LA PLUME — One may see icky, gooey slime and ask ‘What is that goo?’ Nine-year-old Cidney Schaffer, who has been attending Camp Connections for four years, explained, “The slime is part of our journal writing project.”
When asked more about the program, Kay Lacoe, a camp counselor, revealed the theme is “big as habitats.” What that means is that students have to decide what type of organism their slime is and creatively decide what habitat they would find it in. Apparently, purple is out when it comes to the ocean, but sky blue seems to fit in perfectly in that same ocean scenario.
Schaffer also explained how her organism is “going into a swamp where it can blend in. It can live in the swamp where there are worms, bugs and frogs, but the enemies are the turtles. I’m going to write about it in my journal, part by part. And we can’t take our journals home. We leave them here.”
So far the camp has taken the creative writing from its students and published four books of students’ creative materials.
Schaffer also added she likes gym as well because “it gives you energy and exercises and you make a lot of friends.”
Friends of the Poor is hosting approximately 60 students ages 4-11 at Camp Connections on the Keystone College campus and offers access to all parts of the campus that apply to its teachings. The summer camp program is designed to enhance language skills, address acquisition of self-help skills, build on previous skills to ensure skill maintenance and prepare children for success in school.
Camp Connections is a six-week, theme-based STEAM-infused curriculum that focuses on active, hands-on learning which is age, individual, developmental, cultural and linguistically appropriate. It targets all learning domains, including physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language.
Keely Kettel is a camp director employed by the Friends of the Poor and has been involved in the project for five years. According to Kettel, “Sister Ann Walsh at Friends of the Poor started this program as a one-day program. And it evolved into a developed program where kids can come to Keystone College more often. This resulted in a program that is six weeks and three days a week on campus and two days going out to the communities they live in.”
Another cool part of the students’ projects includes robotics. This is their first year working with robotics and SPEROS. The kids use laptop computers and program robotics to do whatever they want them to do. This year, students created and designed boats and put the SPEROS into the Tunkhannock creek.
“It’s amazing what technology can do for our students and our world,” stated Kettel.
On a different note, Aihana Garcia Steele,9, is trying out the camp for the first time and loves the cooking classes.
“I love that it’s really fun but educational. My favorite thing about cooking is probably the Rice Krispy treats,” she said.
According to Lacoe, the goal is making healthy choices, eating right and being independent. “They get a cookbook at the end of cooking classes,” she said.
Camp Connection began in 2014 and transitioned into a year-round program in 2018. The implementation of year-round programming was created to expand STREAM (science, technology, robotics, engineering and math) infused summer camp to serve children ages 6 to 10 in the Scranton and Lackawanna Trail school districts with seamless after school programming.
The after school program expands academic learning in contextual ways in all content areas through literacy rich involvement, music, robotics and art.
Certified teachers from Camp Connections are retained to implement after school programs and activities and operates two days per week over a 28-week period as well as monthly community and family events.
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