By Tara Cavanaugh
Green Adventures Camp is a beloved Rec&Ed gem. The eight-week camp provides hands-on math and science inspired instruction, field trips, exercise and even lessons in nutrition for students from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Last week on Aug. 15 the students toured Chartwells’ kitchens in Pioneer High School to learn how to make healthy snacks at home.
“We have a ton of food tasting this week,” said Green Adventures veteran Natalie, who has attended the summer program since kindergarten. “We make food, we eat the food, we enjoy the food, and then we leave with full bellies.
“This is a cucumber sandwich,” she added, happily munching away. “It’s really good!”
Natalie’s cucumber sandwich was made with ranch cream cheese filling. She also learned how to make cucumber-watermelon-mint yogurt smoothies and veggie pizzas.
“Where are all nutrients in the cucumber?” Chartwells Assistant Director Patty Guck asked the students as they assembled sandwiches. “In the skin!” the students answered correctly, having learned about nutrition in their morning Green Adventures lesson from AAPS teachers and Rec&Ed environmental educators.
“And how many vitamins and minerals are in a cucumber?”
“We really want kids to think about food justice, where food comes from, who gets good food and what it takes to grow healthy food,” said Robin Schultz-Purves, a coordinator at Rec&Ed who helped found the camp. “We also talk a lot about power foods and slow-me-down foods, and how you need a balance of those.”
Another goal of the week is exposing students to different foods. “They’re discouraged from saying ‘Ewww!’” Schultz-Purves said. “Instead, they’re encouraged to say, ‘How interesting!’
“And it’s the same when they’re doing activities like looking at bugs.”
The produce used in the kitchen that day was harvested by Green Adventures students, helping students see the farm-to-school connection.
Around 200 students participate in the camp each year, and longtime fans like Natalie will be happy to learn that Rec&Ed piloted a four-week Green Adventures for middle schoolers this year, which it plans to do again next summer.