From adventure sports safety to appropriate supervision, there are so many elements to running a safe, successful camp experience. Yet it's important not to overlook the routine, day-to-day services that are part and parcel of keeping camp running smoothly.
Food service management is one of those crucial elements. Not only is it important to ensure safe, professional operations in the kitchen, but providing campers, counselors and staff with nutritious, enjoyable meals can go a long way to combatting home sickness and keeping everyone happy.
Here are just some of the things to keep in mind:
Hiring practices: Everyone from cooks to dishwashers working in the kitchen should be trained in the basics of food hygiene and safety. ServSafe®, offered by the National Restaurant Association, offers a variety of certification and training programs. Because kitchen staff will be onsite and have access to children, it is important to also undertake all hiring best practices, including criminal background checks as with any other staff.
Maintain order: From color-coded chopping boards and knives to maintaining safe, proper food rotation and labeling, appropriate refrigeration temperatures, best practice food safety precautions ensure an ordered, safe environment for preparing meals. The ACA also has some helpful tips on how maintain best practices.
Think healthy: While cooking fresh, nutritious food can cost more, it is an important part of looking after campers and keeping them healthy while they are in our care. A focus on fresh, healthy food can also be a great differentiator in terms of marketing your camp.
Remember allergies: Allergies are a serious concern for any camp. Besides the obligatory allergy forms, it's important to make sure that kitchen staff are aware of potential allergens and how to avoid cross contamination, and that all staff and counselors know what to do in the event of an allergic reaction. Because nut allergies are so common, and so potentially life threatening, many camps are choosing to go nut free as a precaution.
Restrict access: Even the best run kitchen is a dangerous place to be if you are not properly trained. From sharp objects to hot liquids, the risks are numerous. That's why we recommend that only kitchen staff be allowed in the kitchen. If you are running cooking classes for campers, consider doing the prep work in the kitchen and then bringing ingredients to a public space—or work with donors to fund a dedicated educational kitchen space.