Summer Camp Food Service: The Overall Experience

When you think about Summer Camp Food Service as a parent vs a staff member vs a camper, the perception is not necessarily aligned. The food service and food being served should be something that is comforting and exciting for campers, parents, and staff alike.

How can you make everyone happy, is a common hurdle in the Summer Camp Food Service world. The answer is not that cut and dry.

Summer Camp Food Service

I will start with campers...

Since this is the easiest - the best way to keep campers happy with the food is to make sure that all the staples are being served. For example, the pizzas, the chicken fingers, the pasta, the grilled cheeses, the hamburgers and hot dogs, delicious desserts etc... Additionally, you should be sure to always have peanut butter (rather sun butter since the standard is moving towards all camps being nut free) and jelly available, hand fruit, and helpful kitchen staff that have no problem finding something for those campers that just won't eat anything. Also, a plentiful salad bar with many options allows for choices - healthy food choices at that! Campers may explore these options when in the camp setting that facilitates trying new things.

Camp staff is always difficult to keep happy during the season.

The reasons are valid - pizza, grilled cheese, chicken tenders EVERY WEEK. Can get mundane and repetitive, however, there are things that can be done to combat this. As mentioned above a salad bar full of choices may become the staffs go to choice when the camper favorites are being served. Try adding things like Grilled Chopped Chicken and a specialty salads to the salad bar such as Broccoli Cranberry Salad, Greek Salad, Couscous Feta Salad or a Quinoa Tabbouleh to spice things up and add new things every 2-3 days. Additionally, think about a night snack for staff a few times a week that is comforting - loaded nachos, cheese fries, specialty pizzas, fruit and cheese platters or make your own smoothie bars to name a few. This will help with morale and give the staff something to look forward to in terms of food that is just for them.

My experience with parents has been quite enjoyable.

I believe that if the Food Service Manager or FSD (whatever you call that person at your camp) is willing to connect and have open lines of communication directly with any concerned parents, it goes a long way. This allows them to surely have confidence in the food service operation and be comfortable with who is preparing the food and what their kids are eating. Of special importance are the campers that have special diets and the ability for the parents to be confident in both the camp and the kitchen to manage as well as fulfill their children's needs. A dedicated special diets chef goes a long way in creating a streamlined process to handle these campers efficiently and the ability to make sure that the options are plentiful - not just tofu ALL SUMMER LONG for example.

Summer Camp Food Service expectations are changing in front of our eyes, both from the camp's perspective as well as the parent's perspectives. Staying ahead of the curve allows camps to avoid the situation where they must "catch up to the times". I believe that the standard for the types of foods served at Camp will soon be directly tied to scratch cooking, healthier choices, and efficient kitchen management.


If you want to talk with us about your Food Service Operation, email us anytime at [email protected] and we will be glad to chat.


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