Summer camp in full swing at Zenger Farm

See why these unique camps for outer East Portland kids offer more than simply digging in the dirt …

Zenger Farm summer day camps, taking place in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, are hosting double the number of campers this year compared to the past.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

After years of providing fun and educational summer day camp experiences for thousands of campers, while operating out of the small, two-bedroom farmhouse at Zenger Farm, this year’s campers are some of the first to enjoy amenities provided by the farm’s new Urban Grange structure.

“Our new Urban Grange building is several times bigger than our farmhouse,” commented new Zenger Farm Executive Director Mike Wenrick. “This new building has 6,600 ft.² inside, and we have a beautiful space and outside deck – it really allows us to invite more kids and more families into our programs.”

Zenger Farm Director of Communications Laleña Dolby, and its new Executive Director Mike Wenrick, here plan the grand opening of the new Urban Grange.

Throughout the summer, this additional space makes it easier for them to hold three camps simultaneously – for the kindergarteners and first-graders, second and third graders, and a fourth through sixth graders.

“Campers have the opportunity to plant crops, cultivate in our ‘Children’s Garden’, and also harvest food,” Wenrick smiled. “With the new commercial kitchen in the Grange, they also learn to cook, and enjoy eating the food they harvested – as well as do crafts.

“Overall, the purpose of the camps is to introduce kids to where food comes from,” Wenrick told East Portland News.

The new Urban Grange at Zenger Farm, in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood, is the hub for their summer camp activities.

“We know, from experience and research, that when children have direct contact with food – where it is grown – they are more likely to consume nutrition foods,” Wenrick went on. “They’re less likely to ‘turn their noses up’ at beets and carrots, if they’ve plucked them out of the ground and prepared them themselves.

“These camps provide kids an opportunity to learn about food and nutrition,” Wenrick said.

But it’s not all “farm chores” at these summer camps; there’s also lots of time for making crafts, and finding a shady spot for a fun “story time”.

Zenger Farm Camp Intern Lauren Johnston helps campers load fresh strawberries into an ice cream maker.

It’s not all planting and picking – there’s also time for crafts.

Zenger Farm Director of Communications Laleña Dolby pointed out that, thanks to the new Urban Grange building, they’ve been able to double the number of campers they accommodate – from the former 200, up to 400.

“We still have a few slots for campers available, throughout the summer,” Dolby announced. “And there are also some scholarships still available for Lents and Powellhurst-Gilbert families who may not otherwise be able to afford it.”

It’s “story time” under a grape arbor, with Camp Counselor Isabelle Miegs.

The Zenger Farm summer day camps run through the end of August.

For more information, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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