December 20, 2014
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‘BLAST’ camp aims to stem learning attrition from vacation
Kelcy Dolan

“We are hoping to fight against summer learning loss. Over the summer every student loses varying percentages of their skills learned throughout the year, especially in math,” said Shevaun Keough-Walker, a consultant for Rhode Island After School Plus Alliance (RIASPA).

The Boys and Girls Club of Warwick, with the help of RIASPA and the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative aim to combat the gap between school, summer, community service and fun learning in a new innovative camp program.

The Boys and Girls Club of Warwick won the Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative Grant for $25,000 in early February and has been creating and planning a new summer camp that not only helps participants retain everything they learned within the school year, but also create closer ties to the community.

The Bringing Learning and Service Together (BLAST) Camp will have participants from grades 4, 5 and 6 come together to collaborate in a community service project over a six-week period, July 7 to Aug. 15. This project can be for advocacy, celebration, renovation, cleanup; whatever the children collectively agree will best help their community.

“The theme for the camp is to appreciate the camp around us and that at any age we have the power to make a difference,” said Karin Kavanagh, coordinator for the new camp and assistant executive director of the Boys and Girls Club.

Kavanagh explained that students would go through a process of research, planning, implementation, reflection and celebration throughout the weeks to experience all sides of community service.

“This camp is all about the youth’s voice,” Keough-Walker said. “We want to show them they are powerful not only to make a difference in their own community, but also in their own education, they can take the initiative.”

Alongside their community service the students will be doing hands-on learning to retain what they had learned throughout the year.

Keough-Walker said, “We are going to fun enriching activities that line up with common core ideals. We have public school teachers involved that understand what needs to be learned with community leaders so everything comes together smoothly.” Two Oakland Beach teachers are helping coordinate and run the camp, Donna Croll and Joan Theroux.

The camp will take offsite field trips to different shorelines and possibly Mystic, although many of the larger activities are still being discussed. There will be trips to Oakland Beach, a scrabble tournament, fun games, a book party and some speakers from the Warwick Public Library and Save the Bay. The Boys and Girls Club greenhouse will be utilized and campers will plant and grow different fruits and vegetables to educate them on healthy lifestyles.

“This is going to be a super program. People should really take advantage of it. It is a great opportunity for kids,” said Lara D’Antuono, executive director of the Warwick Boys and Girls Club.

The camp will be held at the Oakland Beach Boys and Girls Club July 7 to Aug. 15 weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The camp is on a sliding scale based on the student’s school lunch packages. Students with free lunch will be $10 a week, reduced lunch $20 a week, and students with regular lunch will be $30 a week. For extended care days, where the campers will be brought to the Masonic Youth Grounds with the other Boys and Girls Club Summer Camp until 6 p.m., this will cost an extra $10 a week. Breakfast and lunch will be provided through the camp.

For more information on the BLAST Camp and to print out an application, visit www.wbgclubs.org. Applications will be accepted until June 30. Applications must be dropped off or mailed at the Warwick Boys and Girls Club’s administrative office, at the Norwood Branch or P.O. Box 8938, Warwick, RI 02888.


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