BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - It's a different kind of summer camp in a different kind of classroom. Chef campers are learning kitchen basics instead of math or science.
The camp, which ended Friday, is hosted by Southern and LSU's agriculture centers.
"Some day in the future, these kids could be mini chefs," said guest lecturer, Peter Jones. "We teach them to take pride in building simple things, whether it's a healthy snack, food, baking. You want to take pride and you go all out with everything that you do."
The camp is part of a national effort to combat childhood obesity by teaching children the importance of healthy eating using the USDA's "MyPlate" system, similar to the food pyramid.
One camper, Kaleigh Beaulieu, said she is learning all about nutrition during the camp's classroom sessions. "I'm at a young age and I need to start eating healthier because when I'm older, it can be a lot harder to lose that weight," she said.
The kids begin each day with an exercise routine, then they listen to a brief lecture on nutrition. Finally, they use the kitchen to prepare simple, healthy recipes. They learn how to operate appliances, use safety precautions, follow recipes, and serve others. "You have to learn the basics before you go to anything else, so that's what we're here to teach them today, that you can build from that and go forward," Jones said.
Perhaps most importantly, they're going home with a bag full of utensils and tools they can use to cook for their families.
One instructor said children can influence adults to eat healthier, slowing the cycle of obesity, and the parents probably aren't turning down a little help in the kitchen, either.
"My parents said, 'Make sure you learn something every day so you can come cook it for us,'" Beaulieu said.