Say Cheese!

“I appreciate animals for all they contribute to people.”

One camper from B-4 said this after a block where campers had the opportunity of working with our Teva (Nature) Wilderness Staff to make goat cheese. The third ring of our mission focuses on building a partnership with nature, and the Tawonga Farm and Garden are integral to this work.

One of the most popular blocks this summer has been teaching campers the process of making goat cheese. They start out by meeting the goats and learning where milk comes from and how to care for animals. We have two goats who live here with us named Rocket and Becky Bonanza Jellybean (that’s right!). In addition to our beloved goats, we take care of 18 chickens and two pigs!

Through working hands-on with the animals, campers have the opportunity to learn about composting and sustainability. We believe this direct interaction with animals and plants helps kids to develop an understanding of and appreciation for our relationship with the food we eat. During garden programs, bunks enjoy tasting home-grown produce and herbs from the garden and eggs from the chickens.

Today, B-4 was the first of many bunks this session to make goat cheese! After meeting the goats, the bunk made their way to the garden where they began collecting herbs, including lemon-balm, mint, oregano, and basil to spice up the goat cheese.

The next part of the process is especially fun for the campers. Using our Camp Chef Explorer stove in the garden (one of our newest additions to the garden) campers each take on a role in assisting the Teva staff members in every process of making the cheese. Beginning with setting the milk to a simmer in the pot, a few campers sprinkle in the herbs they personally collected while other campers dust in a few teaspoons of salt, garlic powder, and pepper. As soon as the milk begins to curdle, another camper pours in a few teaspoons of vinegar, witnessing that combining an acid to curdling milk will cause the curds to separate from the whey. As a last step, campers help strain the simple homemade cheese through a coffee strainer.

It is these simple moments of discovery that we believe are integral to the learning process for campers to create a partnership with nature and to understand all the hard work and energy that is required to produce delicious food. Our campers love the end result: a sweet and mild-tasting cheese, best-enjoyed with crackers. Through this truly farm-to-table experience, our campers learn to appreciate the joys of eating local and organic food, which they prepared themselves!  Below enjoy photos of B-4 making goat cheese as well as other activities throughout the day.