Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Morning Praise

Every day at Summer Camp is unique. With three different age groups heading off to different trips and participating in different activities it's hard to lock down a specific schedule that works for each day. However one thing we always do is morning praise.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Slave Quarters

July 30, 2012

Today the campers got to go to the slave quarters located in Medford, Massachusetts which was built in the early 1700s. Although, we had no idea the details of how to get there, but with even the smallest of directions, we could figure it out moment by moment. Not one child, ever knew I had not been there either.

From the moment we arrived the campers were very intrigued by the things our tour guide was saying. They had a whole lot of questions and many of their questions got answered. First we went into the house on the owners of the slaves in which they were wealthy for their trading of sugar in which at the time, was a lavish business to get into. Issac Royall inherited millions by the time he was at the age of 18 and the ownership of slaves made living in luxury much easier. They were one of the richest families at the time. We learned that one could show how rich they were not only by how many slaves they owned, but the house they kept as well. There were a few additions to the house made to increase the size.

Friday, July 27, 2012

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

I can't pretend it wasn't a disappointing start to the day. It was grey and dreary outside with the threat of rain. To add to that, Groups 2 and 3 were not able to go to the State House today like they had planned due to a scheduling mix up. Even on the disciplinary side of the day it was a tough start. By ten o'clock two of my seven campers were in time-out for disrespecting their fellow campers. It seemed like it was going to be one of those long, drawn out days where everyone ends up on the wall at least once and we are more than happy to leave once three o'clock rolls around. But it was not one of those days.

For Group 1 the turn around in the day came when we finished rehearsing our play (there's a talent show coming up on the last day of camp, August 3) and went into the hall. There we found some card games that Lloyd thoughtfully left out for our use. We had indoor free time, with some campers coloring, some learning to play Go Fish, and others playing a somewhat rowdy game of Wonderball.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Natural Historians

Today the entire camp went the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It was a cool trip for me because I had never been to the museum before. We split into small groups to tour the museum. One of the great things about the museum is that almost everything is displayed in a class case, so there it is almost impossible for excited children to ruin special exhibits by touching them.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Simple Day for Those of Us Back at Camp

Today Group 2 went to tour the Taza Chocolate factory today...unfortunately we couldn't all go (I was sorely disappointed that I couldn't position myself as a chaperone for the trip). So those of us left behind at the parish center decided to have a fun outdoor morning at our favorite local playground (behind the police headquarters). We had a race around the playground and spent some time playing tag. After lunch we chilled out in the church and watched The Smurfs movie.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Group 4

Anyone familiar with the Sr. Mary Hart Children's Summer Program in the past few years knows that there are 3 groups of campers. However, there when one considers the entirety of the camp, one realizes there is a fourth group, also known as the counselors. There are 7 of us ranging in ages from 15-22. And we truly are a group of our own. We challenge the campers to games of 4-square, basketball, and keepaway. We are a strong team that does its best to keep the children in line. That being said, I'm sure we get on Mrs. Grayson's nerves at times. This "Group 4" dynamic is one of the strengths of the summer camp. At camp, it's not only about making sure the campers have a good summer and use their minds, but also about training leaders among the staff. This is a reminder of Sr. Mary's dedication to all 18 years of childhood, not just the elementary school years. She recognized that teenagers have different needs for their development, and by providing many teens with their first summer job, she helped meet that need for a chance for responsibility. In Group 4 we are charged with responsibility, but we are still allowed to embarce the child within us, still able to spend the summer having fun at a great summer camp.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Museum of Science

July 23, 2012

Today the children in group 3 and a select few of group 2 took a trip to the Science Museum. Each year, you never know which of them will be far more interested in the exhibit as opposed to the others. However, today many of them were very intrigued with the exhibits we did get to see. We started off first at the new Mummy exhibit, which allowed many of them to try and understand the time frame of the Egyptians and most importantly their spiritual beliefs. Many of them needed clarification on what it meant as the afterlife. Explaining to them, that Egyptians believed that after death, one's soul would live on and whether or not they lived well was their significance in body on earth. After allowing them time to all take a picture on the camel, provided in the exhibit, we ventured on to the mathematics section in the red wing. This by far made them understand probability, illusion, inventors and creators of all that we know today, based on the forefathers who paved such a road for us to embark on. We continued onward to the space equipment, which also allowed them to go into an interactive space shuttle and lay and see just how astronauts live while in space.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Science in Action: Yogurt Making

I have been asking the kids to save their milk cartons for the past week. The reason-we were going to make yogurt. Yesterday was the day to put together the recipe. While Kearya heated up milk to 200 degrees on the stove, I explained the science of yogurt making to the campers. Most were disgusted to learn that yogurt is made by adding bacteria to milk, though, they soon learned that some bacteria (like the bacteria in yogurt) is good for human health. The campers walked through the kitchen to watch as the milk was heated, and then cooled. Each camper prepared a carton of the milk with a bacteria culture to make the yogurt. Then the cartons were carefully sealed with duct tape and placed inside the fridge to keep cold. It takes 8 hours for the milk to become yogurt, so sometime today the campers will be enjoying a  delicious and nutritious, home made snack, and they'll be able to explain how it was made and why it is good to eat.


The Heat Breaks!

It was excruciatingly hot and muggy yesterday morning. There was no breeze to move the uncomfortable mass of air pressing on us like a blanket. It was so hot that even the campers were avoiding the sunlight and moving less than usual. So we changed into bathing suits and walked to the playground behind the police station, where we went to cool off last week. The counselors armed themselves with iced coffees from the Ruggles Station Dunkin Donuts, and we found ourselves having a ton of fun as some campers ran through the sprinkler and others played on the playground. After a little while a basketball game of sorts broke out on the court behind the playground. One five year old camper impressed us all as he made numerous shots on a regulation height basketball hoop. We spent the entire morning there. The counselors and kids were all playing together, and it was so much fun that we almost forgot to go back to camp in time for lunch.

After lunch was when Mother Nature decided to be kind and dropped the temperature by 10 degrees. Wind began to blow, and by the time it was time to go rain was pouring down. Running through the rain may not be the most dignified way to travel, but it sure felt nice after dragging through the heat for so many days.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Canobie Lake

The trip to Canobie Lake Park in Salem, NH is probably the biggest highlight of the summer for the campers. The trip is funded by the Knights of Colombus, who sponsor a number of camp groups to go enjoy the theme park. For those of you unfamiliar with how the trip works, we take a chartered bus from the parish center to Canobie Lake. There we take a picture with the Knights, and then they give us our tickets. Once inside the park, each camper and staffer is given a budget of $10 to spend on whatever they want (souvenirs, food, soda, toys, etc.). The counselors for Group 1 hold the money for their young charges (we don't want them to put their money down when they get on a ride and forget to pick it up). The campers are divided into small groups and taken around the park by an individual counselor, usually there are 4 or 5 campers to 1 counselor. That's when the fun happens.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Zoo Day

Today was free admissions day at the Franklin Park Zoo. So we changed all the campers into our new Sr. Mary Hart Children's Program T-shirts and caught the number 45 bus from Ruggles to the Zoo. A bus ride is always a big event with 30 children. There's the trouble of getting them all seats, keeping the noise volume to a bearable level for the other passengers and dealing with any disputes that may arise between campers during the ride. But the great thing about public transportation is the potential for interaction with interesting and enjoyable people. Here's one of our campers who spent much of the bus ride chatting with the lady in the hat. Perhaps there is a lesson here for us adults when we see a child so easily and willingly interacting with our fellow bus passengers.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Swan Boats, Frog Pond, and Campers in the City

One of the benefits of being an urban day camp is the easy access we have to places like the Boston Common and the Public Garden. We picked up the number 43 bus at ten in the morning and didn't come back to camp until two in the afternoon. We took a ride on the swan boats, which was a popular attraction for summer camp groups. We had to wait almost fifteen minutes as many other groups  boarded the boats before us. It was the first time I have seen all the boats in use at one time. It was a nice ride around the little pond, and the campers in my group especially enjoyed watching and attempting to speak to the ducks that swam around us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beating the Heat

It was a hot day in Boston. We took the campers out on a long walk before it got too hot to bring them around the neighborhood. There may have been one or two complaints of sore feet as we walked past the Reggie Lewis center, but all complaints were forgotten when we returned to camp. There Mrs. Grayson was waiting with nice cold ice cream for all the campers and staff. We sat in the shade of the tree and enjoyed the ice cream, waiting for the story teller to come.

At 11:15 the story teller from Read Boston came to spend a half an hour telling the children stories. This is always a good experience, and the story tellers are very energetic and devoted to their performance. The campers, especially the youngest ones, love it. To end the story teller's visit, each child gets a free book to take home courtesy of the Storymobile. The campers thanked the story teller and the representative from Read Boston before opening up their new books.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Camper Perspective: Group 2 is Great

One of our hopes for this blog is that it not only reflect the perspective of the staff, but also of the children. We seek to showcase their work and improve their self esteem as they see their best efforts published on this blog. In the interest of showing their work as honestly as possible, only minimal edits have been made to the child's work.


Journal Entries
Summer camp is fun because you can play. Then, we sing song and play again. I'm in group two. In group 2 you are first to do fun things and group 1 is too. But not group 3, they have to work hard. You get 30 minutes to play. Snack is the best because it's yummy. Then, we go to computers. Then if you are not home you play again.

Today we play 2 fun game. I just play the game that was called snail. 2, 3, or 4, people can play. Also jacks. There were some games that were also fun. There are 2 ladies that show me the games. It was the best!

Camp T-Shirts

Thanks to our friends over at Super Flash Tees in West Roxbury, we have these camp t-shirts for the children. As an experienced camp counselor, I can tell you firsthand how valuable these t-shirts will be on field trips - it's much easier to see all your campers in a crowd when they are matching.


Historic New England

Happy belated Independence Day! Boston is known as the cradle of liberty in this country. It was the site of many a protest and home to some of the founding fathers. The Revolutionary War started in Lexington, only a few miles away. Historic New England is an organization that seeks to preserve historical landmarks and artifacts in the region and educate the public about the lives of New Englanders from generations past. Each year they come to the summer camp and spend an hour with the campers. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer Learning Gain: Group 1's Quiet Morning of Learning

Summer learning loss is the loss in academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer vacation. It affects all students, but it affects students of low socioeconomic status the most. According to a study on summer learning loss, "Two-thirds of the academic achievement gap in reading and language found among high school students has been explained through the learning loss that occurs during the summer months of the primary school years." This is a serious phenomenon in the American school system, but it can be combated. By engaging children in educational activities, such as reading, writing, science and math projects, summer learning loss is made less severe. Our summer camp is not just about fun in the sun, but making sure that our children return to school in September without having forgotten too much over the summer. Our goal is to combat summer learning loss, and promote summer learning gain.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Basketball Hoop

It was a sad day last summer when a bulldozer came and knocked down the basketball hoop that stood in the St. Katharine Drexel parish center parking lot. That hoop had seen many games and was a prominent part of the property. The hoop was knocked down to make room for a parking lot for Boston Police Officers, which is a worthy cause indeed, but it's absence still left a void in outdoor playtime at the camp. The police were kind enough to donate a basketball hoop to the Sr. Mary Hart Children's Programs and today (after 3 hours) Lloyd and I put it together.  The hoop, which created a great deal of interest as we were putting it together, was a hit as soon as the campers came outside in the afternoon.


Reading Time..

Reading time, is one of my favorite times of the day. Either the kids or I would pick a book for me to read. Just today we read, Don't Let the Pigeon drive the bus by Mo Willems, which the kids really enjoyed. A new thing we're trying this year, Once or twice a week, group three which is the older kids will read a book to the younger kids in group one. Then the younger kids will read a book to the older kids. Today was our first day trying it, it was very successful. We had a kid from group three pair up with a kid from group one and read a book of there choice. The older kids were great role models for the younger kids and the younger kids were very respectful to the older kids when they were reading. afterward the kids from each group would discuss what happened in the book and what they liked and disliked about it.


Go to srmaryschildren.tumblr.com to see pictures of the young and old children reading together (as well as lots of other photos of camp activites). We will be posting plenty of camp photos there.

Monday, July 2, 2012

First Day of Camp

As the bell from the church down the street tolled out 9 o'clock, the staffers lined up the children for the first morning praise of the summer. The day opened with a prayer, asking God to keep the children safe, to encourage respect, to let us have fun and listen well to our counselors. After the prayer the children learned some of the songs they will be singing each morning (hopefully video of the singing will be up in the future). The next few hours were filled with name games and explanations of the rules and introductions to daily activities such as computer time, reading, and journaling. All of these things, and more, will be published on this blog so that you can see Sr. Mary Hart's legacy in action as the campers explore, have fun, and learn.

It was a fun-filled day (even if there were a few time-outs handed down) that set a good tone for the next five weeks of summer.