Teaching kids good table manners is difficult enough. Teaching them to cut or serve food one-handed is another matter entirely.

That's what Connie Ten Eyck, assistant director of the rehabilitation department at Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) in Arlington, will be trying to do this summer at "Club Med," a free, week-long summer camp that gives kids a feeling for what goes on in hospital departments.

For example, the campers will experience the challenges of food preparation and eating faced by stroke patients who are left paralyzed or with limited movement on one side. In the rehab department's mock kitchen, kids will try -- just as these patients do -- to cut imitation food called thera-putty with a half-moon-shaped "rocker knife" that rolls over and slices food.

Each camp session is open to 10 students who will be entering grades seven and eight in the fall; Arlington residents are given preference.

Ten Eyck, an occupational therapist for 13 years, said she hopes to help warm kids to health care professions. "It's new and exciting every day," she said of her job. "You get to use problem-solving skills, because every person is unique and has a different set of problems."

Susan Theodoropoulos, director of education and research at the hospital, said the camp is an effort to counteract the shortage of workers in health care professions.

The first session of the camp takes place July 12-16. The second runs July 26-30. Each camp day lasts from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and includes breakfast and lunch.

For an application or to learn more, call 703-558-6858 or 703-558-5964. Applications will be accepted until 4 p.m. on June 30. Two recommendations and a signed parent release form are also required.

-- Samantha Ganey

Adaptive equipment used in the mock kitchen at Virginia Hospital Center includes, from left, an adapted veggie scrub, a knob turner and a fork with an enlarged handle.