Why proper nutrition is key to learning and development

From pretty much the moment you drop off your child at WinSport for summer camp, they’ll be moving, being active and learning life skills.

And the correct fuel is so essential for optimal learning – both physically and mentally.

Kyle Tritter, a Team Lead for WinSport's summer camps, serves up lunch. WinSport has evolved its lunch program to ensure kids have nutritious food that gives them the right fuel for their day of activities.
Kyler Tritter, a Team Lead for WinSport’s summer camps, serves up lunch. WinSport has evolved its lunch program to ensure kids have nutritious food that gives them the right fuel for their day of activities.

Kyler Tritter is a Team Lead for summer camps and says nutrition is a key component to having a good day at summer camp.

“When you have a nutritious meal, instead of hot dogs and popsicles, you’ll see fewer breakdowns with the younger kids and the older kids feel less lethargic or tired,” Tritter explains. “What they eat is the fuel for your body which is another aspect we try to teach them. What you put into your body is what your body uses. You can feel better and perform better when you have the right food.”

As an organization that teaches sport to all ages – from toddlers in how to skate lessons to Canadian Olympians training to reach the podium – it’s understandable that WinSport strives to provide the type of food for people to reach their goals. It’s something WinSport’s executive chef Liana Robberecht has been focusing on during the last few years.

“We started focusing more on healthier food about three years ago, beginning with our offerings in the Garden Café,” says Robberecht. “WinSport caters to athletes at all stages of their journey, so it is important to have the proper fuel. We achieve this by implementing variety of options in the grab-and- go sections, salad bar and through daily specials.”

Robberecht says it was equally important to strategize meals for summer camp participants.

“We then took a more serious look at what options are we giving the children that participate in summer camp, we wanted to work with our camp instructors more closely to be able provide good food,” says Robberecht.

Tritter says the nutritious food has had a positive effect.

“Every day there is always one item of the food groups – there’s always a protein, a whole grain and fruit and vegetables,” says Tritter. “It is really good – the food looks a lot more enjoyable, it’s not hot dogs and popsicles – it’s actually food that will provide kids the correct fuel for the day.”

Some examples of the meals prepared for summer camp participants include baked gluten-free chicken fingers, house-made chicken meatballs, house-made turkey sliders, watermelon and vegetable sticks.

WinSport isn’t just providing nutritious food for campers, instructors are teaching them how to eat right. Tritter says some of the camps get the kids to build meal plans specific to their sport.

“For athletic development camps in rugby and soccer, the kids create nutrition goal setting to help them become a well-rounded athlete,” says Tritter. “We introduce them to the different food groups and how much they should eat in each. We also teach them about alternatives to meat and alternatives to dairy. The older groups (age 10-14) make a game-day meal, which includes what they would eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks and a plan to keep hydrated during day.”

Robberecht says her team will continue to work with camp instructors to learn more about their nutritional requirements for summer camp activities so kids not only enjoy the meals but have the appropriate fuel for their daily activities.

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