Cook n Craft Academy in Loudon allowed children to get in the kitchen and break out the crochet needles this summer.
Children learned how to crochet and make baked chicken fingers, baked fries and Reese’s chocolate peanut butter cake. The activities proved a hit among students as they practiced newly learned skills.
“I had no clue how to crochet, and I figured out that when you make the chicken tenders, it’s very messy,” Abby Knott, 9, said with a laugh. “I really liked crocheting because it’s really absorbed and you can just do it and never stop. You can just keep on going on and on. I’ve been doing this all day.”
Knott, who has attended several classes at the academy, immediately knew she wanted to sign up.
“I love it here, and I really wanted to know how to crochet,” Knott said.
Christina Deyo, owner and summer camp instructor, created the series of day camps last summer. Not only does the day camp get children out of the house, but it teaches many activities and skills no longer integral in today’s youth.
“I have six kids,” Deyo said. “… In just in teaching my own kids, they were eager to learn, but I know with other kids in their class, they didn’t know how to cook, they didn’t know how to sew. It’s like suddenly all these great things, like crocheting and cooking, suddenly became a lost art.
“While electronics are great, I think electronics or phones have taken over the kids’ world these days,” she added. “That’s all they do, when, in fact, they could put the phone down and just take some time to get back to the basics, cooking, crafting, because it’s really what links us from one generation to the next.”
Deyo said many of the recipes she uses in the cooking portion of classes are from her parents and grandparents of Polish and Italian descent. She reflected on the many family memories attached with cooking and crafting, and she hopes to share the same experience with students.
“When you do put down the electronics, and if it’s even just an hour or two of cook and craft, and you do it with your family, you make memories,” Deyo said. “To me, I grew up with the phone attached to the wall — you didn’t have a cellphone. Some of my favorite memories were sitting in the kitchen with my mom, and my mom was making stuffed cabbage and she would share stories of when she was a kid, how her mom made that recipe.”
Beyond recipes learned from family, Deyo has extensive experience with cooking and crafting. She is an eight-time Emmy Award winning producer, worked as Martha Stewart’s producer, aired on the Rosie O’Donnell show as “Crafty Christina” and hosted her own show on Food Network, “Lighten Up.”
Though Deyo’s brain is racked with knowledge from other culinary and crafting queens, she reaches out to her own kids and students to get an inside look of what they want to make.
“I just always say that we’re a work in progress because we’re still figuring out what kids want to learn,” she said. “… I know that as a kid growing up, I would have loved to have something like this, so I try to do what I know I would’ve loved as a kid. Having the six kids … my youngest is my son who’s 7, and I just try to see thing through his eyes, like what would he like.”
Deyo admitted sometimes her children’s suggestions were not something she had considered before, such as a class series dedicated to making slime.
“My daughter suggested, ‘Mom, you know what kids are really into is slime,’” she said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I know kids are into slime. I can’t imagine their parents would pay for a class for them to learn slime.’”
To Deyo’s surprise, the slime classes were booked within the first day.
Beyond summer camp, the academy also offers “Mommy and Me” classes, senior classes, classes for those with special needs and birthday parties. Deyo is open to more suggestions.
“As much as we can help different needs in the community, it’s important for us to fulfill whatever people need,” she said. “We want to be there for them.”
For more information, visit www.cookncraftacad emy.com or call 865-394-8796.