One of the many downsides to the coronavirus pandemic has been the number of people who have lost jobs either through layoffs, furloughs or in some cases permanent closings.

It has impacted all segments of the population but has been especially hard on those who only recently entered the work force with so many positions eliminated, often based on seniority.  More adult children are living home with their parents than ever before and it’s not out of choice but rather necessity.

What this has also resulted in is many having to reinvent themselves and at least for the time being choose a different path when it comes to their career plans.  Take for example Ashleigh Burns, a 28-year old New Jersey native who has spent most of the last twenty years as a summer resident of Lavallette.

After graduating Penn State University with a degree in hospitality she then went on to complete the culinary program at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.  That training helped her land a job in the event industry where she spent the past six years.

Until the pandemic hit in the spring.

In an industry decimated by COVID-19 and an unimaginable amount of uncertainty, Ashleigh has found a way to flourish.  Combining her love of cooking, planning and creative arts she has created “Cooking & Crafts” which addresses the need for children to have other options besides the beach to fill their days.

Tie dying at Cooking & Crafts summer program
Tie dying at Cooking & Crafts summer program (Ashleigh Burns)

With most summer camps cancelled and parents seeking programs to get their kids away from the TV and video games console “Cooking & Crafts” will offer four weekly sessions in August beginning with the week of August 3.  It will take place in the backyard of her family home in Lavallette (there will be patio coverage on days of bad weather).

The program is open to children ages 6-9 and will run Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-noon with a maximum of 10 campers per week.  They will engage in activities like tie dying their own chef apron, learning how to read recipes and measure properly by making their own pizza. Also how to take care of plants, making pasta and upcycling cans or food tins into planter pots.

All designed to allow kids to express themselves in a fun environment while giving moms (and dads) a few hours to themselves in the morning.

Ashleigh Burns is like many who took a step back and then decided to move forward.  If you are interested in her Cooking & Crafts Camp you can call 201-310-3586 or email her at

Upcycling cans at Cooking & Crafts summer program
Upcycling cans at Cooking & Crafts summer program (Ashleigh Burns)

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