There’s a summer camp for everything, from spy camp to zombie camp, so why not a culinary camp for kids? There are so many available for all ages, and we love the idea, so we’ve put together this list of some of the very best culinary camps for kids, all around the country.
Those of us with kids who love to cook see them as a brilliant way to expand their knowledge and explore a passion even further. As for those of us with picky eaters — well, provided they’re open to the idea at all, they just may be more willing to succumb to the (positive) peer pressure and expand their repertoires.
From knife wielding and food safety lessons, to pastry making and mise en place, cooking skills are life skills, and with any luck, culinary camps for kids may even have your children coming home to teach you a few things.
Top image: Kids Table, Chicago
New York City Area Culinary Camps for Kids
Butter Beans, New York
The Dynamite Shop Pop-Up Restaurant Camps, Park Slope, Brooklyn. This is more than just a cooking camp, it’s a social club for teens and tweens offering six weeks of summer camp culinary programs for kids ages 8 and up to provide a “deep dive into kitchen life.” A café is coming soon too, which could be the perfect spot to hang with other parents and brag about who’s got the best knife skills. (No, don’t do that.)
Butterbeans Food & Garden Summer Camp, Manhattan and Brooklyn. Butterbeans was started by moms who were committed to getting more natural foods into schools, and communities, so no surprise that they’re bringing their farm-to-table mentality to kids through their culinary camp. Three two-week sessions have kids 6-10 doing everything from catching fish in Central Park, to planting and gardenting, to…beekeeping on rooftops. Wow.
The Stone Barns Center Summer Institute, Pocantico Hills. A select group of high school students at Westchester’s spectacular Stone Barns Institute will learn to cook fresh produce and also explore sustainable farming practices like beekeeping, mushroom inoculation, seed saving, and food waste management over the course of one of two two-week sessions. That should look nice on a college application.
Culinary Institute of America Journey for Juniors, Hyde Park, NY. Just north of NYC, the CIA’s “Journey for Juniors” is a two-day session for high school juniors serious about the professional culinary arts to learn more about their passion on the campus of this esteemed culinary school. Just know this is more of a pre-college visit kind of an experience, and a parent or guardian is required to join. In other words, OMG, Y’ALL! I have a high school junior who has expressed an interest in culinary school so I might actually do this. Hooray!
Midwest Culinary Camps for Kids
The Kids Table
Foodie Kids Summer Camp, Lincoln, Nebraska. Foodie Kids’ summer day camps offer specific areas of learning, ranging from foodie science to all-American desserts. Four- and five-day camps are available for kids from 4.5 years old through teens — who I imagine would love their TV Style Cooking and Baking Competition Camp. Fun!
The Kids Table Summer Camp, Chicago. Their weeklong camps for kids 7-14 focus on teaching hands-on cooking so they can enjoy making healthy choices. (There are also classes for kids as young as 18 months.) Campers get to enjoy field trips to farms, markets and restaurants, and create a 3-course meal each day around themes like diners, pastries, and a culinary tour around Chicago.They also added a full-day Foodie Adventure Camp this year, just for older tweens and teens.
East Coast Culinary Camps for Kids
Vermont Culinary Summer Academy at Green Mountain College, Vermont. These camps are serious overnight programs for campers in grades 8 to 12 who are considering a culinary career. Each day meals are made around a specific theme like pizza or vegan cooking, while kids get access to both the same commercial kitchen that their college students use, as well as a small-scale animal and vegetable farm with a historic barn. Take a look at their sample menu from last year and get their mouths watering.
Culinary Underground Summer Vacation Cooking Camps, Southborough, MA. This camp offer week-long half-day programs for kids over 7, with a focus on home cooking and practical techniques. Sounds like a great spot for a kid who’s ready to take over some of the cooking at home — especially with weekly themes like The French Baker, and International Food Truck. Bring on the tacos!
Culinary Arts Summer Camp from The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, Philadelphia. The respected Philly cooking school offers a two-day hospitality program for high school freshmen and sophomores who are serious about exploring cooking for a living, complete with gastronomic “stop” in New Orleans, Chicago, Georgia, the Florida Keys, and more. There’s also a three-day Summer Institute for high school juniors who want a taste of what it’s like to attend the school.
Southeast Culinary Camps for Kids
SoFab Culinary Camp
Cookology Summer Camps, Sterling, Virginia. Located in Loudon County, Cookology is a recreational cooking school that also offers a summer program. They have a variety of culinary camps for kids all taught by pro chefs, ranging from a three-day baking boot camp for kids 5-7, to a week-long culinary boot camp for more advanced hands-on cooking and skills for older kids.
National Food & Beverage Foundation’s SoFAB’s Summer Kids Culinary Camp, New Orleans. There are five half-day, week-long sessions for 7 to 11 year olds and one just for middle schoolers, all dedicated to teaching nutritional literacy at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum. We’re talking hands-on cooking, games, food history, and of course, eating. We actually visited the museum on a family trip after our youngest son learned about it online and it’s really cool. Tip: A membership to the NFBF gets you a discount.
West Coast Culinary Camps for Kids
Blue Ribbon Cooking Kids Summer Camps, Seattle. Whether your child is at the “Mom and Me” level or a teenager ready for for Advanced French Culinary Camp, Blue Ribbon Cooking has something to offer, with culinary camp lessons all taught by professional chefs. Sign my kids up! Then….send them home to cook for me.
Y.U.M. Chefs Summer Camp, San Francisco. Y.U.M. (Young Urban Modern) offers camps that focus on regional United States cuisines, with one day of each five-day session devoted to the northeast, southeast, northwest, southwest, and central states. Each week, different cities are included, so a kid who attends for multiple weeks won’t get bored. Their aim is to “empower children in the Bay Area as they build positive, meaningful relationships with food and food culture through hands-on, from scratch cooking experiences.” I support that!
Raddish Kids Kitchen Kid Cooking Camp, Santa Monica and South Bay. Raddish is known for their kids cooking subscription service, which helps build kids’ cooking skills and confidence, and this is their tenth year of offering a summer culinary camp for kids in the LA area. Kids entering third through eighth grades will experience a full-day program taught by professionally trained chefs and classroom educators, and new this year: a Global Food Fest Summer Camp session which lets kids explore foods from Spain, China, Japan, Brazil and more.
National Culinary Camps for Kids
Sur la Table Summer Camp
Sur la Table Summer Series for Kids and Teens. The culinary store that’s really the only good reason to go to the mall (though we love their web shop too) offers a kids and teens culinary camp series in nearly 30 states across the country. Classes are hands-on and include baking, regional, and global cuisine, and the site has really detailed menus for each week’s program. (If you’re me, plan to spend a lot of time shopping while your kids are learning.)
Taste Buds Kitchen Summer Camps. Each Taste Bud Kitchen franchise locations from the east coast into the midwest offers different cooking and food related events and camps. Visit the location nearest you to find out what’s available for your kids, and more details about ages and programs.