Tips for surviving summer camps as a veg*n! - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-03-2006, 02:48 PM
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I've been away from home for various summer camps and retreats for many summers now. For being a vegetarian for nearly three years now, I know just how difficult it is, so I thought I'd make a thread so that we can all share tips on how to not starve during the duration of the camp, and other hardships of being away from our happy places where we feel most secure.



Beforehand:



Call the camp to see about food options, if it is not discussed in the literature you get sent after you register. All the camps I've gone to have a salad bar option at lunch and dinner, and breakfast usually has some sort of cereal or toast option besides just bacon and eggs.



Go shopping! Even as an omni, I brought food to camp. So, as a veg*n, it is essential that you have a meal substitute just in case dinner isn't what you expected.
Go for nutritious, delicious, and energy dense foods, especially if you're going to a camp that demands 110% of you. I like to bring along Clif bars, granola bars, trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, fruit leather, candy, bottled water, popcorn, and crackers so that I know I'll have something to eat.



It's not the healthiest thing in the world, but it's only for a week Even if they discourage bringing food, they may be more lenient because of your diet. Just give them a call and politely explain the situation and go from what they say. I've had no problems in the past.



I learned this at debate camp- pack everything in a little plastic tub with a lid. It makes everything much easier to carry around and contained in a small space.



During:



Find (or bring) a veg*n friend at camp. Two years ago (and the first time away from home for a week as a vegetarian) my roommate was. But because of me being incredibly nervous around people I don't know well, I didn't bother to interact with her, or even know she was a vegetarian until the last day. This way, you and a friend can figure out what's edible or not.

Some of the counselors may also be vegetarian. Even if they aren't, many are more than happy to do everything they can to help you find something edible.



Don't be afraid to ask questions. The food service may actually be able to tell you what is vegetarian or not, or be able to provide you with an alternative meal if they're really nice. I had PB&J a few times when the main entree was meat-based. They are usually very helpful at knowing what goes into the food.



Always, always, always eat at the salad bar if there is one. Even if it's iceberg lettuce, cabbage and carrots, it still provides some nutrition. It may be boring, but it's still food. If that's the only thing around for you, it's never that difficult to go back to your room and grab a granola bar and some trail mix.



After:



Call, or make a comment about the food on the questionaire that some places give on the last day. POLITELY tell them that you enjoyed the camp, but next year, it would be nice to see more veg*n options. Don't be preachy, just ask for more options. You'll catch more flies with sugar than vinegar, just remember that, being rude or militant (ie.. MEAT IS MURDER! MAKE ALL THE MEALS VEGAN BECAUSE YOU'RE KILLING COWS AND PIGS AND LIVING THINGS! or whatever.) just makes us all look crazy and will not likely make any real difference except making other vegetarians and vegans look like extremists.



If anyone has any other tips to add, feel free. These are just observations I've made through the years.





EDIT: And let's not somehow turn this into a huge argument. I don't know how one could, but with the teen forum, you never know. Play nice, kids.



Edit #2:
This has been restickied this year, so I've revised everything.

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#2 Old 07-03-2006, 03:18 PM
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I don't go to camp, but I'm sure this will be useful for lots of members
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#3 Old 07-03-2006, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
And let's not somehow turn this into a huge argument. I don't know how one could, but with the teen forum, you never know. Play nice, kids.



hahahaha yah, the teen forum has alot of angst these days doesnt it? im just thanking you, because that edit really made my day *salutes*



ok this actually applies to the thread, im also going to a summer camp and its on a college campus so most of our meals are gonna be cafeteria food (ACK!), as we all know, cafeteria food is rarely veg*n so im pretty much screwed. they do have a salad bar so im probably gonna eat salad the whole time, i have a feeling im gonna lose alot of weight...on the bright side, we can bring food tho, so im gonna stuff as much as i can into my suitcase. hmmm i dont know really what the whole point of this post was lol...oh well...



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#4 Old 07-04-2006, 05:07 PM
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The only non-private camp I ever went to would have been survivable as a vegetarian, but not vegan. Although it was only 5 days so I guess one could have lived off water.
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#5 Old 07-04-2006, 07:47 PM
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i wouldnt be able to do that, i always feel sick if i dont eat enough...
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#6 Old 07-05-2006, 03:02 AM
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Nice =D I go to camp a week every year, but this year me and my cousin didn't get places That would have been my first time as vegetarian. The camp I go to is a christian camp, but I'm not christian at all. My cousin is though
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#7 Old 07-05-2006, 11:18 AM
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yeah, i'm going to a christian camp in about a month...it was actually where i started my veg-track, so eating veg should be a snap...although i can't bring along food...strictly forbidden...although i am worried about breakfast...i've all but stopped eating straigh eggs...makes me sick to think about...and it's been ages since i had straight milk too...so i'm not sure what i'm gonna do...
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#8 Old 07-05-2006, 11:24 AM
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A non teen VBer PMed me with some more tips, so I'm going to post them because she can't. (note to said vber: if you want this removed, I can do so)



"be creative at meals. People would ask where I found the tasty veggie sandwiches, and were surprised that I made them myself from the camp's bread/rolls/bagels/tortillas and salad-bar ingredients (lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, onions, shredded carrots, dressing, etc, etc.) If you can find peanut butter, it's good for more than just sandwiches; dip fruit or raw veggies into it, or mix it into hot cooked pasta with some soy sauce, hot sauce if they have it, and vegetables, for peanut noodles. If the camp doesn't have plant-based milk, vegans can have their cereal over a bowl of applesauce or fresh fruit. Don't worry about whether your meal looks like everyone else's - it's perfectly fine to have lots of side dishes tossed with salsa and cheese from the salad bar, if that's what you want."

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#9 Old 07-06-2006, 08:43 PM
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katt- thanks those sound like good ideas...yummy too
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#10 Old 07-20-2006, 07:25 PM
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Thank you... although I wish I'd seen this before I left. I just got back from national girl guide camp...

We were told so many times "DON'T BRING FOOD! Don't worry about it! We can handle veggie, vegan, gluten free, sugar free, ANYTHING! NOBODY will leave the food line hungry!"

What a laugh. It was insane... nobody knew what was in ANYTHING... I'm only lacto-ovo and I had trouble.

The salads all came with anchovy containing caesar dressing. It took them three days to get soymilk. (they started with Lactose-free dairy milk.) They ran out of veggie food several times and actually told my vegetarian patrol guider, her veggie daugher, and my veggie friend, "Well, there's cheddar cheese and rice cakes!"

They broke into the food bank and took out the food that my guider had brought for donations. After checking the sites around us for allergies we dug into the minestrone soup, peanut butter, trail mix, organic nut bars, beans...

We were very happy after that. Every evening we had veggies who had heard about us showing up at our campsite with buns from supper to get into our peanut butter. Some mystery sweetheart brought us a bag of fruit (Plums, apricots, nectarines, bananas!) while we were at program. [All the fruit that we were given at meals was apples and oranges... the only veggies were iceburg lettuce, instant potatoes and carrots... ]

Of course, we kept all of our extra food in airtight containers to ward off the skunks and raccoons.

And every morning, even after eating the "Meals" provided and all of the extra food I still woke up very happy for breakfast... imagine if we hadn't had the extra!
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#11 Old 07-21-2006, 06:57 AM
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thanks for starting this thread. i went to camp for 3 weeks this summer and though i wasn't starved, i was ready to pig out when i got home. unfortunately i'm pretty shy so i have a tendency to say as little as possible about my vegetarianism so that i don't sound like i'm complaining or anything. a lot of the times it was salad and dessert for supper and believe me, i am NOT a salad person. i'm totally bringing my own food stock when i go back next year.
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#12 Old 08-08-2006, 05:01 PM
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I brought SOO much food with me to camp, and i even got to make my own food. It was pretty sweet.
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#13 Old 08-08-2006, 05:17 PM
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Share your camp address with some understanding friends. Get them to send you care packages with lots of food. It's fun to get mail but it's even better to get packages.



My tip: If they have individual serving size boxes of cereal at breakfast try and take a few with you. Cereal is a great snack and might save you later in the day when there is nothing veg*n.
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#14 Old 08-10-2006, 12:11 PM
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Okay, I want to fight about... haha, just jokin'. How was debate camp? I love debate!!!



Okay, to I worked as a camp cook this past summer, and really, for kids with specific eating neads, just feel out the part of the application where is asks if you have food allergies. In that section is when you can tell them that you don't eat certain foods, note that it's not an allergy, but still something that needs to be honored, and that you would be more then happy to eat anything that they make that dosn't contain those foods.



The camp must honor your wishes, and they must feed you. It's that easy!



But if you want to be certain that you are eating vegan, then you can bring a stash of veggie burgers and ask them to heat them up seperatly from the meat.



You could also call ahead of time and ask for a menu of the food being served, and find good substitutes (like packing your lunch!) and bring 'em to camp. Even an overnight one-- they can store them in the frige or freezer and heat them up for you!
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#15 Old 08-10-2006, 05:22 PM
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The camp must honor your wishes, and they must feed you. It's that easy!

No, they can't force meat/eggs/cheese down your throat. But they CAN feed you nothing but iceburg lettuce or white rice.

The thing was catered. Badly. They clearly went for the cheapest option. My patrol guider asked one of the Food Service Workers, "But where's the PROTEIN in this?" and he said, "You don't eat meat... you don't get protein."
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#16 Old 08-11-2006, 02:52 PM
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Okay, I want to fight about... haha, just jokin'. How was debate camp? I love debate!!!



Debate camp was f*ckin crazy. I got locked out of my dorm room once, hid some trees in an elevator, and just filled the week with childish pranks. Oh, and we debated and researched every day, too.



But anyway, I just came back from a weekend at another camp like setting. This time, I had my crazy vegan friend along (really, this guy is awesomely cool, he's a school resource officer and serves on many of the boards and committes I do.) We both had lots of trouble with the food service (no fresh fruit, only iceberg lettuce for a "salad bar") so we didn't eat very much. He used orange juice on cereal, and we both had brought along clif bars and things like that for the days when all I could eat was a cheese and pickle sandwich, and he a pickle sandwich. Oh so delicious. Except not.
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#17 Old 08-11-2006, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by *Cringe* View Post

No, they can't force meat/eggs/cheese down your throat. But they CAN feed you nothing but iceburg lettuce or white rice.

The thing was catered. Badly. They clearly went for the cheapest option. My patrol guider asked one of the Food Service Workers, "But where's the PROTEIN in this?" and he said, "You don't eat meat... you don't get protein."





That should go straight to the stupid things omni's say thread. and then someone should have him.
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#18 Old 08-11-2006, 11:28 PM
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That should go straight to the stupid things omni's say thread. and then someone should have him.



The week was FILLED with stupid omnivore comments. I asked for a vegetarian boxed lunch to take on my outtrip.

Food Server to Food Service Workers: "Hey! Is this a vegetarian sandwich?"

Food Service Worker: "No! That's a turkey sandwich! (To me) Why don't you want to eat Turkey? Turkey is GOOD for you!"

Me: Right.



I ended up with a jam sandwich on white bread. No PB because of allergies, of course.



And Katt, I am super jealous that you got to go to debate camp! I wanted to go... but I refused to go without my partner, and it was the same time as her swimming provvies... so maybe next year.
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#19 Old 08-27-2006, 05:48 AM
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i went to a camp once (Before going vegetarian) and the people who said they were vegetarians on their forms got chicken, and ended up eating nothing. Luckly it was only a 1 nighter. can you believe that?! How inconsiderate.
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#20 Old 08-30-2006, 02:38 PM
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^^^ that sucks.
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#21 Old 08-31-2006, 10:37 AM
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^^^ Agreed. Bleh. Chicken is not a vegetable. You'd think there'd have been something non-meat containing in the kitchen... even if it were to steam up a mess of carrots and broccoli and add minute rice. Not exactly the best meal in the world, but better than chicken (that is to say, nothing).



On a much happier note, I just got back from an entirely different summer camp. Food was AWESOME. Veggie dish (stuffed tomatoes... chickpea casserole... etc etc etc) at every meal, along with soy and rice milk, fresh veggie sticks, cooked veggies, and salad. I had to ask (I actually had a friend ask for me before I could ) whether or not the caesar was anchovy-containing. It was, but they apologized and at every meal after that had a seperate bowl of greens with various dressings on the side to choose from. My one rather silly complaint is that everything contained a LOT of dairy, which I am trying to cut back on (and have been quite successful with). However I'm sure if I had written "vegan" (if I were to be vegan, I mean- I wouldn't lie) or "reduced dairy" on the forms, they would have accomedated me. We had a councellor with dairy and wheat allergies and she always got fed, right down to her own muffins at mug up.
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#22 Old 06-19-2007, 02:16 PM
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wow! I have gone to alot of church camps in the past 3 years id say about 9! Everytime, I either made sure I helped out in the kitchen, ( was able to eat alot of the veggies before they were made into something meat, meat lasagna, I even ate pasta, (before it was in the lasagna with ranch, LOVE IT!!! ) This was the kindof camp where the people staying there had to cook/bring/buy their own food, like the church did, but in 3rd grade and 6th we stayed at a camp where the food was supplied and wow! there was nothing veggie, I did the cereal thing, brining like 3 boxes to the cabin and eating them at like every meal! lol! But they would make me Pb&j and when ever they had anything veget'n. Id eat alot of it, like when they had brocolli (yea with middle schoolers they expected it to be eaten lol) I had alot of it! I usually find a way to eat veg. at a camp! You really have to just experiment! I tried a ketchup and mustard sandwitch on white bread, while all there were was meat and condiments, seriously no, lettuce, tomatoe, nothing, anyways I can usually count on a ket. and mustard sandwich getting me by for a week lol!
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#23 Old 08-06-2007, 08:14 AM
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OK, last year I had to go to band camp for a week and a half and I made sure that I pre-planned my meals and brought them all with me.
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#24 Old 08-26-2007, 03:14 AM
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yes i went on "survival camp" to norway for 12 days last month, and i often didn't have dinner, although the guides knew i was vegetarian. now i'm vegan so i don't know about next year..
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#25 Old 08-26-2007, 03:19 AM
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yay, you were in Norway? Do you know what city? I live in Norway
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#26 Old 08-26-2007, 03:30 AM
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yay, you were in Norway? Do you know what city? I live in Norway



uhm we drove a whole part of the south of norway, the first city was called Kragerö or something!



and another name i remember is the kjegarbölten walk in the mountains

it's beautiful there
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#27 Old 08-26-2007, 05:47 AM
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Aah. I live in the western part of Norway, Bergen.
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#28 Old 08-26-2007, 06:30 AM
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i've heard of the name Bergen but i don't know anything more about it
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#29 Old 08-26-2007, 10:01 PM
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I was at xc camp a few weeks ago and we called ahead, and they said they had vegetarian and vegan options, but I brought some luna bars and rice milk justin case..good thing, because they barely had vegetarian options, and only uncrustables (blehk) as vegan options. >
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#30 Old 09-03-2007, 04:57 PM
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I am a vegetarian cook at a summer camp for girls. That's right, my job is to cook for the 15-20 vegetarians at camp. When I first started working at this Vermont camp there were not many vegetarians. Over the last few years the number has increased due to the high quality of detail that goes into the vegetarian menu (I love to please my vegetarian compatriots). Because of my efforts a lot of campers and staff use their time at camp to play with the concept of vegetarianism. I am only happy to oblige.

Look for a camp that prides itself on a vegetarian option. Communicate with the director and the kitchen staff about dishes you think would match or go well with the standard meals being served.

I have more thoughts on this issue and I'll be sure to share them in the future.
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