Jump Start Camps Help Kids Learn Over the Summer
Two fourth-grade boys crawled under a table to finish the rough draft of a skit they’ll perform later this week as Jump Start Literacy Camp comes to an end.
“Are you in your habitat?” Deb Hayward asked. “Is that a cave?”
Across the room a girl worked on a poster about tigers, and two girls wrote a skit on deer and elk. Animals was the theme of this year’s Jump Start math and literacy camps, held at Lutheran Church of Hope.
With the first day of school just weeks away, Broomfield elementary school students eased into a classroom setting while enjoying the last bit of summer vacation. This year, 31 children were signed up for the literacy camp, which overlapped this week with the math camp, which drew several students, too.
The camps, which are funded by the Broomfield Rotary, are free to the public.
Classes kick off with story time from the Broomfield Spellbinders, a group of volunteers who share stories with school children and seniors in adult care facilities. Children then are split into classrooms where volunteers, typically teachers or retired teachers, they read aloud, discuss what they’ve read, learn vocabulary words and work on projects.
It is the first year Hayward has volunteered with the literacy camp, which along with the math camp is in its 12th year.
Hayward, a retired seventh grade English teacher who was with Boulder Valley School District for 27 years, said the fourth grade students she taught went over how to use a dictionary and thesaurus, practiced journaling and wrote poetry.
Summer is a needed-break and a chance for families to travel, she said, but students also inevitably forget things they learned during the school year.
“To get back into the structure of school is hard,” she said. “This is a semi-structure.”
Michelle Martineau, who runs the literacy camp, picks each year’s theme after a stroll through Barnes & Noble for inspiration — from the Olympics to famous historical figures.
Kelly Reddick-Fisher’s son Samuel has attended the Jump Start camps for years. He aged out of the math portion this year, but still looked forward to the literacy camp. His father, a computer scientist, has helped him develop a love of math.
“Math camp is fantastic,” Reddick-Fisher said. “He really likes it and math was his favorite. They made sure it stayed fun.”
Samuel, who goes to Kohl Elementary School, played math games to keep lessons engaging. Teachers even turned the pizza the class ate into a lesson by turning into a lesson on fractions.
More than just acting as a refresher, the math camp helped her son in school because he learned different angles by which to see math problems, and still reach the same conclusions.
Reddick-Fisher said she prefers when the camps don’t overlap so that he can attend both. The literacy camp helped instill a willingness to pick up more books, specifically the Harry Potter and Captain Underpants series.
“He reads a lot more than he used to,” she said. “I think the camps have made that more fun to where kids want to do it, as opposed to ‘have to.’”
She thinks the camp offers a great review at the beginning, but then introduces students to concepts they will cover in the upcoming school year without overwhelming them.
Students still have the morning story time, snack time and a recess. At the end of math camp the students walk away with bag holding a calculator, ruler, book mark and candy, she said, and sometimes a compass.
Boulder Valley School District has their Lifelong Learning courses, but some of them get pricey, Reddick-Fisher said. Her family sends Samuel to a another camp — usually basketball — during the summer, so the free camps are appealing and not easily found.
This year, math camp wrapped up July 26. Literacy camp came to a close Thursday when parents were invited to see the presentations their children have been working on.
Math camp invites students going into second, third and fourth grades; literacy camp welcomes those going into third, fourth and fifth grade.
Four teachers and nine volunteers, including two student volunteers, help run the literacy camp.
Jennifer Rios: 303-473-1361, firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter.com/Jennifer_Rios