A big hit


CAMP Collins sees increase in participation numbers for 2014

By Wes Mayberry

Now in its third week of its third year of existence, Collins Intermediate School’s CAMP Collins summer program has been a big hit among local children, as participation numbers have increased from last year, according to program director Carrie Bradford.

“It’s been going great. We’ve had record attendance numbers,” Bradford said.

CAMP (Creating Active Minds Positively) Collins is a five-day-a-week program that takes place at CIS from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. During this time, students ranging in age from kindergarten through sixth grade are able to participate in fun, educational activities as well as weekly field trips that all focus on a central theme. Bradford said this year’s theme is loosely based on a long-running reality TV show.

“Our theme this year was ‘Survivor,’ which was kind of based around the TV show,” she said. “We’ve brought in activities that would make the children think about how they would live if they didn’t have some of their normal resources.”

With this theme serving as the backdrop, the students were broken into groups based on age, and these groups were each given a name much like the teams on the Survivor TV show, Bradford said.

“Each age group has a tribe name, which is themed based on The Leader in Me,” she said. “We thought about letting the students decide their own tribe names, but the more I got to thinking about it, the more I wanted to subconsciously teach them a leadership role.”

The tribe of kindergarteners was called Zuberi, which means truthful, while the first-grade tribe was called Jabari (courageous), second grade was Raziya (compassionate), third and fourth grade was Nala (successful and truthful) and fifth and sixth grade was Imamu (leaders).

Whether due to this creative theme, the wide variety of activities or the increased awareness, this year’s CAMP Collins has seen a significant increase in participation. Bradford said roughly 100 kids were registered for last year’s program and that about 60 attended each day. This year, more than 160 students in kindergarten through sixth grade from the Scottsboro City School District are registered, and the daily participation number has hovered around 80, Bradford said.

“It’s very rewarding because that tells me that the program has grown and word has gotten out. And word of mouth and parental involvement is key to making a program grow,” she said. “The first year we had this camp, we had about 24 kids, so it has quadrupled in popularity from where it was the first year.”

This year’s program began June 2, and participating students have been able to do a wide variety of activities, including arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt, archery competition, limbo game and much more. Activities have also entailed how to make a shelter as well as identifying different plants, such as poison ivy and poison oak. Each day is broken down into five 35-minute sessions that each have a different focus area, including physical education, technology/reading, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), art/music and outdoor classroom.

Students have also received visits from representatives of various local entities for educational activities. In a partnership with Alabama Soil and Water Conservation, the kids were able to learn about composting, while a visit from the local Girl Scouts allowed the students to learn what to pack in a survival kit. Representatives from Sci-Quest visit each Wednesday for an educational, science-based experiment or activity, and Lee Benson of the Scottsboro Police Department was at CIS on Tuesday to teach a bicycle safety course. Highlands Medical Center marketing coordinator Hannah Esch was also on hand Tuesday morning to help make “Survival Smoothies” for the students. Bradford said Highlands provided the frozen fruit and all the other ingredients needed to make the smoothies, and she wanted to thank all of the local entities that have helped with this year’s CAMP Collins.

But not everything takes place at CIS, as field trips are a major part of CAMP Collins as well.

Thus far, the students have taken field trips to Cathedral Caverns, the Splash Pad at the Rec*Com and the city trash dump, and this Thursday’s trip is to Camp Maranatha, which is always a favorite of the students, Bradford said. On Friday, the students will visit the Maggie Valley Berry Patch where they will learn how fruits and vegetables are grown.

“We’ve tried to think outside the box, and we have not once sat at a desk,” Bradford of the activities for CAMP Collins 2014.

Friday, June 27 will be the final day of the program, and Bradford says the staff has a big finale event planned for that day, weather permitting, as it involves outdoor inflatables.

“We’re going to have a Family Day next Friday, and we’re going to have a family obstacle course,” she said. “I guess you could call it a family tribal challenge.”

As this year’s program nears its end, Bradford said she believes it has been well received.

“I think they’ve loved it,” Bradford said of the participating students. “I think the attendance speaks for itself.”

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