Callie Carpenter’s mom, Susan, started teaching her to bake when she was 6 years old — something she’s thankful for now more than ever after the successful start of her business, the Pacific Northwest Cookie Company. Now she’s hoping to grant kids the same chance she got.
“It’s really important to me, one way we can give back to our community is just introducing kids that maybe wouldn’t have an opportunity to learn,” she said Tuesday morning at the Boys & Girls Club of Chehalis.
Carpenter and her mother were about to teach their second baking class at the club, for an audience of 20-some kids. The day’s lesson: The difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon — a distinction that can greatly affect the edibility of a batch of cookies.
Carpenter said she first expressed interest in teaching the class to a friend who serves on the club’s board a couple months ago. The information was relayed onto Natalia Velazquez, the club’s program director, who said she was absolutely on board with Carpenter teaching the class.
“I was ecstatic,” said Velazquez, who added that she’s always looking for people with different skills or knowledge to come in and impart that onto the kids.
All throughout the summer, the kids at the Boys & Girls club will be going on field trips to different interesting spots to learn a little something about a myriad of topics. Additionally, different folks have been coming in to share a bit of their expertise, too.
Recently, they got to see cows and reptiles up close to learn about their biology, and were shown various rocks to learn the basics of specific branches of science, said Velazquez.
Since every kid learns a little differently, she said they juggle between hands-on and verbal education.
“I try to do as much hands-on stuff as we possibly can,” Velazquez said.
In April, Carpenter taught her first baking class at the club, and she and the kids made snickerdoodle cookies. With Pacific Northwest Cookie Company specializing in gluten-free and vegan ingredients, the kids quickly found out that the dough was edible.
“Once they figured out they could do that, it was kind of hard getting (the cookies) in the oven,” she said with a laugh. The final batches weren’t immediately eaten, but were rather held back to serve as snacks for the young bakers and other kids the next day — much to the chagrin of some of the kids at the club who were hoping to quickly scarf down the fruit of their labor, Velazquez added.
“I think it’s a really good experience to be able to make something yourself and give it to someone else,” said Carpenter.
Tuesday morning’s class got started shortly after 9 a.m. Somewhere between 20 and 25 kids who were entering the third, fourth, fifth and sixth grade were there. They gathered around a table as Carpenter had them measure out the various ingredients in teaspoon or tablespoon quantities. The results were mixed together into dough, and the kids then lined up to take turns scooping the dough out into balls on a baking sheet.
Susan Carpenter said by the end of the class, they would have somewhere in the ballpark of eight to 12 dozen chocolate chip cookies, likely to serve as a snack the next day. It’s a specific challenge, she said, to prepare smaller quantities geared for home ovens, when the crew at Pacific Northwest Cookie Company are used to making 80 to 90 dozen cookies per day in their convection ovens.
Carpenter said she intends to teach the classes at the club monthly. Eventually, she said, she would like to have a facility of some kind, owned by Pacific Northwest Cookie Company, where she can teach free baking classes to kids.
Meanwhile, Velazquez said she’s always on the hunt for people willing to volunteer their talents — either for educational purposes, or just to make the club’s operations move smoothly.
“We’re blessed, and if there’s anyone that might have a skill … we always have some kind of need. Right now, we’re looking for drivers for buses,” she said.
The Boys & Girls Club of Chehalis can be contacted at 360-345-1700 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.