Hockey camp? Basketball camp? Soccer camp? Tech camp? How about investing in a camp that is going to inspire lifelong learning?
The creation and implementation of a literacy camp was a long standing goal of the Sheard Literacy Center Director at SUNY Potsdam, Tina Wilson Bush. Working in collaboration with summer course instructor, Cindy Wells, Tina was able to see this dream realized. For the past three years SUNY Potsdam, a university in northern New York, has hosted a highly successful Summer Literacy Camp.
What happens at Literacy Camp? Campers are immersed in literacy activities–from arts, writing, technology, to outdoor games. Graduate students from the Literacy Specialist/Educator Program create developmentally appropriate active learning centers for the approximately 30 campers in grades K-6 to rotate through over the three days of attendance. Enthusiasm is high as students explore literacy through various modalities, tapping into their multiple intelligences.
Some of the “campers” would be considered struggling or striving readers and are encouraged to attend by teachers and parents. Others are there just for the fun of involvement in literacy. The college students follow the New York State Libraries’ Reading theme each summer via collaboration with the Potsdam Public Librarian, Sarah Sachs. They creatively coordinate ideas with the current summer’s theme. Time is also set aside to explore books and other interests during self-selected reading and “choice time.”
It is delightful to see a child lounging on comfy pillows in a blow up pool totally immersed in a book, reading with a mentor/buddy or acting out a book with puppets and props. Campers end the experience with comments such as, “Three days is not long enough!” and “I am coming back next year and I hope camp will be Monday to Friday!” These comments are welcome feedback that help gauge the success of the camp.
We are pleased to be assisted in this endeavor by the college administration, Corning, Inc., and students as well as the parents who support the camp by encouraging their children to attend. This camp offers a unique compliment to the many opportunities that summer brings. The Sheard Literacy Center Summer Camp strives to support lifelong learning through positive experiences for all attendees.
Cindy Wells is an instructor at SUNY Potsdam, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was published in the April/May 2013 issue
of Reading Today. IRA members can read the interactive digital version of the magazine here. Nonmembers: join today!