Cupcakes for Every Camper

As many of you know, I am a summer camp counselor at a local Girl Scout Day camp, and having this summer job has been an amazing experience and opportunity for personal growth over the past two years.  Earlier this summer, I was working with a group of Junior Girl Scouts (9-10 year olds) for the “plant-power” themed camp where they earned their Flowers badge. At our camp, we have to make a program-driven snack twice a week, and to help the counselors prepare, we are given a list of the campers’ allergies/dietary restrictions/ other pertinent health information before our planning period. So when I saw that I only had one girl with a tree nut allergy, I was excited because I am already a pro at avoiding nuts. For one of our snacks, I had planned that we would make flower-shaped sugar cookies and frost them in our favorite colors. 

But then on the first day of the week, one of my campers informed me that she was vegan.  This meant my flower-shaped sugar cookies idea would have to change. Luckily I had the perfect recipe for the group, and my camp directors were able to go shopping for my new ingredients later in the week, allowing me to bake these in the afternoon on Friday. Everything worked out in the end- and it probably provided a better experience for the girls than the cookies. 

I’ve had this recipe since childhood when I invited a girl who was allergic to eggs to my birthday party, and after some googling, we found this “Depression-era Wacky Cake” recipe. 

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cold water
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F, and grease an 8×8 pan, or line 12 cupcake tins.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, cocoa, and baking soda.  Mix with a whisk. 
  3. Then stir in oil, vinegar, and vanilla.  
  4. Once dry ingredients are moistened, pour in cold water and stir until smooth. 
  5. Add in chocolate chips (optional), and pour into your pan of choice
  6. Bake 8×8 for 30-35 minutes, or cupcakes for 18-24 minutes.

This recipe has become my family’s go-to for sturdy cupcakes and I was really glad to bring it to camp. The girls were thrilled to all have cupcakes that they could all eat. To finish them off, we used store-bought canned frosting that only contained sugar, chemicals, and soy. 

Next, I taught them how to pipe different kinds of flowers and this really got them excited. I was so proud of my crazy energetic girls who were able to sit down and learn to pipe slowly and  carefully. It was so rewarding to see their hard work yield such great results! Making something fun like this was a great end to the week, and allowed me to pull one of my favorite end-of-day camp counselor planning techniques- the treat and yeet.  Here’s to more fun (and safe) cooking adventures at camp!



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