You may be in back-to-school mode, but if you were unhappy with the snacks or meals your child received at summer camp this year, now is the time to speak up. Why now? Because camps are sending out end-of-summer evaluations and surveys–and there’s plenty of time to look at parent feedback and make improvements for next summer.
This summer, I posted a sample email you could cut, paste, customize, and send to camp directors about junk food snacks (access it here). Turns out, Melanie of Cultivate Wellness found my post while searching for a way to express her displeasure about the food her daughter was getting at camp. She used it as a template to send a letter to the camp director. When she told me, I asked if I could post it here as another great resource for you:
Dear [Camp Director],
My daughter is really enjoying her fifth year at [name of camp]. The smiles and stories she has every day when she comes home are priceless! Thank you for making it such a success!!!
She has filled me in on the food items provided at the overnight as well as the picnic lunch from last week. From what I understand it was Doritos with cheese and meat and “camp cones” (marshmallows, ice cream cones and chocolate) for the lunch, and when I picked her up from the overnight for a sporting event, she was eating Pop-Tarts, Froot Loops and chocolate chip pancakes. With the childhood diabetes and obesity rates rising higher and higher, I am wondering if you would be willing to consider some different items in the future. In fact, on the welcome flyer sent home with my daughter, one of your areas of focus is Healthy Living: Improving the nation’s health and well-being.
I am not opposed to treats, in fact, we incorporate treats into our lives at home in moderation. However, the overwhelming amount of sugar and trans-fats and processed food provided at the camp meals is concerning to me (and probably many other parents as well).
Bananas, air popped popcorn and clementines are perfect examples of inexpensive foods that would help satisfy kids’ hunger, fuel them for camp, and benefit their bodies. For breakfast, might I suggest limiting it to just one of the sugary items and supplementing with scrambled eggs to provide some healthy protein. For the cookout, even grass fed local hot dogs with whole wheat buns, or even the Walking Tacos made with plain tortilla chips would be a better choice.
Perhaps I’m the only mom to have spoken up, but I am quite sure that with the health crisis our country is experiencing (where this generation of children is the first in centuries to be expected not to live longer than their parents did) that there are many other parents who are equally as concerned about junk food in their kids’ diets–and would be happy to know that the [name of camp] is helping by providing healthy snacks. And even if the parents aren’t clued in to the dangers of eating excessive amounts of sugar, trans fats and processed foods, I think you could do a real service in helping kids and families learn about healthy eating.
I know that the you care about our kids and want the best for them. Returning campers might miss all the processed food at first, but I think they would forget about them quickly and grow to love and appreciate the healthy offerings just as much. My daughter mentioned that she was trying to figure out what was the healthier option at breakfast — the Froot Loops or the Frosted Flakes. It would be great for kids to go to camp knowing they don’t even have to think about that kind of thing.
Please consider this in the long run. I would be happy to work with you on choosing items that work for your budget and storage needs. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I really do appreciate all your hard work.
Though she hasn’t heard back from the camp yet, Melanie sent a similar one to another camp director and got this response.
I’m glad to hear you daughter enjoyed camp! We like to see campers having fun and learning new things.
I appreciate your feedback on snacks. It’s something we’ve long struggled with because of our budget constraints and sheer volume of campers we host. We’re currently working towards offering more healthy options in upcoming camps. Thanks again for your feedback!
Bottom line: Camp food doesn’t have to be all junk. Camp directors need to hear from parents. Parents CAN make a difference.