Summer camp experience for kids in apartments

Adams Elementary School Social Worker Amy Carroll is seeking to bring a summer camp experience to students that live at the Pondale Apartments in Coon Rapids with engaging games and fun activities.

The program started June 26 and runs every Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 3 p.m. for five weeks this summer.

This program is put on by Carroll and volunteers from Adams Elementary as well as many volunteers from the school’s faith-based partnership with Riverdale Church in Andover.

Volunteers lead children in games and activities that engage them in learning and fun.

This is the first year a program like this has been offered at Pondale.

Carroll said she decided to start a program for the students there because many of them cannot attend a summer camp for financial reasons or because of transportation.

“A lot of the kids… don’t have a lot of money to go to camps,” Carroll said.

“I just wanted to bring a fun program to them.”

Carroll was able to look into getting scholarships for the children at several summer camps, but found the biggest obstacle was still transportation.

At the beginning of each program, students choose one of four stations with a game or craft to start at and then rotate after half an hour.

Carroll is using activities and lessons from the Anoka-Hennepin Targeted Services, which provides extra support in reading and math to students during and outside of the school year.

“It’s learning but at the same time making it fun,” Carroll said.

Along with games like Pass the Pigs and Sequence Numbers that help students with their math, students have the opportunity to read on their own or with help from a volunteer.

Carroll said students are instructed to keep track of their reading or math minutes and for every hour or two recorded on their logs they will receive prizes.

Other learning activities may include memory games, sequence games and a spelling bee.

With donations from the Coon Rapids Lions Club, Carroll was able to purchase sports equipment, books and prizes for the children.

On the last day of the program, volunteers will be giving away many of these items for the children to take home.

“It’s just giving the kids something to do in an organized manner, showing that we care about them… and that they’re not missing out on some fun activities,” Carroll said.

Adams Elementary Community Education Programmer Diane Genung assisted students in making a specific craft and Riverdale Church children’s pastor Scott Wilcox led children in large group games and activities.

On the first day of the program, the Coon Rapids High School Dance Team also came and led the girls in a dance, which Carroll said they enjoyed.

Around 30 children attended the program on the first two days, June 26 and June 28.

The program is designed for children going into kindergarten through sixth grade, though Carroll said she will never turn anyone away.

Older siblings of those attending have often come and helped with activities.

Younger children have shown up as well and volunteers have been able to assist them in reading or playing games.

Students that attend Hamilton Elementary School or any other elementary school and live at Pondale Apartments are also welcome to join.

The last day of the program will be Aug. 2.

“It gives them something to do and they can hang out with friends. If they learn too that’s great,” Carroll said.

Bethany Kemming is at bethany.kemming@ecm-inc.com

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