A PHILOSOPHY OF GREAT CAMP FOOD
At Ballibay we believe in real food. We cook as much as possible from scratch and source our ingredients from the wonderful farms and local companies that surround us in the bountiful Endless Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania. We also grow a meaningful portion of our produce from our own garden tended by campers and staff, on sun-drenched terraces right outside our dining hall. We know where the food we feed our campers and staff comes from, every step of the way.
We hire top chefs with excellent training and experience to provide a seasonal yet diverse and international menu. By cooking from scratch, our chefs can tailor the menu to fit your child’s dietary needs. We believe strongly that every camper should be able to participate fully in every meal every day, regardless of dietary restrictions or allergies. We therefore "deconstruct" our entrees and dishes - a tray of plain pasta with several sauces, including vegan and gluten free, various meats and sides. This allows campers to build their own entree and enjoy essentially the same meal, regardless of their dietary restrictions. We accommodate all types of food allergies and related restrictions. Please feel free to contact the office to discuss specific dietary or allergy issues with our chefs and medical staff.
Through the journey of growing food and cooking together, our staff and campers support their community and healthy relationships that last a lifetime.
"Your food program was a large part of why we went with Ballibay to begin with and Graham, who has always been a very picky eater, came back a much more adventurous one and is willing to eat almost anything now... I think it is a very important part of your camp."
Campers wishing to be involved in the food can sign up for the educational kitchen coop, where each activity period a small group of campers learns hands-on food preparation and participates in the creation of the camp's snacks and desserts. The entire camp then enjoys the fruits of their labor at snack and meal times.
Similar to the educational kitchen coop, campers may elect to help in the maintenance and harvesting of our camp garden. We grow everything from herbs to pumpkins, grapes to potatoes. Through this program campers gain an appreciation for where food comes from and how it makes it from the soil to their plate.
At least once per session the children from each cabin cook a dinner together at our outdoor campsite. Our food education staff person consults with the campers and counselors of each cabin on what foods to cook and the best techniques for a safe and delicious meal.
Our snack table is set up in the camp dining hall between meals, and is a great opportunity for campers to meet and talk with the camp chefs, and even volunteer in aspects of the camp's food preparation. Members of the camp community can do some informal food learning between meals as they talk with friends. There will often be simple jobs campers and staff can help with, such as making cookies or snapping beans. As local food maven Alice Waters notes, children try a more diverse range of foods when they are active in all stages of the cooking process. From volunteering in the garden, talking to our chefs and helping the preparation, our campers expand their palates and learn what it means to have a healthy diet.
BALLIBAY'S FOODSERVICE IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
We were thrilled to, in summer 2012, have a visit from Jan Hoffman of the New York Times. She featured us in an article on the changes taking place in camp food in the Times' Dining & Wine section. The complete article is available here: At Camp, It’s Not Grub, It’s Cuisine
EXECUTIVE CHEF MAIHAA KEELEY
Maihaa had her first clients at age 10 when she began cooking at home for her 3 younger brothers. Both Maihaa’s mother and grandmother used satisfying, nurturing food as a vehicle to express love. Maihaa has adopted their legacy and infuses her culinary discipline with a sincere, openhearted connection.
She trained at the School of Natural Cookery in Boulder, Colorado in 1994, and has worked as a chef for over 20 years. She is now a lead instructor with the School of Natural Cookery, and has trained many successful chefs, and contributed to the school’s curriculum, over the last decade.