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Time For Adventure - Summer Camp Fun Without The Sleeping Bag
Campers pose around a wagon during a recent field trip at historic Columbia State Park. Campers take field trips each week in accordance with that week’s camp theme. - photo by Photo Contributed
“I’m bored” is an expression that many parents hear from their youngsters as the days of summer start to drag along. There is a cure, however, for the summertime doldrums in Oakdale.
Getting the kids off the couch and involved with structured fun and (gasp) educational activities, as well as some good, old-fashioned playtime is what one program offers.
When the City of Oakdale decided to drop the summer camp program for children from its lineup this year due to budget constraints, the Oakdale Joint Unified School District decided to step in and run the program for the first time.
Knowing that many parents need a place to send their kids to keep them busy for the summer, the school district reworked and refined the summer program. The eight-week Super Summer Camp, which has a different fun theme each week, is hosted at Magnolia Elementary School and is staffed by the district’s after-school program employees.
Three of the four camp supervisors, Matt Dillon, Carla Moore, and Jarom Hofmann, reported that the first week of this year’s camp sported the highest numbers for the first week in the past five years of the program with 64 students. They said 50 students weekly are needed to make the program viable, so the increased enrollment is welcome. They expect the numbers of kindergarten through sixth graders to climb as they get deeper into summer and said that they can handle more students in the program as they have more staff on standby.
Two students who’ve both been to the summer camp before, Devin Murphy, 9, and Jessi Garcia, 8, who are both students at Cloverland Elementary School, noted that the summer program is different this year.
“It’s really fun because we have a lot of things to do besides just activities. We get to go places,” Jessi said. “…The field trips (are new) and this year everyone gets to go to the pool and we have more snacks… There are clubs we get to go to, that’s different from the past.”
Devin said that there are also more crafts that have a higher level of difficulty, which the older kids appreciate, such as making dream catchers during their first week. Each week, the students do crafts and activities, based on age-appropriateness, that are related to the theme.
“I think we have real good leaders because they treat us nice,” he added.
The pair also noted the increased number of students for the early stages of camp and mentioned different sports and play equipment.
Having field trips in the summer program is something new that the school district decided to add when it took over the summer camp and the trips have been quite a hit.
“I’m getting a lot of positive comments from parents,” camp supervisor Moore said about the trips.
She added that parents also appreciate that they can look on the school district website and find out about the upcoming weeks’ offerings of camp field trips and activities.
The first week of Super Summer Camp was based on the theme “California Gold” and the kids took a field trip to Columbia State Park in the middle of the week.
“It was fun…we went on the rocks and hiked, we did gold panning. It was kind of hard (to gold pan) but it was cool because we got some gold,” Jessi said.
Devin apparently had the Midas touch because his mining skills yielded results.
“When we gold panned, I found 13 pieces of gold and I found a gold nugget and everybody gave me a high five. I felt real good,” he reported with enthusiasm. “We’re going to go to the jewelry store to make sure it’s real gold.”
He also said that they had a good time and the outing went by really fast.
Students also sign up for “clubs” in which to participate — book club, chess club, or math fact club. The clubs run on a rotation three times per week where students are grouped together based on their grade level.
For example, in math club, students use the computer lab at the school where they can play various math games based on their grade level. Links through the school district website and other “cool” math game websites are utilized.
The students in chess club learn something about strategy and pick up how to play the game fairly quickly.
“I like it because I almost got all her pieces,” said eight-year-old Jorja Netto recently while beating her opponent Kaylee White, also eight.
“Sometimes it’s hard when people are taking your pieces,” Kaylee said. “…I try to move mine to get (the other person) out.”
They youngsters also play and learn more about organized sports, have open playtime, movie time, swim at “The Plunge,” and can even do gardening. Plus the campers bring home their crafts and a scrapbook of their activities each week.
The second week of camp had an animal theme where the children took a field trip to Micke Grove Zoo and this week, the “Out of This World” theme takes the students on a field trip to the Challenger Learning Center. Next week is an Olympics theme with a trip to the bowling alley.
The cost for the camp per child is $100 per week, with each additional child from the same family at $85. Extended hours are also available for an additional fee and a child can attend camp for only one week or attend every week. Included in the camp fee is a camp T-shirt for the child, two daily snacks, a weekly field trip, pool admission for swimming, and enrichment activities. The students just have to bring their own sack lunch.
For more information or to register your child in Super Summer Camp go to the OJUSD website at or call the school district office at 848-4884, extension 128.