avoid foods that need to be reheated for this meal. If your child doesn’t like old mac-n-cheese, you could save that idea for dinner instead. It’s also important to think about whether your child likes their food to touch – you may need multiple containers to send a more complicated meal with them to camp.
Buy a Lunch Bag
Another way to make summer camp lunch fun is to buy your child a new lunch container. Depending on their age, you may want to purchase a lunch box or bag. Let them help you choose a new style – it could have their favorite movie character on it or be their favorite color. Help them decide which style and size would best suit them.
Choosing their own containers will make packing their lunches more fun for kids. You can show them how to fit smaller containers inside and have them clean everything out when they get home. This is another opportunity to develop independence and responsibility in your child. Teach your child about sustainability by sending reusable silverware and water bottles with them.
Summer Camp Food
Many kids look back at summer camp as the best part of their year. Free of homework and long school days, your child can engage in active movement, make new friends and build self-confidence while at camp. You can use this time to teach your child more about nutrition and taking care of themselves.
To make summer camp lunch super fun for your kids, start packing it together. You can follow a camp theme or try new recipes to expand your family’s taste buds. Because your kids will be active all day, it’s important to send meals with good nutrition. You can surprise your kids with their favorite meal and make their summer adventures even more fun by getting them a new lunch bag.