This post was originally published as “Food Truck Summer Camp Inspires Young Chefs-to-Be” in the Texas Harvest 2018 edition of Edible San Antonio magazine.
Eating tacos and watching commercials on a sultry San Antonio summer afternoon in August turned out to be as edifying as it was satisfying. Thanks to The Gathering Place and their Great Food Truck Summer Camp Showcase, we had the opportunity to see first-hand the type of educational experience that The Gathering Place’s founders, Joanna Klekowicz and Ryan York, plan to provide at their future charter school.
With decades of experience between them, developing curriculums and visiting classrooms across the country, Ms. Klekowicz and Mr. York joined forces and put together a model of best practices to create a great environment for learning.
“Our goal is to create a school that kids actually want to go to,” Ms. Klekowicz explained.
Getting a charter school application approved in Texas these days is challenging, but The Gathering Place is ready for the rigorous application process. In that spirit, they offered a free, one-week summer camp with a food truck entrepreneurship theme for 25 kids ages 9 to 12. Compass Rose Academy, a relatively new charter school at Brooks, graciously shared their campus for the week.
“We have a clear vision for The Gathering Place, and the food truck camp was a way to refine our model and learn from the students and the community,” Mr. York said. “Part of the goal was to give the students and parents a chance to have input on how the school will be designed.”
They designed a program to motivate students to work as teams and get excited about learning skills like website building, branding and more. The week-long camp also covered about 30 Texas state education standards, content that schools are required to cover.
On the first day, students met with their mentors—local, working food truck owners from Food Maniacs, Benjie’s Munch Truck, FIG Mobile Eatery, and Naco Mexican Brunch Truck. Armed with tips and insider perspectives, the student teams roared into action.
Brand names and logos were designed for branding and merchandising. The kids even got to screen print their logos on to T-shirts thanks to Printed Apparel, who donated supplies.
Young aspiring chefs experimented with taco recipes and their respective teams settled on menus and worked out budgets and advertising messages. The teams even learned how to plan and film TV commercials for their ventures.
Students created 3D mockups of their food truck designs, and since we are in the digital age, members of each new company learned how to put together a website.
Like a true entrepreneurial boot camp, students developed and practiced elevator pitches and got feedback from the professional mentors. By the end of the week, students were ready and excited to cook and prepare tacos and homemade tortillas for the showcase.
Guests surveyed the tables where each team had set up their signs, taco truck models and, most importantly, baskets of tacos.
Votes went into a colorful ballot box.
Tweetie’s Tacos, the winning team, will get to visit Rackspace headquarters to meet with business leaders and learn more about entrepreneurship. Of course, the young entrepreneurs are visiting Rackspace on food truck day.
There is a kind of learning that happens when you have a goal, but still have to communicate and work with other team members. That joy and intensity creates lasting memories. The students at The Gathering Place’s Great Food Truck Summer Camp experienced that kind of learning.
To learn more about The Gathering Place charter school, visit thegatheringplacek12.org.
- “Highlights From the Public Forum for Single Seed Enrichment School”, Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, November 3, 2017
- “An Introduction to Promesa Academy at the First Information Meeting,” Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, November 9, 2017
- “Meet the Teacher Night at Compass Rose Academy in San Antonio”, Inga Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms, August 21, 2017