The picture-perfect weather June 25 at South Central Park in North Ridgeville was fitting for the theme of last week’s Summer Adventure Camp. Artful Antics was the topic of the week for the group of nearly 30 first- through sixth-graders enrolled in the third week of the city’s annual multi-week camp.
Through different activities, including bubble-paintings and reading from an art book during snack time, camp director Holly Hilty and her staff of counselors helped teach campers about important artists and pieces of art.
Campers had the option to take part in Crazy Hat Day June 25 and the week culminated Friday with a trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland.
Other themes this summer include To Infinity and Beyond, Wacky and Wonderful Science, Animal Planet, Fun and Fitness, Going Green, Heroes Week and Sports Extravaganza.
“I’m not a science person at all, but I’m really pleased with how last week (Wacky and Wonderful Science) turned out,” Hilty said. “The kids were very good with all the experiments we did and everyone had their best listening ears on. I love art week all the time, though.”
After spending the past two years as a counselor with the camp, Hilty is in her first year as director. In her first three weeks, she said finding the balance between making activities both entertaining and rewarding is harder than it may seem.
“Because (the campers) only want the play and not the lesson behind it all the time, we kind of try to sneak it in,” Hilty said. “One of the things that we’ve been doing this year that we haven’t done in the past is we do a lesson with the snack. That helps because they’re all sitting and they’re eating, so they have no choice but to listen.”
Hilty said another step the camp has taken to improve retention and learning is breaking the campers up into smaller groups. She said this allows the campers to focus on the counselor rather than their friends.
Campers and counselors began their day June 25 at the park’s playground, where campers chased each other around obstacles, swung on swings and played a collection of games. Some even conducted faux “job interviews” on the top level of one of the playhouses.
After that, they all returned to the pavilion to play “Pulse,” a game based around tapping the table and continuing the action around the table. Intense discussions took place among campers and counselors about how many times campers could double tap the table and reverse the direction of the tapping.
The first small groups the campers broke into sent them to either bubble painting, snack time or a game called “Character Bus.” Each group took part in each activity once.
One advantage that this year’s campers have over last year’s group is access to the park’s splash pad. Last year, the attraction was out of order. For those who chose not to take part in the splash pad, Twister, Apples to Apples, other card games and coloring books were available.
Hilty added that while it takes a lot of effort to put a camp together and can be stressful at times, hearing the reaction from parents and campers makes it all worth it.
“I’ve heard a lot from parents … that a lot of kids come here and they’re not too sure who they’re going to make friends with and if they’re going to be able to participate in everything,” she said. “(And then) we hear from parents that their kids never want to leave after the second day. That’s kind of the goal I’ve set for the summer. Those kids that are inside their shell when they get here, they’ll open up and start playing.”
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