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Super Summer Camp Offers Fun, Learning
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Evan Murray, 10, left, from Fair Oaks Elementary, moves his chess piece while playing a game with Devon Pastor-Guzman, 9, from Magnolia Elementary, in Chess Club on their first day at Super Summer Camp on June 3. Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

Now in its third year, an eight-week summer program known as Super Summer Camp, kicked off on June 3 with 74 children present – the highest number so far during the first week of camp, said camp co-supervisor Carla Moore. Super Summer Camp is operated by the Oakdale Joint Unified School District at the Magnolia Elementary School campus and ends July 26.

The camp is for current kindergarten through sixth grade students. Super Summer Camp co-supervisor Matt Dillon added that the camp is open to students from Oakdale, Knights Ferry, Valley Home, Riverbank, Escalon, Modesto, and even children from out of the area who are visiting. The point is that they don’t have to be OJUSD students to attend.

“We’re really trying to provide a service to the community,” Dillon said.

He added that they expect to have approximately 70 to 85 students per week. Dillon and Moore are after school program manager and they supervise the camp with the district’s other after school program managers. The camp leaders are also after school program employees. The supervisors begin planning the camp in January, gelling ideas and pulling details together.

“At the end of each camp, we get together and brainstorm,” Dillon explained. “We talk about what worked and what we need to improve on…work on things we can do better.”

They also survey the students about what they like and what they don’t like and then plan the camp accordingly.

Each week of camp has a different theme, a field trip every Wednesday, and trips to the City of Oakdale’s pool and park on Thursdays and Fridays. Some of the activities and themes are the same from past years as they are favorites for the students, and some new themes have also been added.

One of the new themes is a trip is to Murphy’s Big Trees.

“One of the reasons we decided to go that route… last year we went to Moaning Cave, is that a lot of our campers said they’d never been to that part of the state before,” Dillon reported. “We wanted to go back to that area, just a different activity.”

Another new theme is “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” which includes a field trip to an Oakland A’s game versus the New York Yankees.

Dillon said that a returning theme is science week because it’s a hit with the children. The field trip will be to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. He added that it’s a great field trip that’s educational as well.

He noted that they have more signups during certain weeks and said that the kids are really excited for the A’s game and the Tech Museum trips.

“These are big weeks for us,” he said. “We know a lot of our students don’t get that opportunity (for such activities) unless they get it through camp. That’s why a lot of parents do it because their children get to participate in things they’ve never experienced before.”

Yet another new theme is “Abra Cadabra” that will take place during the first week of July and will feature a magician that comes to the school campsite instead of a field trip that week.

Other themes that are staying in the summer program have to do with animals. There are two animal-related field trips, one to the Fresno Zoo and one later in the summer to the Stanislaus County Fair.

Dillon said that for the field trips, they try not to drive more than two hours away. There are four “long” trips and four that are closer to home. He also noted that when the kids are at the campsite they have a lot to do. He said it’s very structured and they’re very busy.

“We don’t want them to be bored. We want them to have fun,” Dillon said. “I think we have a great variety of stuff for them to do.”

There are sports, arts and crafts, computers, chess club, book club, cooking, pottery, and more. The cost and hours of the camp are also staying at the same rate as last year. Camp fees are $100 per week with each additional child costing $85. Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and extended hours for early drop off and late pick up are also available with an additional fee. Fees include a camp T-shirt, two snacks a day, a weekly field trip, enrichment sessions, and swimming.

Campers may attend one week at a time, choose a week here and there, or participate in every week of the camp. To sign up or for more information, call the school district office at (209) 848-4884, ext. 128.