Last Tuesday I had the pleasure of hosting a gluten free baking demo at the 2nd Annual Celiac Strong Camp in Ithaca, NY . I can’t say enough how happy I am to have been a part of this wonderful camp. Kids and parents came from all over New York state, Canada, and even Florida to be a part of Celiac Strong. Celiac Strong is a summer stay away camp filled with fun, sun, swimming and gluten free food. But It’s the latter that makes Strong different from the typical summer camp experience.
Those of us living with celiac disease can attest to the fact that living gluten free can be frustrating at best and isolating at worst. Even though the questions What will I eat? or What is that made of? become second nature, none of us would be being fully honest if we didn’t admit that the constant scrutinizing and passing on foods at parties, gatherings, and events does not wear at our psyche over time. The ability to be completely and totally worry free vanishes once one receives a celiac diagnosis. The constant planning of meals and snacks when on the go does become part of life, but it also induces anxiety, stress, and in some cases, resentment.
Celiac Strong Camp takes the worry out of life and for a few days kids and adults alike can eat and live in a beautiful environment with like minded individuals. Individuals that understand all that comes with living with celiac disease.
The level of camaraderie, positivity, and overall kindness of camp Founder Sabrina Devos and her mom Chris is omnipresent and infectious from the moment you set foot in the main cabin. Volunteers from all ages work tirelessly to ensure that the Celiac Camp experience is one that is fun, organized, and worry free. This year I was able to fully immerse myself in camp the experience. I was set up with two wonderful volunteers; nicknamed PB and J who were my assistants during my demo. The participants were broken up into groups of three. Each group was lively, interested, and invested in learning about the Cookie Cake recipe that I presented. The younger campers were the best. I was literally blown away by their knowledge, know how, and participation. Six, seven, and eight year olds should really run the world.
Dinner was provided and I literally almost ate my plate. Chris’ homemade mashed potatoes and stuffing was out of this world. I couldn’t help but ask, Are you sure this stuffing is gluten free…since I haven’t had stuffing in years. To be able to eat without worry is literally mind boggling. It wasn’t until I was in a completely safe environment that I realized how much we take for granted this so often overlooked commodity. It made me appreciate the adage that we really don’t realize how good something is until we no longer have it.
I could go on and on for pages and pages but I won’t. Celiac Strong Camp is more than amazing. As well run and organized as it is in just the second year, speaks to the commitment, passion, and dedication of Sabrina, Chris, and the wonderful volunteers. If you are looking for a safe summer getaway camp for you and your family, Celiac Strong is the place to be in the summer. Click the image below to learn more about it and watch the video above to listen to one camper’s narrative as to why Celiac Strong is so amazing.