5 Packin’ Snacks for Summer Camps

In addition to sports camps, many kids will pack up and go to church camp, music camp or camps featuring other hobbies this summer, maybe even starting this week! Even though your child is not exercising all day long, they still need adequate nutrition to fuel their busy bodies throughout the fun-filled day. Nutrition provides energy, but also helps keeps blood sugar stable, which strengthens mental acuity or your child’s ability to pay attention. Thus, packing healthy snacks for them to take to camp is essential for their success on all levels.

The challenge with many summer camps is they don’t have a refrigerator to hold every single kid’s snack and though your child’s lunch box might have an ice pack, it can still get warm putting foods like dairy, meat and egg-based items at risk for food borne illness. Packing your children snacks that can stay at room temperature safely while also providing quality carbohydrate and protein is where you win.  Even though you might have to pack some foods that come in a package, there are lots of quality items you can stuff in their snack bag. Here are 5 nutrient-choices that are packed with nutrition:

  1. Peanut butter and banana sandwich: Peanut butter (ow whatever nut or seed butter) provides protein and healthy fat while a banana provides carbohydrate and lots of vitamins and minerals. Pairing these two on whole wheat/oat bread are a winner for a balances blood sugar.  You can also switch the bread to a bagel or bagel thin, wrap it up in a whole tortilla or stuff it in a whole grain pita.
  2. Fruit and jerky: Pick a fruit (banana, baggie of grapes, sliced apples, dried fruit chips, etc.) for your child’s carbohydrate part of their snack and pair that with a beef, turkey or even venison jerky to pump up the protein. The combination of carbohydrates and protein helps keep their blood sugar and energy balanced.
  3. Nutty sauce: Fill a snack baggie with your child’s favorite nut mixture and pair that with a no-sugar added apple sauce. There are brands of apple sauce that are strictly pureed apples with cinnamon or another spice. This is a whole food choice that packs your child’s snack with vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  4. Homemade trail mix: Research shows that kids that help prepare their food are more likely to eat it. There are many store-bought trail mixes available, but allowing your kids to make their own can be a fun treat. Try to include the following in your child’s homemade trail mix:
    • Whole Grain: Pretzels, Chex cereal, Cheerios, whole grain goldfish, pita chips, granola or for crunch plus fiber.
    • Fruit: Sliced Medjool dates, dried apples or tropical fruit, banana or apple chips, raisins and craisins are all great choices.
    • Protein and healthy fat: Peanuts, almonds, honey roasted nuts, mixed nuts, cashews, soy nuts, dry roasted edamame soybeans are all great ways to help their trail mix seem satisfying.
    • Sweet treat: Every trail mix needs a sweet sprinkle to help kids feel like it is a fun snack. Don’t be afraid to let your child sprinkle in M&M’s, dark chocolate or white chocolate chips, chocolate/yogurt covered raisins or nuts, peanut butter chips, or coconut. All can fit into a healthy snack for kids.
  5. Homemade protein bites and bars: Homemade energy bites are great camps snacks! The best part? You can mix-n-match ingredients to change things up each week! Here’s an energy bite recipe guide:
    • Start with a half-cup of nut butter
    • Stir in on-fourth cup honey or maple syrup or use pureed Medjool dates as the “glue” to hold it all together
    • Stir in one-fourth cup of protein powder, collagen powder or dried milk powder
    • Add fiber with one cup of oats
    • Stir in your favorite add-ins:
      • Dried fruit
      • Chopped nuts and seeds
      • Coconut (unsweetened)
      • Chocolate chips, mini M&M’s, yogurt-covered raisins or nuts, etc.
    • Roll into 20 balls and refrigerate to set! You can also double or triple the recipe and freeze for next week!