Chatham County offers a multiplicity of unconventional, yet fun summertime camps for kids. Carolina Tiger Rescue hosts their Big Cat Safari Camp every year, which focuses on teaching kids about the important role these large carnivores fulfill in their ecosystem. Reno Sharpe’s Music Store has previously hosted a summer Jam Camp, which engaged campers in old-timey music and arts & crafts. The Raleigh Street Gallery in Siler City held their Clay-n-Art Summer Camp this year too. It teaches participants how to use clay equipment, hand build projects, and use glazes and underglazes. Piedmont Farm Animal Refuge hosted a weeklong, half day camp this year too, where campers learned about healthy vegan cooking and animal care. Clearly, Chatham County is home to a diversity of summer camp opportunities.
One of the most popular summertime camps in Chatham County is the culinary camp at Central Carolina Community College. The program is geared towards future chefs who learn valuable cooking skills like basic kitchen safety, sanitation, and how to make healthy food choices. Campers start the day practicing their writing and spelling through creating their recipe books. The campers then head into the kitchen, where they prepare the snacks and meals they discussed earlier that day. They take part in a variety of hands-on kitchen activities, like stirring, whisking, and cooking, and utilize fresh ingredients to make nutritious snacks like granola bars, power balls, and snack mixes. Through teaching and helping the campers, the program achieves its main goal of showing kids fun ways they can cook with their parents. Chef Hamm runs the camp with the help of his culinary team, consisting mostly of students enrolled in CCCC’s Culinary Arts Continuing Education and Curriculum programs.
Along with assisting the camp, the culinary students also run the Pittsboro campus’ Natural Chef Café. The restaurant uses locally farmed and sourced food to create sustainable meals that appeal to today’s foodie or discerning traveler. The menu offers carefully prepared food at an affordable cost, and often features vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free dishes. The student operated restaurant’s hours are catered around the student’s, which change every semester. Currently the café is open June 7 – July 26 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11:30am – 12:30pm. In addition to running the café, the students also have coursework in nutrition, farm-to-table cooking, catering, menu design, fermentation and preservation, and so many other classes.
Successful chef and restaurateur Gregory Hamm is the heart of the culinary program at CCCC. His passion and experience is what drives him to give back to the industry, whether it is through his camps or programs. “I was inspired to teach as a student early in life who had amazing instructors and knew I wanted to offer the same compassion and leadership to people that had been offered to me,” commented Chef Hamm about what inspires him to teach.