Cooking Up Some Fun at Summer Camp

Cooking camps have become a popular choice for many children over the past few years. With an abundance of cooking shows on television geared toward children, such as Master Chef Junior and Chopped Canada Junior, there is way more interest in cooking at a younger age … and that is a good thing!

Cooking is one of the most important life skills that a person should learn. Culinary classes and camps introduce children of all ages and skill levels to the wonderful world of cooking and baking. It has become increasingly important for children to learn how to cook nutritious meals at home because they are regularly exposed to fast foods and unhealthy food choices.

In Canada, obesity rates among children and youth have almost tripled in the past 30 years.1 Children need to learn how to choose healthy foods and cook nutritious meals to avoid health issues as they get older. In addition, when young adults head off to college or university, so many students don’t know the first thing about preparing a meal. Parents need to help equip their children with culinary skills so that when they do leave home to pursue their careers, they are able to make own meals. It’s never too late to get kids into the kitchen to improve their cooking skills, become more confident, and to experiment and have fun with ingredients.

What will children learn through cooking? There are many BENEFITS!

Cooking is FUN! And culinary camps provide an ideal space for children to create fond memories of cooking new dishes with their friends. They can enjoy all the new tastes and smells from different cuisines and cultures.
Teamwork: Working with others is an important experience for all children. They get to work together and share in the enjoyment of their delicious creations.
Organization: Students learn that a well-organized kitchen will create a more efficient environment for prep, cooking, and cleaning.
Efficiency: Children will receive instruction on the best way to get things done, and that means prioritizing to be more efficient.
Reading and Comprehension: When working through recipes, kids are reading and understanding step-by-step directions and learning new cooking terminology.
Math Skills: They experience the practical application of their math skills, like fractions, counting and measuring out ingredients, multiplication and division.
Sanitation and Cleanliness: Kids learn how to safely clean their food and the work area. Make sure that ingredients are prepared thoroughly before eating.
Fine motor skills: Children can improve eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills when using cooking utensils while mixing ingredients, chopping, kneading dough or piping icing onto a cake.
Stress release / creative outlet: Cooking is therapeutic because it encourages creativity. It helps kids focus their attention on cooking, creativity and enjoying the smell of foods and seasonings.
Learn about sustainability and where foods come from: Cooking classes teach children about seasonality and buying local foods and how we can be more sustainable in the home. Children learn where foods come from and how they are grown.
Science: Children get hands-on experience with real life science. Chemical reactions take place when baking and cooking and the campers will love to learn about that!

Summer cooking camps are an excellent opportunity for children to get exposure to different foods and cooking methods from experienced instructors. The hands-on lessons at a cooking camp allow children to build their confidence, develop life-long culinary skills and lay the foundation for healthy eating. It is definitely a fun and educational camp option to explore with your kids this summer!

About Chef Shai Mandel: Inspired by her passion for food and education, chef and teacher Shai Mandel founded Rooks to Cooks with the goal of teaching kids cooking, life skills, and important lessons they can use both in and out of the kitchen. Chef Mandel's student-centered workshops emphasize empowerment, healthy eating, and fun. Rooks to Cooks Summer Cooking Day Camps are conveniently located in 12 locations in Toronto and the GTA. There are 10 sessions to choose from, for kids ages 4 and up. Rooks to Cooks is your child's Recipe for Success! Find out more at

1. SOURCE: CMAJ Open, news release, March 3, 2014
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