By Craig Marx, Editor
With 115 kids registered this season, the Boys and Girls Club of Langlade County kicked off its seventh-annual summer camp this past Monday, June 6, providing hands-on experiments, entertainment, and field trips to its members for the next two and a half months.
The summer camp is held at the Club from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the camp’s last day wrapping up on Friday, August 19. Meals are also served as part of the experience, with breakfast held from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to noon, and a snack served at 3 p.m.
The meal program is open to anyone in the community 18 years old or younger, regardless of summer camp participation and fees. Food service will be aided by a newly-remodeled kitchen, just one of the many improvements made in the two-week period that the Club was recently closed.
“It’s been exciting,” the Club’s teen services coordinator, David Harris, said of the revamp. “We got new pool tables and new air hockey tables. We had the chance to repaint some rooms, as well as remodeling our kitchen.”
New and seasonal staff took advantage of the interim closure to not only get acquainted with the Club but also plan out the summer’s necessary plans and logistics.
“It’s been nice having these couple of weeks to get use to it,” summer staff member Maggie McCann commented. “I only work here in the summer, so it was nice to be able to come in and get comfortable with the staff. I think a lot of the first week is adjusting to getting these kids into a routine.”
The summer camp breaks up its members into age-specific groups that learn, play, and experience what the Club has to offer with their peers. Groups include first and second graders, third and fourth grades, and lastly fifth through seventh graders paired together. Opportunities are available at the beginning and end of each day to mingle with different age groups through club-wide programs.
“I work with the older kids but we are using the same Smart Program across the board,” Migdalia Simpson said. “They teach the younger kids how to brush their teeth, whereas myself, with the older kids, I teach them the harmful effects of drinking too many energy drinks, the effects of drugs and alcohol, and building a better self-esteem.”
Field trips are a big part of the summer camps, held every Tuesday and Thursday. The staff tries to vary the bi-weekly trips between local visits and more extended excursions, with the latter including a tour of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame and Lambeau Field for the eldest group of summer members. Other opportunities include trips to White Lake, Jack Lake, Antigo’s Water Carnival at Peaceful Valley, the Children’s Museum, and Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay.
The members will also exercise their brains in abstract ways that they may not have been able to utilize in school, all the while learning something at the same time – including blowing up a watermelon and constructing Alka Seltzer rockets.
“All of the groups are doing STEM, which is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, where we have the kids do different experiments throughout the year. We try to get these kids to think outside of the box and get them to problem solve. It’s fun for them because they are learning things without actually knowing that they are,” art instructor April Kolpak noted.
The summer camp provides great resources and opportunities to make this enjoyable season that much better for these children. We’ll check back in with the Club’s summer camp next month and see where they’re at.