Ocean City Church’s Generosity Helps Kids’ Food Science Camp

Ocean City Church’s Generosity Helps Kids’ Food Science Camp

Children make Ocean City-inspired gingerbread “surf shacks” at the Food Science Camp. (Photos courtesy of Jennifer Bowman)


The spirit of cooperation is one reason, and a big one at that, why Ocean City claims the title of “America’s Greatest Family Resort.”

Large scale events, which the city seems to pull off dozens of times a year, don’t just happen. They take place because numerous people and organizations work together to make the magic happen.

“I’ve never seen anything like this town for an event,” said Tracey Herishen, who planned a major skateboarding event in Ocean City earlier this year. “At other places you are always trying to overcome obstacles. Here, (the city says) ‘What can we do to help make the event successful?’”

Another case in point is Ocean City’s day camp for kids ages 7-11 titled “Food Science in Ocean City: the Science of Making and Baking Desserts.”

The camp teaches kids that baking is actually a chemical reaction, and that adjusting ingredients and other aspects of the baking process affects the final result.

The only issue is that the Ocean City Bayside Center, the camp’s home, does not have kitchen facilities able to accommodate a baking project of the camp’s scale.

Enter St. Peter’s United Methodist Church on Eighth Street.

“St. Pete’s was incredible,” said Jennifer Phander, an Ocean City resident, retired teacher in the Middle Township district, and one of the camp counselors. “They didn’t just open their doors and let us use their kitchen, they were there for us.”

St. Peter’s United Methodist Church, located at the corner of Eighth Street and Central Avenue.

Phander said the campers reported to Bayside for their first day, walked to St. Peter’s, and for the rest of the week, parents dropped off and picked up their kids directly at the church, where the kids baked, baked, and baked some more in the professionally equipped kitchen facilities.

“You might assume that (a camp field trip) would be for a morning, or maybe for a day.  This was a major commitment for the church to let us take over the kitchen for an entire week,” Phander said.

Phander went on to say that St. Peter’s Pastor Larry Oksten wasn’t simply welcoming, he was present many times throughout the campers’ stay.

“The pastor was there and members of the staff were there and so interested and very helpful,” she said. “I wish I could remember the gentleman’s name who was there to help us clean up. The kids tried, but they will take a push broom and pull it behind them.”

The staff member cheerfully went over the areas the children missed, she said.

“That’s how the church pastor and staff were all week,” Phander remarked. 

Food Science campers focus on a baking lesson.

The camp, one of the city’s most popular, was filled to its 15-child limit, with a waiting list just as long.

The children made gingerbread houses, and because this is Ocean City, they gave their edible buildings a beach theme and adorned them with surfboards and other seaside staples. Their gingerbread houses became gingerbread “Surf Shacks.”

They also baked cakes, cookies and a variety of other dessert treats.

As if teaching kids how to bake and giving them a science lesson in the process weren’t enough, the cookies made by the children took on a higher purpose. 

The cookies weren’t eaten by the kids or taken home to enjoy later. Instead, they were donated to Kookie Kids Bake for a Cause, one of St. Peter’s missions.

The not-for-profit organization sells freshly baked cookies in the community, including at the weekly Ocean City Farmers Market. Proceeds from the cookie sales benefit a variety of local charities and causes, including a group that grants wishes for terminally ill kids.

Thus, through St. Peter’s generous donation of the church kitchen facilities, the cookies became the basis for yet another good deed.

Food Science campers get ready to create one of their sweet treats.