If you doubt your kid's ability to whip up a multi-grain pizza or some Italian cheese puffs, check out the cooking class offered at Ventura College this summer.
Kids 9 to 12 can sign up for a two-hour, five-day cooking class where the young chefs prepare a complete meal each day and then sit down and eat it. The class is offered twice, beginning July 22 and Aug. 2; the class and materials cost $60.
The cooking classes are among a variety of summer activities offered by the community services departments at Ventura, Oxnard and Moorpark colleges, all part of the Ventura County Community College District.
The classes are diverse. Kids can brush up on etiquette, learn dances they've seen in videos, hone sports skills, and pick up music or art instruction. They can improve in reading, spelling and math, learn better study skills and even get pointers on how to score higher on Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SATs). There are even classes designed for children in the schools' gifted and talented education program.
These are classes that generally won't eat up your child's entire summer vacation.
The cooking class, taught by Donna Raupp, runs 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the college's home economics lab, which is set up with four cooking and food preparation areas. The class is limited to 12 children.
"We try to prepare simple things that are good for them," Raupp said. "They are always surprised that they actually like the food."
Raupp introduces them to the nutritional benefits of cooking with whole-wheat flour and encourages them to try ground turkey instead of ground beef.
"They resist it until they taste it," she said. One bite is the rule in Raupp's class when the kids sit down to eat what they've prepared.
Cooking, Raupp said, is an educational process. During the class, the kids must use their reading and math skills. They must work independently and cooperatively. They must abide by safety and sanitation rules. That means no sampling during meal preparation.
The cooks serve up dishes like pasta with sauce and "tuna boats" prepared with tortilla chips for the sails. They make fruit shakes, vegetable dips, potato skins, chocolate chip cookies and even delectable mud pie.
On the last day, the kids choose their own recipes. "They introduced me to pineapple-ham pizza," Raupp said.
Here's a sampling of some of the class offerings for kids at the three colleges:
"All About Me" teaches children 6 to 10 how to recognize their feelings and talk about them. It runs five days for 1 1/2 hours each day.
Veteran instructor Harry Rosemond teaches three classes for teen-agers who want to improve scholastically: goal setting and time management, listening and note-taking and taking tests. The classes run four days, 1 1/2 hours each day.
Children can learn how to paint and decorate clothing in a three-hour workshop offered on two Saturdays.
"White Gloves and Party Manners," for boys and girls 5 to 11, is a one-hour class on five Saturdays that counsels kids on posture, table setting and flattering clothes. (Also offered in Oxnard.)
"Social Savvy: Manners for the Modern Teen," a three-hour workshop one Saturday, focuses on dining, dating and other social situations for young people 12 to 17.
Children can learn the Japanese art of papermaking in two workshops for kids 5 to 11 or 12 and up. The sessions are two or three hours on two days.
Young writers, second through sixth grade, can learn to write children's books in a weeklong session that runs 1 1/2 hours each day. A similar session on four Saturdays coaches those 13 to 16 on creative writing techniques.
* "Speak Out" gives kids 13 to 16 a chance to express their views on social issues in a supervised forum that enhances creative thinking, leadership and self-esteem. It runs four Saturdays for 1 1/2 hours each session.
* A class on government and politics for kids 11 to 17 teaches the foundations of democracy and how it works. It runs three Mondays for one hour.
"Nature Awareness," for children 3 to 6, teaches about the environment through hikes, games, crafts and songs. Offered four Wednesdays for two hours each day.
"Sneaky Snakes" and "Plant Life Magic," "Bug Buddies," and "Birds of Prey," all for children 4 to 7, are each offered in one-day, two-hour sessions.
Guitar, violin and piano classes for all ages and abilities are offered in weekly one-hour sessions.
Children 8 to 14 years can learn the art of Japanese flower arrangement from a veteran Japanese instructor in one-hour weekly sessions.
"Wilderness Survival for Teens" is a five-day trek into the Sierra where teen-agers learn first aid, shelter construction, fire building and how to find food and water.
For information about summer activities for kids at the community colleges, call the community services offices: Moorpark, 378-1408; Oxnard, 986-5822, and Ventura, 654-6459.