Crowdsourcing Better Snacks at Scout Camp

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while now, you may remember that one of my side projects is helping improve the quality and nutrition at several popular Boy Scout Camps in Los Angeles.  (I had been previously only talking about one camp, Emerald Bay, but we’re expanding the conversation to include all three camps in the Council’s area! Hooray!)

Last week I had a meeting with Shawn, the Business Director. We discussed the various snacks and treats that we sell in the Trading Posts at the camps. This is where the Scouts go to buy snacks between meals, beverages, and various supplies and memorabilia.

The stores have always been stocked with typical junk food: Soda, candy, ice cream bars, Slush Puppies, nachos, and the like.

While we aren’t going to eliminate all of those (it’s still summer camp, after all!), we are going to start experimenting with offering and encouraging healthier options.  But it won’t work if the Scouts (and adult Scoutmasters!) don’t like them.

So here’s where I need your help. We need some brilliant ideas. What do you recommend for healthier options to replace the Snickers, Twix Bars, Cokes, and Slush Puppies?  

We don’t have full kitchens in the shops, so the best ideas will be in easy to serve, single-portion sizes.  I’m looking for ideas like specific brands of pre-packaged “treats,” or other creative ideas like having an occasional Made-to-Order Smoothie Bar.  Above all, it’s got to be things kids will be excited to purchase and eat.  (Bags of baby carrots or salted nuts just won’t do…)

Please also take a quick look at this excerpt of our (draft) Food & Nutrition Policy (PDF) — these are the guidelines we’re using for the offerings at the Trading Posts.

If you have any ideas, please share in the comments — with specific brand and product names if possible. I’ll compile the list and report back to Shawn.  Thanks for your help!

Photo by kungfubonanza.

A photo of Andrew Wilder leaning into the frame and smiling, hovering over mixing bowls in the kitchen.

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Hi! My name is Andrew Wilder, and I think healthy eating doesn’t have to suck. With just three simple eating rules, we'll kickstart your journey into the delicious and vibrant world of unprocessed food.

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March 27, 2012 1:06 pm

I run the un-official snack bar at work, so I’ve faced the challenge of trying to appeal to picky palates. I’ll list a few of the things I’ve found at Costco that may work for you. Some may be local items, but you may be able to find the West Coast equivalent. Clif Bars have a kids line. Here’s a review from Snack Girl – Horizon Dairy makes fabulous boxed milk – shelf stable – in single serving sizes in 1% Plain, Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla. They’ also got other products like yogurt and string cheese. Chobani has great flavors, but the regular flavors may be too “adult” for kids, and the Little kids (Chobani Champions) too small a serving size for kids. Pop Chips – Come in single-serving packages and meet (at least the plain flavor, I did not check the others) your sodium/fat limitations. Lance… Read more »

March 27, 2012 1:05 pm

Some things that have worked well at summer programs I have taught at:

Stretch Island Fruit Leathers (

Endangered Species Chocolates (the kids LOVE the Bug Bites!

Haven’t tried it at a summer camp yet but these are a great replacement for cornnuts: The Good Bean (

LOVE Peeled Fruit products!

Good luck!

Reply to  Carol
March 27, 2012 1:58 pm

Yes, my kid loves! the stretch island fruit leathers…

March 27, 2012 12:40 pm

Heather’s recipe is my favorite too. I usually mix dates with walnuts. Flatten in a pan. It makes a perfect dessert as well with strawberries on top, either diced or blended!

Jean Layton
March 27, 2012 12:30 pm

As a Girl Scout leader for the past 8 years, I love this topic.
There are so many great packaged foods out there for the kids now.
Some of my favorite ones,
These are way better than ice cream, come in cherry and berry flavors.
Thunderbird Energetica Bars. great flavors, raw food, even the wrapping is healthy.
For salty snacks, check out Popcorn Indiana. They do Kettle Corn, chocolate covered popcorn etc that are all way better than a twix.
All of these are non GMO and gluten free too. So you can be happy with the “junk food” they get at the trading post.

March 27, 2012 12:08 pm

You are awesome, Andrew! Maybe I will get cracking on our council here in San Diego?! Granola bars, protein bars, trail mix, portable fresh fruit (apples, bananas, oranges), whole wheat pretzels, all fruit popsicles… all of this can be found in small packs at your local Costco, including organic options like freeze-dried fruit, and other popular organic cookies, crackers and snacks.

March 27, 2012 12:06 pm

I enjoy Kashi’s Go-Lean crunchy protien bars. It’s still in a package, but at least it’s “all natural”, and comes in 2 yummy flavors (that I know of). One is a Chocolate Peanut butter, and the other is Chocolate Caramel Corn. So far the only place I have been able to find them is at one of the local wholesale clubs.

March 27, 2012 12:00 pm

There’s a healthy snack I make for my girls all the time. I haven’t ever seen them pre-made in a store, but basically all it takes to make them is a food processor. I chop up equal parts of chewy (prunes or dates, or a combination of prunes with dried apricots or golden raisins) and crunchy (walnuts and almonds usually). Sometimes I’ll toss in a tablespoon of cocoa powder to make it a little chocolaty. Just mix all the processed goods together and either roll in balls or flatten in a pan. Let cool and then cut into squares. They are a hit in my house! And with a cool name, I think other young kids would like the combination of chewy, chocolaty, and crunchy.

March 27, 2012 11:59 am

*look into Tropical Ice – essentially a slushie, but with natural fruit juices and lower sugar content (and none of that nasty HFCS)

*Nature Valley Granola Bars
*If you have a cooler case (I’m assuming so because of the cokes) – yogurts with granola
Kashi makes a full line of (I HATE the terminology) “kid-friendly” snacks
*The Chocolates are good – as long as its some form of higher cocoa ratio chocolates and not any of the high fat mass producers.
*Any of the Quaker low sodium Flavored Rice Cake snacks ( not the styrofoam they were when we were kids, some of them are pretty damned tasty)

March 27, 2012 11:59 am

The first snack that comes to mind that is healthy and may appeal to kids are Lara Bars, especially the ones with more a “dessert kid appeal”

Chocolate Chip Brownie
Apple Pie
Carrot Cake
Cashew Cookie

Check out the link for ingredients and nutritional information – many of the flavors are vegan, soy free & gluten free 🙂

March 27, 2012 11:58 am

Hi Andrew: Great project – congrats! You might want to check out Somersault Snacks ( I don’t have any affiliation with them, but they donated snacks to our school’s fun run and the kids REALLY loved them. The snacks are made with sunflower seeds and toasted grains, and they came in small single-serve packages, which was very convenient for kids who were running all over the place. I have a contact name somewhere…I’ll email you!

Reply to  Jeanne @JollyTomato
March 27, 2012 1:50 pm

Sorry to say, just picked these up as a snack for my teen – looked great to me as a non-sweet, healthy snack option for after school – I think they taste good – he didn’t like them at all….

Reply to  Sharon
November 15, 2012 2:48 pm

When your tastebuds are conditioned to sugar and refined flours, the good stuff does not taste good, at first. Kids need consistent exposure to healthy foods and a decrease in the junk…whether they like it or not. Stop feeding kids junk food and they develop a taste for healthy foods.

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