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7 ways to keep your kids healthy at camp!

All posts, Fun with Food!, Healthy Family Tips, Kids' Lunches

7 ways to keep your kids healthy at camp!

1.Talk to your child’s camp. Establish a friendly relationship and ask them how you can make their lives easier. Then they won’t think you’re a nudge when you ask questions and make suggestions! And, you’ll know more about camp without having to ask and make them feel like they’re on Twenty Questions.

What you need to know: Find out what they’re feeding your kids, how often they give them water (or if they’re giving them something else to drink), and if they have a routine for reapplying sunscreen.

2. Sunscreen. In addition to finding out how and when your children are helped with sunscreen throughout the day, buy thoughtfully. Most mainstream sunscreens contain a number of chemicals that can contribute to cancer, hormone disruption and nervous system changes. Here’s a link to information about healthier sunscreen options. They’re not all more expensive and sometimes they go on sale or are cheaper online.

3. Keep them hydrated. Step away from the Gatorade and Powerade! You don’t need food coloring and corn syrup to hydrate. Cold, filtered water is plenty refreshing. Counselors can also make it fun by giving kids a choice of frozen fruit to use as ice cubes (and then gobble up, of course). You can either blend the fruit first and put it in mini ice cube trays or give them pieces of frozen fruit right out of the bag. Fruits like diced mango, cherries and pineapple are easy to simply purchase. You can also freeze fresh grapes. Trader Joe’s and warehouse clubs probably have the best deals on frozen fruit. If you really think your children need extra electrolytes you can give them a natural alternative: coconut water.

4. Plan before you pick them up. In the summer my kids always want me to take them for ice cream after camp. “It’s such a hot day. You know it’s perfect weather for ice cream!” Gee. Thanks. I hadn’t thought of that. They’re less likely to demand cold refreshment if I’ve already provided it for them, usually in the form of cold watermelon or green smoothies (tropical or chocolate flavor).

5. Give ’em a break. Chances are, your camp administrators and counselors are working very hard to make your kids happy this summer. Sometimes they just don’t have time to think through whether the popsicles have food coloring. Give them suggestions for healthier options and, if you can, even use your time to help. If you can’t, maybe someone else can. It could even be a daily activity for kids to make their own popsicles out of juice (no sugar added) or fruit puree. “Bunks” can go in on buying cool ice pop molds or simply use small paper cups and popsicle sticks.

6. Pack a healthy lunch. Here are some helpful resources for this. Websites: Lunch Box Bunch, Blogher.com. Books: Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, Vegan Lunch Box.

7. Bring in a sample. Bring some fun and colorful foods to camp to try out with the kids (with camp’s permission of course). That way you’re taking some pressure off the counselors. Here is one idea for Rainbow Fruit Skewers (from Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel). Don’t be afraid to use frozen fruit for the mango and pineapple!

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Here are pictures from some fun we had making flowers, hearts and stars out of fruit last year. We even found a natural watermelon heart!

Rainbow Fruit Skewers

Using wooden skewers, here is your rainbow:

Red: Watermelon (or cherries or strawberries)

Orange: Mango (Cantaloupe and oranges would work too)

Yellow: Pineapple

Green: Kiwi (or Green Grapes)

Blue: Blueberries

Purple: Purple Grapes

Have fun and let me know how it goes!

About the author

I make fruits and vegetables come alive for kids and families; You can build a foundation of lifelong healthy habits and attitudes through my Fruit Funshops, Mama's Nights Out, Blog, and Books: The Healthy Mama’s Guide to feeding your family well – Simply and Sanely and its companion cookbook.