‘God bless ‘em’: Mike Rowe praises Chick-fil-A kids summer camp teaching soft skills

Chick-fil-A restaurant with an American flag in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Chick-fil-A restaurant with an American flag in Tulsa, Oklahoma. | Getty Images

Mike Rowe, television host of “Dirty Jobs,” has applauded a Chick-fil-A franchise in Hammond, Louisiana, for its innovative summer camp designed to teach children practical life skills. The camp, to be held next month, has garnered attention for its unique approach to child education through real-world business insights, although it has also sparked controversy among a section of the public that is calling it a “child labor” camp. 

The Chick-fil-A Summer Camp, announced on June 5 and to be held in six sessions from July 15-17 and July 22-24, invites children ages 5 to 12 for a three-hour session each, priced at $35. Each session will include activities like a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant’s operations and time spent with the Chick-fil-A Cow mascot and team leaders, according to Yahoo News. The camp will also provide a kid’s meal, T-shirt, name tag and snack for each attendee.

The camp’s popularity was evident as all initially offered sessions sold out within an hour, prompting the addition of more sessions.

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Despite its popularity, the camp has drawn a mix of praise and criticism on social media. Some parents and commentators have expressed concerns over potential “child labor” implications and the appropriateness of introducing young children to corporate work environments, Yahoo News added.

Rowe defended the camp during an appearance on Fox Business' “Varney & Co.,” praising Chick-fil-A for stepping in to teach practical life skills to children — a gap he believes has been left by the removal of courses like home economics and shop from public schools.

“What did we think was going to happen when we took Home Ec, shop and basic financial literacy out of the public schools? Sooner or later, somebody is going to step up and say, ‘we have to inculcate these ideas into the next generation,’” Rowe said.

“If Chick-fil-A is going to be part of leading that charge, God bless 'em. There’s somebody [that] has to step in to do this. Soft skills, basic common sense, all of that stuff is still for sale and, sadly, lacking,” Rowe added.

Some Facebook users tagged the U.S. Department of Labor in their comments, questioning the legality of the activities proposed for children, such as taking and bagging orders. Chick-fil-A representatives clarified that the camp activities do not include performing actual team member tasks. They stated that employees serving as counselors would focus solely on engaging with the campers through planned activities.

The initiative by Chick-fil-A in Hammond is not the first of its kind within the chain. A similar summer camp has been running for six years at a location in Houston, Texas, featuring activities like bingo and trivia.

Representatives from Chick-fil-A noted that while these camps are quickly selling out, they are not profit-driven but are instead designed to engage with community members and teach children valuable skills. They also pointed out that each restaurant is independently owned and that such programs are developed by owners to connect with their local communities.

Chick-fil-A made headlines earlier this month with the launch of a new summer menu item, the maple pepper bacon sandwich. 

The fast-food chain said the limited edition sandwich was inspired by Americans’ passion for summertime barbecues. The sandwich is comprised of a lemon and herb marinated chicken breast topped with brown sugar and pepper bacon, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, sweet and spicy pickles and a toasted maple-flavored brioche bun.

The maple pepper bacon sandwich will be available for in-restaurant purchase and delivery through Aug. 24. Accompanying the new limited release, Chick-fil-A has brought back a fan favorite for the 15th year with its peach milkshake. 

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