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Healthy summer camps for kids

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When I went to summer camp, one of my clearest memories is of the colorful lumps of mashed potatoes: blue, purple, you name it. The bustling mess hall at Camp Pendalouan in Western Michigan was not known for its food.

As kids away from home, we didn’t care. We cared more about how not to freeze to death during the morning dip in the lake, and the songs – some on the raunchy side – such as this one about grandpa’s whiskers:

“When grandpa goes in swimming, no bathing suit for him, he wraps his whiskers round him, then he plunges in. They’re always in the way, the cows eat them for hay, munch, munch, grandma eats them in her sleep, she thinks she’s eating shredded wheat, they’re always in the way.”

At least shredded wheat is kinda healthy (except for the gluten-free among us).

These days, though, with all the talk about childhood obesity and the need for quality, healthy food and exercise, it’s a good time to think about what your child might be eating – or doing – at camp. Turns out, Colorado’s a great place to be when it comes to fun camps for kids that also emphasize healthy habits.

Here is but a handful:

At Fitness Frenzy Day Camp, which is offered by YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, children aged 5 to 12 learn about fitness and healthy living. This week includes specially developed circuit training as well as the creation of easy, yummy, nutritious snacks.

Or, at Master Chefs camp, offered by YMCA of Metropolitan Denver, youth explore the fascinating world of food, how it is grown, made, and enjoyed. Campers will discover what foods are the healthiest and how to make them even more delicious.

YMCA of Boulder Valley offers a camp called Go the Distance for students entering seventh through 10th grades. The camp expands participants’ health and fitness through a wide range of challenging activities, including cycling, rock climbing, swimming, fitness challenges, group games and healthy cooking experiences.

At yoga camp, offered by the Colorado Academy in Denver, students learn about creativity for the body, mind and soul. Each day start with a yoga class focusing on beginning asana and pranayama. Students learn yoga and art simultaneously with class themes directly relating to and flowing into art projects.

Read about more camp options and get links to those listed above at EdNews Parent.  And please share your own suggestions with other parents here and on EdNews Parent.

If you’ve already got your camp plans firmed up, remember that you still have the power to pack your kiddo’s snacks. If you’re checking ingredients, avoid corn syrup, trans fats and words you can’t pronounce. Emphasize protein, fruits and veggies and whole grains.

Make sure you have healthy options on hand, such as:

  • Fruit
  • Veggies
  • Hummus
  • Cheese sticks
  • Water vs. juice boxes
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Power bars, such as kids’ Cliff bars
  • Whole grain pita bread or chips
  • Nitrate-free turkey slices
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Almonds
  • Mixed fruit and nuts
  • Fruit leather
  • Yogurt tubes

Some of these snacks obviously will require ice packs – especially if these lunches are left in a pile in the blazing sun some place.

In the end, summer is a great time for us all to re-commit to living an active, healthy life. We can’t blame anything on foul weather or “the holiday season.”

It’s almost here. So get ready to splash in a pool, take a bike ride, and munch on something healthy – such as seasonal fresh fruits and veggies. Don’t forget salad. That’s always a winner on a warm day. And for moms – iced coffee or iced tea. I’ve already made my seasonal switch.

EdNews Parent editor Julie Poppen is a former daily newspaper journalist who has covered a multitude of school issues in Fort Collins, Boulder and Denver. She is also the mother of a fourth grader in Boulder Valley and regular, though not always perfectly proficient, classroom volunteer. Read her weekly blog Confessions of a Partially Proficient Parent.

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