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Parkwood Clinic's Responsive Feeding Camp- Camp Carrots!

Of all the creative projects I have been a part of at Parkwood this past year, Camp Carrots has been one of the most rewarding.

When we started discussing Camp Carrots with our leadership team, I knew we would need to pull from all our feeding experts; utilizing their time, talent, heart, skill and organization to get a project of this scope off the ground.

So many ideas started swirling around! From the beginning, we knew it would need to be play based, have wonderful and engaging sensory opportunities, a super fun lunch bunch and a dynamite home program component that were missing from other intensive programs we had seen in the past. After talking with our community partners, specifically some local dietetic interns, we learned a parent-orientation would be ideal.  

Caregiver Orientation

With the Holidays approaching, our first thought was Camp Carrots should be themed around Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a tough holiday for picky eaters. There are a lot of “pressures” around the Holiday and expectations are high for children to participate and engage in an unfamiliar and highly sensory traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Our idea was Camp Carrots would serve as a “preview” of what children could expect on the actual holiday. The last day of the camp would culminate with a full thanksgiving spread—mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, cranberries, and pumpkin pie (my favorite!) for the campers to tolerate, touch, taste or eat.  

We knew we wanted to Camp Carrots to build on responsive feeding therapy approaches.  Responsive feeding therapy utilizes sensory integration, strategic food chaining, food exploration, and mealtime routines to build joy and decrease pressure around mealtimes.

Parkwood Clinic has embraced a responsive feeding therapy approach to our treatment for the past 2 years. Responsive feeding approaches provide the foundation for our feeding therapy sessions, and we use these skills every day with real families at Parkwood Clinic in a 1:1 setting.  

Frankly, we are so fond of these approaches, all our new Parkwood clinicians receive training and CEUS through the Get Permission Institute from the start- this is a key part of their onboarding and orientation as a new clinician. Parkwood Clinic also regularly promotes the free caregiver course in our Parkwood community: Dear Parent: Navigating Challenging Mealtimes with Anxious Eaters ( as a foundational tool for understanding external vs. internal motivation and how to support children and build joy and peace around mealtimes.

With the responsive feeding foundation settled- we wanted to ensure Camp Carrots was even more impactful for our campers. Thus sparked the idea of the caregiver, “Pot of Gold”. We developed a Pot of Gold packet we would coach each caregiver on, which included handouts and visuals we knew would get campers talking about their food.  

The zones of regulation for feeding were a perfect tool to add to our Pot of Gold. This tool allows children to talk about what “zone” they are in with a particular food choice (i.e., blue zone, green zone, yellow zone, red zone) without using high pressure language such as, “I like it” or “I don’t like it”. Each zone corresponds to different steps to eating (e.g., tolerate, touch, smell, taste, eat) with overlap across the zones to demonstrate the flexibility each child has in their interactions with their foods.  

Now that we had our curriculum it was time to find our campers! I am happy to say, the response to the camp was incredible, and right away we filled the week with happy campers.  

We were confident the kids would make progress and learn heaps, but I did not realize how impactful the incidental learning would be thanks to the other campers learning from one other!

Incidental learning occurs when learning occurs unintentionally from the activities where learning is not a conscious goal for the learner. For example, during one of our food sensory activities, one of the campers made a creative robot out of toothpicks, apples and cheese.  The next day during lunch bunch, they nibbled on the apple and tasted the cheese on their own volition.  

Food Rehearsals are a wonderful component of responsive feeding approaches

The more I learn about intensive services, the more I understand that children tend to have robust growth when undergoing this service model— even more so than they may make in weeks or months of individual sessions—as seen across these three days of intensive sensory feeding therapy.

Food "picks" are a great way to interact with food without pressure to eat it

Camp Carrots wrapped up, with t-shirts, graduation certificates and a lot of fun memories! All three days were a blast, and the feedback we received from caregivers about the real-life outcomes of the camp was even more incredible.  

Camp Carrots Graduation!

I must acknowledge the outstanding organization and planning efforts Cassandra Bingen, M.S., CCC-SLP contributed to the camp. She was pivotal in creating Camp Carrots and I know it will continue to flourish with her shepherding this amazing project!

If you would like to join us for an upcoming Camp Carrots session, we would love to hear from you! We have released additional camp dates for 2024 and will be offering a special G-Tube Intensive week February 5th, 6th, and 7th, 2024.

Our 2024 Camp Carrots Schedule is now live

More information about Parkwood Clinic’s Camp Carrots is available on our website.

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