Top | Opinion

Real food at camp

(article, Hillary Carey)

[%pageBreakSettings nobreak=true]I’m passionate about gardening the way some people are passionate about cars or wine or antiques. I was hooked early; as a child in Vermont, I played in the garden next to my mother and helped her plant and then harvest vegetables that ended up on our dinner table.  

In 2005 I met a man named Tim Rose who was working to create a summer camp for children with serious illnesses, a camp inspired by the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps founded by actor, philanthropist, and “foodie” Paul Newman.  

Tim’s intention was to establish a camp to celebrate the life of his son Korey, who died at the age of 18 after battling bone cancer. Happily, Camp Korey, which opens this summer, will give children with serious illnesses all over the Pacific Northwest the chance to experience summer camp in a medically safe environment.

[%image hillary float=left width=200 caption="Hillary Carey"] Which brings me back to gardens. As it happens, I am also passionate about summer camp, and eventually I was appointed director of Camp Korey, where we are building one heck of a garden. 

Camp Korey sits on the site of historic Carnation Farm outside of Seattle, cradled by 818 acres of land rich in natural resources and agricultural history. The gardener in me could hardly wait to get her fingers in the dirt. 

But even better? Camp Korey’s kids are going to have the chance to get their fingers in the dirt, too.

For most of our campers, the garden will be a new frontier and fresh, organic food a new experience. Getting down into the dirt and being a part of how food grows can be empowering for any child. For our campers, all of whom struggle with serious illnesses, the opportunity to work in a garden can be a revelation of personal accomplishment.

The plan is that, depending on the time of year, Camp Korey kids may be planting seeds, picking ripe vegetables, or just digging in the dirt for worms, if that's what gets them excited. My only goal for gardening time (and for all our programs, for that matter) is that campers feel their independence and reach beyond their perceived limitations to try something new. 

[%image reference-image width=400 float=right caption="The garden at Camp Korey."] I hope camp becomes a place where children learn to think differently about food. Healthy eating for our campers can be a tricky thing. Most of them have considerable dietary restrictions and spend a fair amount of time in the hospital, where they have to eat — let’s face it — really awful food. 

So my impulse is that when they come to camp, they should have everything they want. Three ice-cream sandwiches and a hot dog for lunch? Sure!

Actually, no. Instead of indulging unhealthy cravings, I want Camp Korey to be a place where healthy choices taste good. I want to feel proud of the food that we’re providing.

The gardening process connects kids with a sense of self-worth and accomplishment, and I want to draw a straight line from that positive experience to showing campers that the food we grow tastes good.

[[block(sidebar).

h1. Camp Korey

The Washington Wines Festival’s 2008  Wine Weekend (July 11-12) will benefit Camp Korey and Hole in the Wall Camps. The weekend will feature musical entertainment, wine tastings, auctions, fine dining, and fun at the future site of Camp Korey at Carnation Farm; the goal is to raise funds to ensure children with serious illnesses have a place to play and “just be kids.” A limited number of tickets are available for this event; you can also enter to win tickets at the end of this op-ed.

]]

I can’t wait to introduce our campers to the Pizza Patch. An entire section of our garden is devoted to vegetables for pizza: basil, red peppers, tomatoes, and the like. Campers spend the morning in the garden, select the ingredients for their pizza, and then head to the kitchen for a hands-on cooking class. The kids will learn to make a homemade pizza using the vegetables they’ve just picked from the garden, and we’ll empower them to decide exactly what they want to cook. 

If a child wants to put a potato on his pizza, we’ll absolutely allow him to do that. In fact, we’ll encourage him!

Giving any campers the tools to make their own decisions, however small they may seem, can have a long-lasting, positive impact on their lives. In the case of Camp Korey’s kids, those skills will be crucial as they grow and continue to face the ongoing challenges of their health conditions. 

It’s one of the things that I love about camp: simple things like digging in the dirt, cooking, and eating often have the most to teach. On Taco Night, we’ll all be eating fresh vegetables, locally sourced lean meats, and homemade salsa, and, while they’re chowing down, our campers — who struggle with so many health issues in their lives — can also be thinking about where that food comes from, the good things that it can do for their bodies, and the camaraderie of a good meal.

Who knows? We may even ignite a passion for food.

p(bio). Hillary Carey is the director of Camp Korey, which will open its doors in July. Camp Korey is currently working to become a member of the Association of Hole in the Wall Camps, founded by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman.

p(green). The drawing has closed.  Congratulations to Kate L. of Portland, who won two tickets to Saturday's Camp Korey Benefit, and to Richard, Elizabeth, Eric & Diana who also won some CDs.  Thanks for all your great support!

[%contestSignup contest=campkorey prompt='Contest Closed — Win two tickets for the full Saturday event, or signed CDs from artists at the benefit.' submit='Enter the Contest ']

h6.\ Individual prizes include: one set of two tickets (valued at $1,000 per ticket) to the full Saturday event including the concert with Vince Gill/Amy Grant (no transport is included), and some signed CDs from Friday night's musical guest, Lisa Loeb (approximate value $20 per). All prizes are courtesy of Culinate, Camp Korey and the Hole in the Wall Camps, the musicians and artists, or Washington Wines Festival and its sponsors.
\ Entering signs you up for a trial subscription to Culinate's weekly e-newsletter.  You must confirm the newsletter subscription to have a valid entry in the contest drawing (a "reply-to" confirmation email will be sent to you automatically). Winners will be selected by random drawing on Wednesday, July 9, 2008, at noon PDT. Each winner will be notified by email.   The ticket winner must claim their tickets by noon on Thursday, July 10th, or the second name drawn will be given the tickets.  Prizes will be available either the day of the event at Will Call, or mailed directly to the winner, where appropriate. Please read our standard Contest Guidelines for any additional details that may apply.


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