Growing Camp Korey – Culinary garden program grows with a little help from Starlight and Niagara Cares

here’s almost nothing more fulfilling than working in a garden: hands in the dirt, sun on your shoulders, eating what you’ve harvested.

Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

Camp Korey is a year-round specialty camp that provides kids with serious and life-altering illnesses a unique opportunity to enjoy games, crafts and outdoor adventures. When kids aren’t horseback riding or climbing on the universally-accessible high ropes course, the garden and culinary program helps kids experience a different side of nature. The 5-acre certified organic garden is cared for by campers, volunteers and interns.

Eighty percent of what’s grown in the garden is used in the camp’s kitchen and prepared by an executive chef. For the campers, they see first-hand what farm-to-table really means.

Camp Korey has seen an increase in kids being more adventurous toward trying new foods. Signs are displayed during meal times letting campers know what they’re eating from the garden each day. This way, kids are more inclined to try those purple carrots or beets on their plates.

The garden culinary program is growing this year thanks to Starlight and our corporate partner Niagara Cares, the charitable arm of Niagara Bottling. Niagara Cares gave a $100,000 grant for the expansion and enhancement of the garden program. The grant will support the camp in its goal of increasing camper capacity over the next several years, and includes funding for the full-time culinary gardener, interns, a new 30-passenger bus and a larger more cohesive outdoor harvest station.

“Our organic garden is a high priority and integral part of the Camp Korey experience, for the campers, volunteers and others,” says Gary Pollock, Camp Korey Executive Director. “We are so very grateful to Niagara and Starlight for their extraordinary generosity and commitment to Camp Korey and our amazing garden.”

Camp Korey is also going through a major transition as they recently purchased a beautiful new property in Mt. Vernon. By the end of September 2016, the camp will move the Carnation Farm location in Washington’s Snoqualmie Valley to the 200-acre property in Mt. Vernon.

The move will allow for Camp Korey to host more campers with a greater diversity of medical challenges. The best part is, the outdoor harvest station is 100 percent mobile.

The entire garden is currently under portable tents, with a transportable washing area, and the entire harvest station is on wheels. When it’s time to garden in Mt. Vernon, it’s going to be a simple task to disassemble and reassemble at the new location.

Benefit of Gardening

Teaching a child about gardening has many educational and developmental benefits. It teaches kids about responsibility and nutrition. It holds them accountable for a living thing and teaches them what eating healthy means for their future wellness.

The herb garden also doubles as a camper sensory tour where they rub the leaves between their fingers and release the aromas of thyme and sage.

The best part of Camp Korey is that all the camp experiences – Summer Camp, Family Weekend Camp and their community-based outreach program Camp to You – are free to children and their families.

This fits right into Starlight’s mission to improve the quality of life for children with serous or life-altering medical conditions. We know a trip to camp for these kids boost self-confidence, helps them take risks and lets kids discover their strengths.

We applaud Camp Korey for the work they do and thank our corporate partner, Niagara, for helping the camp expand and serve more children and families in the years to come.

If you would like to help brighten the lives of seriously ill children, you can donate today. Your gift combined with the gift of others helps turn pain, fear and stress into laughter, fun and joy – because a sick kid is still a kid at heart.

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Tara Millspaugh

Digital Media Manager

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