The following article was submitted by Katie Martin, Smith County Extension Agent:

Abby Malone and two other campers at Experience! The Sweet Life Culinary Camp. 

Abby Malone from Smith County had a sweet time, literally, at an annual Middle Tennessee culinary camp. Abby was one of 58 4-H’ers from across the region to attend the specialty camp, this year’s theme of which – Experience! The Sweet Life – was all about candy.

Participants at the three-day camp, which was held on campus at Tennessee Tech University, learned to make a variety of sweet candy confections, including Mexican tamarind candy, gummi bears, after dinner mints, hard candy, taffy, truffles, decorative candy roses and more.

“They had a chance to sample – but only sample – the recipes at each station because their final challenge was to plan and build a candy buffet based on a theme each team randomly selected at the beginning of camp, and we were all impressed by the level of skill and imagination each and every team put into their creations,” said Director Aneta Eichler, a University of Tennessee Extension Agent in Cheatham County.

A total of eight teams, with no two themes alike, created buffets representing such topics as Stars and Stripes, Anniversary Celebration, My Favorite Holiday, Out of This World and so on. When the competition concluded, parents and caregivers arriving to pick up tuckered out campers were invited to make grab-and-go bags of the sweets to take home with them. 

“Culinary camp is a great way to introduce 4-H’ers to specific kitchen skills and concepts that they can continue to build on and use later in their personal and possibly professional lives,” said Jamie Harris, a Central Region Area Specialist in 4-H Youth Development and Family and Consumer Sciences.

What’s even better, she said, is that the camp gives participants an opportunity to learn while having fun. Next year will mark its fourth year, and it’s never been the same two years in a row; each year’s camp has focused on a different food-related theme. 

That way, the activities feel new even if a camper comes multiple times – and many do! The culinary camp is open to 4-H’ers in sixth through eighth grades.

While plans are still underway for next year, more information will be made available as details are finalized. For further information concerning the many opportunities that 4-H has to offer the youth in Smith County, call 615-735-2900.