Thursday, August 9, 2012

Joni and Friends Cooking Club

Sorry friends for my super long absence! To say life is crazy right now is an understatement: we moved at the end of July, followed by celebrating our 1 year anniversary, applying/interviewing for jobs, 10 straight days of camp/work and now we're gearing up for my husband's graduation this coming Friday. Needless to say I'm really hoping life settles down soon! While I have a moment to breath, I want to share with you my experience volunteering at camp last week!

Every year I attend a camp called Joni and Friends (JAF) Family Retreats in a sleepy little mountain town called Canadensis in the Poconos. JAF is a super special opportunity for individuals with or affected by disabilities to get away, do things they normally cannot do, find rest, relaxation and fellowship with Christians and other individuals affected by disabilities. As a short term missionary (STM), one can contribute to the camp through a variety of roles, and this year I had the awesome opportunity of leading a cooking club for the campers!

The promo collage I made
To be clear, this 45 minute class did not really involve cooking. It was more of a "let's make fun things with food" type class. It was my responsibility to come up with ideas for activities, buy the foods, set up and execute the club for 3 days at camp. This year's theme at camp was construction, or "We are His Workmanship," based on Ephesians 2:10, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in."

The first day I based the activities on the sub-theme of God's creation. We made vegetable skeletons, fruit paradise scenes and lady bug crackers. While there were examples to model their creations after, some campers took each of the activities in their own direction. The lady bug crackers turned into an olive eating challenge (apparently no one had a taste for olives, who knew?!)

Day 2 was simply construction themed with each camper building a log cabin out of pretzel sticks, marshmallow fluff or hummus, graham crackers and random other food decorations. I would have loved to use peanut butter but we avoided it for allergen reasons. Note: if you do this at home, make sure you buy the long pretzel sticks!

Day 3 was a conglomerate of random activities with the main one being veggie vehicles. I am really impressed with what the campers came up with! Better yet, I was really impressed with how many campers were EATING from the fruits and vegetables as they were working. After they were done making their vehicles, they made paint brushes by dipping rice crispy treats into melted chocolate of different colors.

I'm super happy with how cooking club went. This is definitely a new experience for me and it was somewhat difficult to plan how much food to buy for each activity. It was also difficult to plan a variety of healthy vs. sweet activities. I knew the campers would be looking to eat some dessert like items (rice crispy treats, brownies, etc) but as an RD, it was important to me that the club included mostly healthy activities that encouraged them to try some new foods. I think I succeeded, and this club ended up being the most popular of all at camp! In the end we had between 10-18 campers each day.

While cooking club took up my mornings and evenings, my other job for the week was to serve the ladies (and some men) of the camp through manicures:

A random job for me to do but I loved it and so did others!

Last but not least, I leave you with our fun family photo, taken after the camp talent show:

L to R: My father/mother-in-law, me, Jordan, sister/brother-in-law, after the camp talent show.

To Joni and Friends: thanks for another amazing week!

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