What's the Chick-fil-A summer day camp? What parents need to know

For $35 kids get a meal, T-shirt, play Chick-fil-A themed games and win prizes.

June 12, 2024, 2:34 PM

Fast food chains have long drummed up ways to entice young eaters, from indoor playgrounds with oversized ball pits to kid-friendly food options. But when one Chick-fil-A location recently announced a summertime activity for kids that's had previous success at other locations, some people were up in arms on social media.

Like many franchise fast food chains, Chick-fil-A restaurants are locally owned and operated and can implement their own initiatives to engage in their communities.

Over the last six years, one owner in Houston has seen overwhelming interest from local parents in its summer day camp for kids ages 5 to 12, complete with Chick-fil-A-themed games and, of course, chicken.

A representative for the company explained to ABC News that this is not a corporate program and assured the restaurant staff are still the ones making any food and the children are not doing any work of a hired team member.

Now, a Chick-fil-A owner in West Hammond, Louisiana, has followed in the Houston location's footsteps, offering six sessions to its local community as a way for kids to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the small business is operated and how its food is made.

For $35 to reserve a spot in a group of 30 kids per session, the enrolled participant goes to the restaurant for three hours, in which they get a VIP lunch kid's meal, a specialty T-shirt, and other goodies, meet the owner, meet the Chick-fil-A cow mascot and play games like Bingo.

This year, the Houston location sold out its 200 spots within seven minutes, a Chick-fil-A representative confirmed. As of the time of publication, the Chick-fil-A West Hammond Summer Camp Google form for sign-ups is no longer accepting responses.

A Chick-fil-A inside the Burlington Mall, July 26, 2012, Burlington, Mass.
Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Still, people online were swift to chime in on the West Hammond location's Facebook post with hundreds echoing sentiments that this could be considered child labor.

"You're wanting parents to *check notes* pay you, to use their young children as laborers. But they get a free meal, snack and shirt that will give you free advertising?," one comment said.

Others have defended the fast food chicken restaurant, writing "children love learning [and] experiencing new things," and another explained that there's a "Big difference in learning how someone does their job vs. actually having them do it."

"I’ll go against the grain here. Kudos to you, Chick-fil-A Hammond. It’s nice to see an offer to teach young children about work ethic and responsibility while having a little fun at the same time," another supporter of the concept stated.

"$35 for them to watch my kid for 3 hours AND feed them," another person said.

As of the time of publication, the social post has garnered over 1.5K comments and 1.3K shares.

The seasonal activation which started in Houston, according to the representative, has caught on slowly with less than a dozen other locations offering the camp out of the more than 3,000 total U.S. locations.

Like the Houston-based owner who has advised other locations about what it entails, Chick-fil-A said owners are willing to share what works and why with other local operators.

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