My daughter plays hard at day camp and spends long hours in the heat. She comes home filthy and exhausted. She was also coming home absolutely starving until I figured out what to pack in her lunchbox to keep her fueled all day. The standard lunch I’d been sending to school just wasn’t cutting it for camp.
Here are some suggestions for items to pack in your campers lunchbox to keep them satisfied all day.
Two sandwiches – One just wasn’t enough! She’s having light bologna with mustard and 2% American cheese this week. Last week, it was ham, cucumber, avocado and carrots rolled up in a tortilla.
A breakfast bar or muffin – My daughter is usually too sleepy or rushed to sit down for breakfast in the morning. Throwing something she can easily munch on once she gets to camp has worked out well. It’s also a good mid-morning snack on days that she does eat breakfast at home. I have a big batch of homemade carrot/zucchini muffins in the freezer and either toss one of those or an oats and fiber bar in her lunchbox.
Protein rich snacks – Peanut butter on whole grain crackers, slices of lunch meat, turkey jerky and pistachios are commonly found in my daughter’s lunchbox. Yogurt, hardboiled eggs and string cheese are also good options.
Fresh veggies – My daughter is so hungry at camp that she’ll even eat whatever vegetables I throw in there! I have given her celery, baby carrots, bell pepper slices and grape tomatoes. The baggie almost always comes home empty!
Frozen grapes – They help keep the lunch cool and are defrosted when it’s time to eat. I throw in other fresh fruit as well.
A treat or money for the concession stand – Sometimes I’ll give her a brownie or small bag of chips. Other days, I toss in a dollar and let her choose something from the concession stand. She’s active and burning off the calories, so I don’t worry about her enjoying a treat.
Extra ice packs – Most camps don’t have refrigerators available and the lunches are sometimes outside for a long time before it is time to eat. No one wants to eat a warm lunch in the heat of summer. Invest in a good quality insulated lunchbox and ice packs.
Sunscreen – Putting it in the lunchbox helps remind kids to reapply it. It also keeps it cool, which feels refreshing on hot, sweaty skin.
Love notes or mementos from home – My daughter loves camp, but she misses home more than she does during a school day. Little notes or trinkets help her get through the day without too much homesickness.
A refillable water bottle and flavor packets – Fill the bottle with ice and water. Throw in some single serving pack drink mixes (lemonade, fruit punch, etc.) This will encourage your child to stay hydrated throughout the day.
Playing outside in the hot sun all day takes a lot of energy. Most children need more food and hydration than normal. Pack plenty of healthy snacks and drinks, in addition to lunch, to keep them going strong.