The aroma of citrus filled the hall of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Monday as youngsters made lemon cookie dough.

Kids donned aprons as they followed instructions to measure the ingredients, combine them together and plop the dough on a cookie sheet.

It was all part of a cooking camp hosted by St. Paul’s UMC in an effort to give youngsters something fun and different to do while school is out.

The camp, which is open to kids in preschool through fifth-grade, doesn’t just teach them a life skill; it also gives them tangible results of their work, said Lois Lister, one of the volunteers at the church on Monday.

“It’s just about finding joy and success in what they do,” she said.

On Monday, camp goers made lemon and strawberry cookies. Other treats on deck for the week include pizza and pumpkin bread.

The cooking camp has been a staple in the community for 10 years. But this is the first year it has been broken down into two sessions, said Sue Owens, one of the planners for the event.

“Last year, there were 20 to 30 kids who were on the waiting list, and they didn’t get to participate,” she said. “I felt bad for them, so I suggested we have two sessions.”

There are 102 kids signed up for the camp between the two weeks, she said.

“There’s so many more children we can impact,” she said. 

Also new this year is the vacation Bible school element. 

“We wanted to make sure there’s some spiritual content,” Owens said.

In addition to scheduling worship sessions into the day, the camp also gives the students a chance to produce skits, all which had to do with the theme, “Fruits of the Spirit.”

“So a lot of what we do is fruit-related,” Owens said.

During the week-long camp, the youngsters also will be treated to a craft session, which is centered around the “Fruits of the Spirit” theme.

On Monday, they decorated their aprons to illustrate the theme. Many kids drew different kinds of fruits; others drew unicorns. 

“I’m having as much fun as the kids are,” Lister said. “They have so much fun and learn so much — it’s a happy environment.”

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