Thursday, June 28, 2012

JLSA Reading Camp:

Letters Home from Camp

It's SUMMERTIME. And this week, 3 of my 4 kids are off at various camps. My older daughter, Eleanor, is 8 years old and has been at a sleep-away camp on a lake in the Texas Hill Country and won't return until after the 4th of July. My 6-year-old youngest child, Sadie, is at a day camp all week in New Braunfels. And one of my teenage twin stepsons, Eric, is spending his mornings at football camp. This is Eleanor's first time to be away from home for any extended period of time, and her letters home, although limited in number, are chock full of entertainment. She sent a note home recently to Sadie that said:

Hi Sadie. I miss u and it's hard to believe that. Guess what! A lot of bugs are getting in my cabin. I hope I hear from u soon.
- Eleanor

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh...

My mother kept all of the letters that I sent home from camp--the same camp that Eleanor is now going to. I had no idea she saved them. She recently gave me a big blue file folder full of them. I read them a few days ago and was astounded by my younger self--what she thought about, what she loved, what she worried about. I plan to keep all of my kids' letters home from camp for them to read and ponder when they are grown and gone.

The camps my kids are going to this summer are just a handful of a multitude of camps offered to kids all over Texas to break up the monotony of a long, hot summer and to provide unique opportunities to learn and grow. For the past several years, our very own JLSA members have been providing San Antonio kids with a first-rate summer camp experience, focused on helping them with their reading skills. For two weeks this June, approximately 25 students at SAISD's Hawthorne Elementary School were led by 10 enthusiastic JLSA Volunteers, many of them professional educators, working on reading skills and doing fun activities designed to instill a love of reading. What's the Reading Camp experience all about? Julie Moczygemba, this year's dynamic Reading Camp Chair, told me. Based on our conversation, I imagine a reading camper's letter home might look something like this:

Dear Mom & Dad,

On my first day of reading camp, I told my counselors that I thought it was going to be lame. They were all wearing matching JLSA t-shirts. How lame is that? But it wasn't very long before I realized that this camp was not lame at all! We learned a lot about the different habitats that animals live in. From the Arctic tundra, to the African Savanna, to under the sea, and many places in between, every day we learned about a new, different habitat and the animals that live there. My friends and I especially loved the daily science lab. The coolest one (for real--it was COLD!) was where we got to put on latex gloves. We put one hand in Crisco, and then we put both of our hands in two ice water cans. It was amazing how the hand with the Crisco on it didn't get as cold as the hand without Crisco on it. That's how polar bears are able to stay in such cold parts of our world--they have an extra layer of fat to protect them. Every day, our counselors served us a yummy lunch catered by The Bright Shawl. And we got to do lots of different learning stations like reading, writing, and art. We made bird houses one day, and we get to take them home. I can't wait to see what kinds of birds might come to my bird feeder. On my last day of camp, I got a cool t-shirt and a bag with books in it to keep so I can practice my reading the rest of the summer.

Your Happy Camper,
Ima Reeder

The Arctic Tundra Science Lab was so "COOL"!

Way to go, JLSA Reading Camp volunteers, and way to go Julie Moczygemba! It sounds like another fantastic community partnership has come to a successful close for the year--and our year is just getting started! You'll be hearing more about Reading Camp wrap-up in the upcoming edition of Scrawls.

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