spark some fun
with your grandkids

Grand Sparks is a one-week activity day camp that will challenge grandparents to interactive outdoor play and recreation with their grandchildren.

Registration is closed!

For the fourth year running, Grand Sparks will be a fun week for children and their grandparents at the Edge of Walton. Registration for 2018 is open! The day camp will run July 9-13, 9am to 12-noon each day, cost is $125/person and includes lunch every day.


What is Grand Sparks?

Grand Sparks is a one-week activity day camp that will challenge grandparents to interactive outdoor play and recreation with their grandchildren (ages 5 and up). The ultimate goal of Grand Sparks is two-fold: 1) motivate older-adults to become more active and find a recreational activity that becomes a shared, routine, interactive pastime with youth, and 2) educate and encourage children to make healthy nutritional choices by getting them involved in meal preparation.

Small local businesses and individuals will lead sessions in adventure hiking, canoeing, biking, yoga, and much more. This program will also include nutrition workshops daily, where lunch is prepared together, after a morning of physical activity.

You don't have to officially be a senior, or a grandparent, to participate. You only need to be an older adult bringing a youth partner, and lots of sunscreen. Don't worry if you feel you are "out of shape!"We can modify the activities to suit the physical abilities of the participants.

Cost to participate: $125 per Person, Ages 5+

Grandparents can bring up to 2 grandchildren each. So, $125 for Grandpa, $125 for Grandchild, and $125 for an additional grandchild. This cost includes a delicious and nutritious lunch each day.

You will also be taking part in rural health research!

The primary research question: What motivates people to get active and stay active? Many people will start an exercise program with good intentions, but often lose interest or motivation to sustain that activity over time. We are curious whether a program like Grand Sparks, that focuses on building relationships through a shared activity, is a more sustainable exercise program. We will request follow-up surveys of all adult participants at the end of our week together, and 6-months after Grand Sparks. 

Secondary question: What do children know about nutrition, and are they putting that knowledge to use? Although adults usually do the grocery shopping, their meal choices are heavily influenced by their children's requests (or demands).We will be developing a quick survey tool to measure children's knowledge of nutrition, and how much they are putting that knowledge into practice. Currently, no tool exists that can quickly gauge nutritional knowledge/practice in children. We will request short follow-up surveys of the children at 6-months. 

In 2016, Healthy Kids Community Challenge - County of Huron provided funding to help us make water the first-choice beverage f or kids, and reduce sugar-sweetened beverages. In 2017, HKCC provided funding again to help boost fruit and veggie consumption. water as the first-choice beverage for kids, and reduce sugar-sweetened beverages. Their funding will also help us cover the costs of food, and development of our nutritional information handouts.

This program was started in 2015 with the financial assistance of the Ontario Senior Communities Grant, funded by the province of Ontario. We acknowledge the help of the province in getting this program launched.


Where is this happening?

All activities will be held at the Edge of Walton outdoor adventure park (map) from Monday, July 9 to 13, 2018.





Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health
(519) 612-1053


All activities held at
The Edge of Walton
42932 Walton Rd, Walton, ON
Click here for map.


Monday, July 9-13, 2018
9am - noon each day


Who is running Grand Sparks?

Building the program has been a team effort between Jay McFarlan, (Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health), and The Edge of Walton Community Project. Some key individuals that have helped develop the program: Alanna Roy, Julia Huber, Rachel Hayles (all past summer students with Gateway), Rob Bundy, and Brett Lee (Edge of Walton). 

The various activities will be run by local businesses...something different each day!


Canoe with Dwaine Forrest of Timber's Outfitters

Adventure Hiking & Biking with Rob Bundy of The Edge of Walton

Frisbee Golf, and more!




9am - registration and introductions

9:30am - SCIENCE! 6-minute walk test

10am - Activities guided by Edge of Walton crew

11:30am - Prepare Lunch at EAT! (Sandwiches and Fruit)

Functional Food of the day: Water!


9am - Canoe with Dwaine Forrest of Timber's Outfitters (Seaforth)

10am - Trail biking and adventure hiking

11:30am - Prepare Lunch and EAT! (Taco Tuesday & protein balls)

Functional Food of the Day: Inulin & beta-Glucan (Fibre)


9am - Yoga with Gwen! - bring a yoga mat or big beach towel

11:30am - Prepare Lunch and EAT! (Campfire Nachos & Yogurt Dips)

Functional Food of the Day: Pro-biotics (Yogurt)

Thursday, July 12

9am - Optical Obstacle Course

10am - Frisbee Golf

11:30am - Prepare Lunch and EAT! (Kabobs & Salads)

Functional Food of the Day: Vitamin-K (Leafy Greens)

Friday, July 13

9am - High-Ropes Challenge Course with Edge of Walton crew

11am - wrap-up and thank you

11:30am - Prepare Lunch and EAT! (Foil Wrapped Fish Friday)

Functional Food of the Day: Omega-3 (Fish)


unsplash food.jpg

Food is important.

Functional Food

You may have heard the term Functional Food, but you perhaps don't completely understand what it means. Functional Food can be defined as a food that has demonstrated some measurable health benefit. An example would be some fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There is a lot of scientific evidence to show that omega-3 fats can improve heart health, brain health, and immune health. 

All the food at Grand Sparks will have some functional food lesson attached to it. To further our example, Friday's lunch will be fish and veggies in a foil envelope and roasted on a campfire, and we will chat about how omega-3 fats work, and the best food sources for omega-3 fatty acids.

The Menu

The lunch menu at Grand Sparks 2016 was created specifically with functional food in mind. Every meal was met with rave reviews from all the grandparents (and most of the grandchildren too). Here are the recipes we used, all customized for our rustic, outdoor setting which lacked a proper kitchen facility, running water, and electricity. Preparing nutritious meals can be done in a camp setting with a little prep work ahead of time.

monday - make your own sandwiches

Meat - Turkey breasts, Roast Beef
Veggies - Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce
Bread - Various brands of whole-wheat bread, rolls and bagels
Sauces - Mustard, Mayo, Ketchup, Horseradish, Butter
Extras - Cheese, Pickled Hot Peppers
Dessert - Strawberries, Pineapple, Watermelon, Orange, Banana

Prep Work - All meat was cooked and sliced in a proper kitchen, then refrigerated and transported in a cooler to our camp.

On site - Grandparents and grandchildren were given cutting boards and knives, and instructed to slice up the veggies, fruit, and cheese for lunch, just prior lunch hour. Each person created their own sandwich, customized to their taste.

Functional Food for the Day - Water! [PDF of health benefits of Water]

Tuesday - Fajitas (wraps)

Meat - Leftovers from Monday, sliced into strips
Veggies - Peppers (red, yellow, orange), Lettuce, Onion, Avacado, Canned Corn, Canned Beans (rinsed and drained)
Wraps - Whole Wheat Flatbreads
Sauces - Salsa, Sour Cream, Fajita Spices
Extras - Cheese, Lime wedges, Aluminum Foil Trays
Dessert - Protein Balls (prepared day before, refrigerated, transported to site in cooler) we used a modified version of this recipe, adding chia seeds and chocolate chips

Prep Work - Most of the prep work was done previous day (preparing meat) 

On Site - Fire up the grill, because these wraps taste much better warm! Grandparents and grandkids got busy opening cans, grating cheese, chopping peppers, rinsing beans and slicing lime wedges (Note: Wash that lime juice off your hands because it makes your skin very sensitive to UV light, and can cause severe sunburn). On a foil tray (one tray per grandparent/grandchild pair) toss together meat, veggies and spices and heat on grill until warm (about 5 min). Take off grill and place directly onto flatbread, add cheese, salsa sour cream and a spray of lime. Wrap up and enjoy.

Functional Food of the Day - Fibre! [PDF of health benefits of Fibre]

Wednesday - Kabobs and salds

Kabobs - Chicken Breast, Zucchini, Red Onion, Cherry Tomatoes
Rainbow Salad - Red Cabbage, Green Cabbage, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Carrots, Raisins, Dressing (Mayonnaise, Honey, Cider Vinegar).
Spinach and Strawberry Salad - Spinach, Chives, Strawberries (sliced), Candied Nuts, Dressing (equal parts Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Maple Syrup)
Extras - Wood Skewers, BBQ Sauce

Prep Work - Chicken was cooked and cubed in a proper kitchen, then refrigerated and transported to site in a cooler. Ingredients for the rainbow salad were also pre-shredded or chopped. Dressings were mixed ahead of time and poured on just prior to serving.

On Site - Since the chicken is already cooked, we only need to warm it up and soften the veggies. Each grandparent and grandchild assembled their own kabob on a skewer, with some children even using strawberries from the salad. Kabobs were grilled 5 minutes, and splashed with a bit of BBQ sauce as they came off the grill. Ingredients for salads were tossed together in a big bowl with their respective dressing.

Functional Food of the Day - Vitamin K! [PDF of health benefits of Vitamin K]

Thursday - Campfire Nachos

Meat - Ground Beef
Veggies - Tomatoes, Chives, Canned Beans, Canned Corn, Leftover Peppers and Onions from yesterday
Veggies for Dipping - Baby Carrots and Celery Sticks
Veggie Dip - Plain Greek Yogurt mixed with fresh garden herbs (dill, chives, basil) and a splash of cider vinegar
Nachos - variety of whole-wheat, whole-grain, and other nutritious Tortilla Chips
Extras - Cheese, Sour Cream, Salsa, taco seasoning, Extra-Large Aluminum Foil Trays
Dessert - Pineapple and Strawberries with Yogurt Dip
Yogurt Dip - Plain greek yogurt mixed with Honey and Cinnamon to taste. Also, simple Strawberry Yogurt.

Prep Work - Ground beef was cooked with taco seasoning, refrigerated and transported to site in a cooler.

On site - Grandparents and grandkids rinsed and drained the beans, chopped tomatoes and chives. In the large foil trays, a mix of tortilla chips were mixed then topped with pre-cooked ground beef, veggies, and cheese. The trays were cooked on a grill for 5-10min, until cheese was melted and meat was warm. Topped with dollops of sour cream and served family style.

Functional Food of the Day - Probiotics! [PDF of health benefits of probiotics]

Friday - Fish in Foil

Meat - Salmon, Tilapia
Veggies - Onion, Zucchini, Peppers, Chives, Potatoes
Extras - Brown Sugar, Soya Sauce, Garlic Powder, Garam Masala Spice Mix, Lemons, Olive Oil
Dessert - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep Work - Salmon was portioned, wrapped in plastic wrap, and frozen. Tilapia filets were frozen individually. All veggies were chopped ahead of time.

On site - Frozen fish was allowed to thaw on a plastic-covered picnic bench, carefully monitoring temperature. For a sweet sauce, we combined brown sugar, soya sauce and garlic powder to create a paste which was drizzled on the fish (best on tilapia). Garam Masala spice mix was suggested to be sprinkled on the salmon. Grandparents and grandchildren created their own meals together by combining all ingredients in foil envelopes. Packages were cooked on grill until fish was cooked (it flakes apart with a fork when finished), about 25min.

Functional Food of the Day - Omega-3 Fatty Acids! (PDF on health benefits of Omega-3]

Food Resources

Food is just as important (or perhaps even more important) than an active lifestyle, to promoting good health. Here we have compiled a few documents to provide some meal ideas that appeal to grandparents and grandchildren alike. A lot of these are fun to prepare together. We have have created this collection keeping three values in mind: Affordable. Nutritious. Easy.

Cookbook of Affordable, Nutritious and Easy meals [PDF document, 2MB], by Alanna Roy for Gateway.

Here are a few more books of meal ideas. All created with similar goals in mind:

North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit has put together some fantastic resources for nutritious meals with budget and time in mind:

Quick and Easy Breakfast & Lunch [PDF document, 0.5MB]
Quick and Easy Supper [PDF document, 1MB]
Budget Friendly Family Meals [PDF document, 1.2MB]

Technology and Nutrition

Below, you will find links to a few smartphone apps that are incredibly helpful in everyday nutrition.

I highly recommend MyFitnessPal (free app) for better understanding your everyday nutrition.
Available on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.

For customizable meal planning, I really like Yummly, a web service that allows you to explore a lot of food options based on your nutritional goals. Also available on iPhone, Android and Windows Phone



Water Does Wonders!

The importance of clean drinking water for optimal health cannot be understated. It is an essential part of life! In recent decades, the water in our diets has been replaced by sugar-sweetened beverages, which has been linked to a variety of poor health outcomes. There are many resources for helping children (and adults alike) reduce their consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, but we really like this information booklet [PDF] and this poster (below) from Sip Smart Ontario.