Wednesday, July 17, 2013

0 Day Camp Cuisine: "Gluten-Free Energy Bites"

How to survive Summer Day Camp

plus a recipe for - Gluten-Free Energy Bites

My two GF children Josh and Rachel spend a few weeks in the Summer at a local day camp.  This is their 6th year at Park Camp in Buffalo, NY.  I am a veteran at this now but when they first started there was a lot to learn. Mistakes were made and stress was high. These are a few lessons that I learned along the way that I hope will help you.

1.  Do your homework and start early:
  • Find out from the Camp Director what activities your child will be experiencing each day they are at camp. 
  • Ask for contact information for the counselor in charge of certain activities.  For example, at Park Camp the kids have a scheduled activity called "Park Cuisine".  Each day they mix ingredients for a particular kid friendly recipe then get to eat what they made! 
  • Send the counselor an email to introduce yourself and your child.  Discuss your child's dietary needs with the counselor.  Most Summer Camp counselors are school teachers during the year and they are more than familiar with all of the allergies of today.
  • Inquire about other children that may have the same dietary restriction as your child.  This can be huge! You & the other parent may be able to work together as team to help out the kiddos! Plus, your child will not feel a "different" if they have a buddie with the same restriction.
  • Make a list of all of the activities that could have food involved and what food is going to be served
  • Purchase these ingredients ahead of time so you are prepared. 
2.  First day of camp:
  •  Instead of just dropping your child off at camp take time to park the car and meet your child's head counselor. This is where you take the opportunity to fine tune your schedule of events. Ask where, when, what questions.
  • Where are they having the event that requires a special GF item?
  • When are they scheduling this fun event (specific time of day)?
  • What exactly are they serving? Be creative here.  You most likely will have to substitute ingredients for GF.  Think of what GF ingredient could substitute for the gluten containing one!
Once you have the answers to the above questions you are well on your way to providing your child with a safe GF treat that they can enjoy. More importantly they will feel like part of the group!
Try to find out all of the answers to these questions on day #1.  This way you can be prepared

3.  Be Organized:
  • If you have a mobile device that allows you to take "notes" use this feature to keep a list of ingredients you may need.  Otherwise keep a small notepad in your bag to keep track of your items needed.
  • Use a calendar app on your mobile device (or a paper version calendar) to keep track of the food events and times.  I use the alert feature on my i-phone to alert me at certain times to keep me organized and stress-free!
4.  Communicate with your child:
  • Discuss with your child what is going on for that particular day.  For example, Day1 of my children's camp they were making oatmeal based energy bites in Park Cuisine.  I explained to both children that I provided the counselor with GF oats and that I checked all of the ingredients they were using to make sure that they all were safe for them. The camp counselor even took the next step and prepared a clean, separate area for them to mix there ingredients.  Josh & Rachel both understood what was happening and as Josh stated "Mom this is no big deal".  Great, I don't want it to be a big deal BUT it would have been a HUGE deal if I was not prepared for them.
Children need to feel safe & thrive on structure.  The more organized you are ahead of time the less stressed out you will feel and your children will reap the benefits from your efforts & maybe some day 20 years from now they will thank you!

Mix the all of the following ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Feel free to double this recipe-you'll be happy you did!
  • 1 cup GF quick cooking oatmeal (we used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter or soy butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Spoon the mixture on to a large piece of parchment paper or wax paper.
You will then start to form the dough into a roll.  Place roll in the refrigerator for one hour until chilled thoroughly.  Once chilled cut the roll into slices. 


 Eat and enjoy!
Sweet Madalyn- my daughter Rachel's BFF!!!
Let us know how you enjoyed this post and recipe! Please share with others who may benefit from this post.  Thanks & enjoy!

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