Thursday, October 27, 2011

Counselor Interview: Isabel

It is time for another Counselor Interview. This time it is Isabel. She is coming back for her second summer out at CFA in 2012. She is a freshman at UT-Austin right now and helping out with retreats. Check out her answer and catch up with what is going on in her life.


So how many summer summer have you been going to CFA as a camper then counselor?

11 summers

This past summer was your first summer as a counselor, what was your favorite memory?

As a counselor, it was any Sunday night because of campfire, getting to know my new campers and all the excitement that comes with a new session.

What was your favorite memory as a camper?

It had to be the LIT embers. Through embers I was able to get closer to my peers than ever before. Also, it allowed me to grow as a person because I was able to open up and share my dreams/fear/hopes etc...

What counselor or staff member most influenced your life and why?

John Deaso (LIT coordinator summer '09, now a Y professional in Austin)! He gave me a role model to aspire to be (besides my parents) both as a camp counselor and a person. He made my entire LIT session really feel and know what camp love is.

What is your favorite song/skit?

Favorite song is the one that goes, "cause I came to CFA I know what I wanna be, cause I came to CFA, a ______ I will be". I don't know its proper title. It's my favorite because it has the best dance moves ever.

What is the Most important thing you learned at CFA?

Umm, it's really cheesy but through camp I learned how to live a positive fulfilling life.

Last one, if you could describe CFA in three words what would they be?

1. Best
2. Place
3. Ever

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Plate: Protien

Let's explore proteins. Remember, most of this information is taken from, so check it out to learn more.

PROTEIN: What foods are in the Protein Foods Group? All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, processed soy products, nuts, and seeds are considered part of the Protein Foods Group. Beans and peas are also part of the Vegetable Group. For more information on beans and peas, see Beans and Peas Are Unique Foods.

Select a variety of protein foods to improve nutrient intake and health benefits, including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. Young children need less, depending on their age and calories needs. The advice to consume seafood does not apply to vegetarians. Vegetarian options in the Protein Foods Group include beans and peas, processed soy products, and nuts and seeds. Meat and poultry choices should be lean or low-fat.

Some commonly eaten choices in the Protein Foods Group, with selection tips, are:
  • Meat such as lean beef, pork, venison, bison, lamb (this includes ground meats, just be sure it is LEAN). Be sure to look at fat content, how the meat is prepared and recommended serving portions.
  • Poultry such as chicken, turkey and duck. Again, preparation is key. Duck is a higher fat meat than say, chicken breast. Darker poultry meat is higher in fat as well, that is why white chicken or turkey is the most recommended.
  • Nuts and seeds such as peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. Following recommended serving is best and nuts in their natural state are better than roasted or salted nuts.
  • Seafood comes in several forms: fin fish, shell fish and canned. Salmon, tuna, trout, catfish are all examples of fin fish with salmon giving you the highest benefit. Shellfish are just that, fish with a shell. So things like crab, lobster, shrimp and crayfish. And then canned fish such as tuna, salmon, and anchovies. Again, grilled, not fried, cooking methods are best.
  • Eggs When eaten in moderation, no more than 2 every other day or so, eggs add a great protein to your diet. Prepared poached, hard boiled, soft boiled or fried (in olive oil or a lightly sprayed pan) and then paired with black beans, whole grain English muffin or fruit, eggs a delicious variation to meat.
  • Beans and Peas make a great substitution to meat and are great for vegetarian diets. Just remember to pair them with fruits and veggies. Black, pinto, kidney, and garbanzo beans are often found in CFA menu. Sometimes they are out in the open and other times they are within a dish adding a nice punch of protein. Did you know beans make a great thickener for soups and chilies as they give off starch?
As with most foods, protein is an essential part of your daily diet, but must be eaten in moderation and be low in fat.

  • 2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 T parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch paprika
In a food processor, blend the beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and parsley. Place in a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and parsley, chopped.

This is a great recipe that can be enjoyed alone, as a dip (as shown) or a spread for various sandwiches.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa
  1. 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  2. 1 can sweet corn kernels, drained
  3. 1 tomato, chopped
  4. 1/4 C onion
  5. 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  6. 1/2 bunch cilantro, rinsed and chopped
  7. 2 T line juice
  8. Garlic salt and pepper to taste
  9. 1 Avocado, chopped (optional)
Mix first 8 ingredients in a bowl, lightly toss. Chill until ready to serve. If adding avocado, add just before serving as it will brown. Serve with Baja Fish Tacos (found in Camp Kitchen Magic cookbook), with chips, Mexican dishes or how you prefer.

Eat well and be healthy. Remember to check out for more information.

In the Spirit of Camp,


Join us for the Youth Empowerment / Ragger Retreat Dec 9-11, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Giddy Up, CFA— Your Fall Horse Update

Howdy howdy, campers, staff and families. I haven't written in a few weeks and wanted to share some of the exciting changes we are planning for the YMCA Camp Flaming Arrow's Equestrian Education program in 2012.

Three great NightRyders on Whiskers, Cash, and Rocky.
The NightRyders program was a big hit for 6 of the 8 camp weeks this year. NightRyders offered some of the more advanced teen riders one or two nights during their week to come out and try their hand at a different equine activity— some nights it was beginner jumping, sometimes trying out English or Australian riding styles and saddles, riding bareback, or trying their hand at competitive trail riding obstacles with Tiffany and myself. Some Ryders loped for the first time. This was the first year for the group and participants were chosen on a volunteer basis. Next year, due to demand, we will do our best to ensure in advance riders who are interested and eligible (must be a teen and been enrolled in Saddle Club or another year-round equine activity for at least two years) have a chance to try at least one NightRyder activity. If you have any suggestions for safe, fun, and exciting horse programming for our best riders to try, let us know in the comments section below!

Camp favorite Salty and his Saddle Club rider, Week 7.
Currently, we are in the planning stages of expanding the CFA Saddle Club from 12 to 18 members. To do this safely, we hope to have a total of four equestrian staff who can accommodate two groups of riders on two different curricula, who will rotate trail riding classes, round pen classes, and arena classes.  Each week of summer camp, we have to turn away potential Saddle Club riders who were unable to sign up in time to claim their spot. We hope to serve more horse-crazy (or at least, horse-curious!) children who want to ride.

Young campers giving horseback riding their first try.
With the potential expansion of riders, we will continue to look for quality horses who meet the high standards set for a Great Camp Horse! Not all of ours are beautiful, but it takes calm, courage, intelligence, and patience to be a camp mount and we are in the process of acquiring three new horses this fall. With spring retreats coming, we'll have a chance to see how these horses do in the high-pressure situation of camp, and they may make the cut to be part of our string for summer 2012. The camp mustang colts, Indigo and Flint, are not ready for full-time camper duties yet, but are still undergoing training and fine-tuning and we would love to see them being ridden by advanced campers in 2013.  I'll be attending clinics this fall to continue to develop my own skills, including natural horsemanship workshops and dressage lessons. Hopefully I can bring a lot of that back to CFA

As for your summer 2011 Equestrian Staff, who both love their own brand of competitive trail riding— Tiffany and her horse, Rocky, continue to compete in American Competitive Trail Horse Association (visit for more information) rides and I continue my involvement with the North American Trail Ride Conference ( We have facilitated several retreats this fall, with many more planned in the spring, and CFA Adopt-a-Horse riding lessons continue throughout the year. Both of us have acquired mustangs from the Bureau of Land Management and spend time on a daily or weekly basis training them to be great trail horses of the future.

Tiffany & Rocky on a competitive ride near Ingram, TX.
Bandit & I riding near Caprock Canyon.

Happy trails to all of you readers,
And hope your lives are full and happy!

— "MA"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Plate: Fruits

Let's explore fruits. Remember, most of this information is taken from, so check it out to learn more.

should complete the vegetable half of the plate, thus making your meal half filled with fruits and vegetables. Any fruit or 100% fruit juice counts as part of the Fruit Group. Fruits may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed. Some commonly eaten fruits are apples, oranges, melon, berries, grapes, pineapple and more. Be cautious of those fruits that are high in sugar such as bananas and grapes. While healthy, they do add a large amount of sugar to your diet. Melons and berries are great, low sugar choices.

Check out the Fruit Gallery on the My Plate website to learn more about fruit size/amount and portion sizes.

Fresh Fruit Smoothie

Get out your cup/glass that you will use to drink your smoothie (a healthy choice is one that is about 8 ounces big). Fill it with a combination of your favorite fruits (see list below). If using yogurt, pour that in over the fruit, then pour in apple juice to just cover the fruit. Pour all into a blender. Blend until smooth. If too think, add a bit more apple juice. Pour back into your cup / glass and enjoy!
  • Strawberries, frozen
  • Peaches, frozen
  • Bananas
  • 1 drinkable yogurt, strawberry or strawberry banana (optional)
  • 100% Apple Juice
Other fruit options are kiwi, pineapple, melon, mango, papaya or any fruit you love. You can also add a bit of honey to sweeten.

Grilled Fruit

The next time your parents are grilling, ask them to grill some fruit as well. Great fruits are stone fruits such as peaches, plums, or nectarines and pineapple. For the stone fruit, cut in half, remove the stone (seed) and brush with olive oil. For pineapple, cut into 1 inch thick rounds and brush with olive oil. Place on grill, cut side down. Grill for 5 minutes and then flip. Grill for 5 more minutes. Goes great with fish, chicken, or drizzled with honey and served as dessert.

Another idea is to take stone fruit, pears, pineapple and cut into large chunks. Skewer making kabobs. Brush with oil and grill, turning every few minutes until heated, about 6 minutes. Brush with honey before serving.

Eat well and be healthy. Remember to check out for more information.

In the Spirit of Camp,


Join us for the Youth Empowerment / Ragger Retreat Dec 9-11, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Plate: Vegetables

Let's explore vegetables. Remember, most of this information is taken from, so check it out to learn more.

VEGETABLES should take up a bit more than 1/4 of your plate. Now what type of vegetables should they be? According to the USDA any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the Vegetable Group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed.

Vegetables are organized into 5 subgroups, based on their nutrient content. Some commonly eaten vegetables in each subgroup are:
  1. Dark Green Veggies such as broccoli, spinach, or romaine lettuce and more. Note, iceberg lettuce, while a veggie, is so light in color that it doesn't add a lot of nutritive value to your diet.
  2. Red & orange vegetables such as tomatoes, carrots, squashed, sweet potatoes. Try tossing these in a little olive oil and roasting them. Delicious!
  3. Beans and Peas such as split peas, lentils, black beans, soy beans (edamame) and more
  4. Starchy Veggies such as potatoes, sweet peas, corn, lima beans and more. Try to avoid this category as much as possible as it does not add a lot to your diet. Stick with 1, 2, 3, and 5.
  5. Other veggies such as okra, asparagus, artichokes, and more.
Salad Hints: Avoid iceberg lettuce. Fill your salad bowl with dark green leaf lettuces like spring mix. I prefer "baby spring mix" as the leaves are tender. Add a few sliced almonds, cut up apple and dried cranberries for added taste and texture. and remember, when at a restaurant, ask for your dressing on the side, then try to use 1 T or less. A good way to do this is to add it in and thoroughly toss your salad to coat it well. Adding a dash of salt and pepper helps flavor your salad as well. Too much dressing can make your salad have a higher caloric count than a hamburger! So watch out.

What vegetables do you like? Are they dark in color? If not, how can your begin to change your eating habits? What new vegetable have your tried lately?

Here is a recipe for you to share with your family. It is easy and just might introduce you and your family to a new favorite.

Roasted Vegetables
  • 4 Carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths OR 2 cups baby carrots
  • 4 Parsnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths
  • 1 Sweet Potato, cut to match the carrots
  • 1 Sweet Onion, cut into wedges OR 1 cup pearl onions
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, peeled (optional)
  • 4 Beets, peeled and quartered (if large) (optional)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare all veggies, pat dry if wet. In a dark roasting pan, toss veggies in oil, spread out evenly, add salt and pepper to taste (you can always add more). Place in oven. After 10 minutes, stir the veggies. Cook 10 more minutes. Check to see if they are lightly browned and tender. Cook until you feel they are tender to your liking.

If you do not want the beets to bleed red all over your other veggies, then wrap them in foil and place in oven next to pan. Roasting vegetables brings out the sweet, nutty taste. Delicious. Also try roasted asparagus, okra, broccoli and more.

Eat well and be healthy! Remember to check out for more information.

In the Spirit of Camp,


Join us for the Youth Empowerment / Ragger Retreat Dec 9-11, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

New Rainy Day Activities!

This is your chance. Choose a rainy day activity you would like to see added to camp. Take a look at the videos and cast your vote on Facebook or here on our blog!

See which cabin can make the longest one of those.

Have each cabin send a person up to compete in the minute game. Who completes the most would win.

A little longer of a game, but each cabin would choose a participant and they would get CFA points to choose a prize at the end. 

Choosing activities and making decisions about camp is what we do at the Youth Empowerment Retreat. You get to make decisions on how to make camp better. It is Dec. 9th - 11th. It is also a ragger's retreat. Don't for get to sign up if you interested.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Healthy Spirit, Mind & Body

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will discuss healthy spirit, mind and body covering such topics as healthy eating, exercise, Raggers, mental health and of course, sharing recipes. If you have any ideas, would like me to cover a topic or just want to chime in, please feel free to email me at

Did you know that First Lady Obama recently helped launch the new "My Plate" healthy eating program? The USDA has replaced the food pyramid so many of us are used to seeing with the new, easier to understand "my plate" concept. The hope is that it is easier to understand and will lead to healthier eaters.

The graphic shown, a plate divided into portion size for each type of food is simple if understood. Let's take a little time to explore the plate. You can find complete information at

The plate is divided into 5 categories, the majority taken up by vegetables and grain. The 5 categories are:
1. Vegetables
2. Fruits
3. Protein
4. Grains
5. Dairy

Over the next 5 weeks, I will take you on a closer look at all the categories, explaining what is meant and what to eat followed up by recipes from my recipe book and the CFA recipe book, "Camp Kitchen Magic"

Here is a recipe to get us started. Add some fruit and glass of milk and your plate is covered:

Camp Spaghetti w Meat Sauce
  • 1 lb ground LEAN turkey or beef OR 1 1/2 Cs lentils
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms
  • 3 gloves garlic
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 T cooking wine (optional)
  • 2 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
  • basil (fresh = 1/4 C; dried = 2 T) adjust to your liking
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oregano, thyme, or other Italian seasonings you like (we only use basil at camp)
  • 1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti pasta (1/2 lb for up to 5 people)
  • Parmesan (optional)
Begin browning meat in a large stock pot. Fine chop carrots, onion, mushrooms and garlic in a food process (if you don't need to "hide" veggies, hand chopping is fine and makes a pretty sauce). Add to browning meat and cook until meat is browned and veggies are tender. Stir in remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes or until you are ready to serve. If too runny, mix a slurry of 1/2 cup cold water to 2 T flour. Whisk into sauce, simmer until thick. Serve over whole wheat pasta and top with Parmesan.

If using lentils, omit in browning step, add with liquids. Cook for 1 hour or until lentils are tender. You may need to add more liquid as they cook, but probably not.

For vegetarian sauce, replace meat with:
1/2 C lentils
Add 1 1/2 Cs chopped zucchini and/or yellow squash

Eat well and be healthy. Remember to check out for more information.

In the Spirit of Camp,


Join us for the Youth Empowerment / Ragger Retreat Dec 9-11, 2011