My happy camper at Mizzou swim camp.
Do you wonder what food to pack for your child when they go off to camp? Sending snacks for a week long camp can be tough, especially if they won't have access to a refrigerator. If the food at camp is really bad, snacks can help your child make it through the week; therefore, the healthier the snacks, the better off your child will be. For me, the problem is worse with my more rebellious son than with my more health conscious daughter.
If your child will actually eat them, bake some homemade muffins or make your own granola bars. That way you can control what goes into them and make them more nutritious. Nuts are another good option unless you are afraid that your child may be rooming with someone who is allergic to nuts. You can also make your own trail mix, there again controling exactly what goes into it. Try adding sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins or craisins, nuts, dried cherries, or soy nuts. A dusting of cinnamon will give it a taste twist plus add healthy antioxidants. A bag of apples is an easy snack but most any other fruit will bruise too easy or need refrigeration. Remember to wash the fruit before packing it as your kid won't take the time. Most kids like beef or turkey jerky but I don't buy large bags due to the salt content.
My son is attending band camp soon and has a small refrigerator that looks like a cooler. He uses it primarily for bottled water but I can send some cheese cubes as well. For drinks, I like to send water and G-2. If it is a sports camp and you know your child will be exercising strenuously in the heat, Gatorade may be better than G-2. As a compromise with my son, I will also send a bag of pretzels and a box of Goldfish.
Sharing snacks at camp is a great way to make new friends. Don't we all love to socialize over food? I am going to include our favorite granola bar recipe. My daughter found it in one of her swim magazines and it is packed with good nutrition and tastes like you are having dessert.
Oatmeal Energy Bars
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup non-fat milk powder
1/2 cup raisins or craisins
1/2 cup lightly salted roasted almonds
1 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
Line a 9x9 inch square metal baking pan with foil. Spray it with baking spray. Mix the oatmeal, flax seed, wheat germ, milk powder, dried fruit and nuts in a medium bowl. Set aside. Place the peanut butter, honey and molasses in a large saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly, melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour over the oat mixture and stir till well combined. Spread mixture in the prepared pan. Using a large piece of foil, press the mixture down firmly to compact it. Cool completely. Cut into 16 bars or squares. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap. Keeps several days in the refrigerator.
We have found this recipe does better by cutting back on honey to 1/2 cup. It is firmer and less sticky. Pick the right snacks, don't send a bunch of junk food and you will be guaranteed to have happy campers.