Full 'STEM' ahead at Boys & Girls Club summer camp

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Although summer vacation has barely just begun, hundreds of children are already registered for the Summer Day Camp offered by the Warwick branch of the Boys and Girls Club.

Starting last Monday, June 25 the Warwick Boys and Girls Club began hosting a summer camp for children ages six through 13. From now until the end of August, the camp will run ten five-day sessions, the majority of which have already been completely booked. As of last Thursday, sessions two and ten still have space open to campers.

During the program, campers have access to a variety of environments for their summer activities. The main camp activities take place at the Masonic Youth Center in the Buttonwoods area of Warwick. Upon arrival, the narrow, wooded entrance of the center soon gives way to wide fields, a pool, and a beach, all of which are incorporated into the many activities offered at camp.

Six stations run at a time, with groups of campers rotating stations about every 45 minutes. After taking morning attendance and applying sunscreen, kids can engage in water balloon games at the H2O station, play basketball and volleyball on the courts, make crafts at the imagination station, swim in the pool, or play games suggested by their counselors during “counselor’s choice.” In one station on Wednesday, children played “Deer and Wolf” by hiding behind trees near a field while the designated “wolf” tried to spot them.

“We try to give kids the best summer experience,” said Monique Rossi, one of the camp directors. “Parents tell us how, at the end of the day, their kids don’t even want to leave! They have a blast here.”

Every session of the camp is given a theme.

“Aloha Week,” the theme for last week’s session, was celebrated with a cookout on Friday catered by the Ninety-Nine Restaurant. Rossi hopes that special events like these will allow the camp to come together like a family.

In addition to sports and water games, the program also offers a STEM station intended to get kids involved with and excited about the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Darny Mao, who recently finished her studies on secondary mathematics education, creates and oversees the STEM activities at the camp. Mao, who will begin teaching mathematics at Highlander Charter School this upcoming fall, feels it is crucial to start early with STEM education.

“I think exposure to STEM at this age is important,” she said. “It helps kids develop a lot of skills, like cooperation and problem solving, and gets them excited about math and science topics at a young age.”

Last Tuesday, the children learned about volcanoes to tie in with the camp’s “Aloha Week” theme. In addition to learning about how volcanoes form and erupt, campers got to make their own volcanoes by burying empty water bottles in a mound of sand on the beach and filling the bottles with baking soda and vinegar, creating a model volcano.

Last Wednesday’s STEM experiment involved an activity with marbles, where campers worked together to form cardboard ramps to transfer marbles across a field into buckets.

Each week of camp is $135 per camper. The Summer Day Camp offers limited financial aid upon request to families that qualify. The program has provided 311 weeks of summer camp to families that requested financial aid, made possible by the $40,000 dollars the camp has received in donations. The Providence Journal Summertime Fund, Champlin Foundation, and the City of Warwick provide these donations. This year, about 40 children have gotten to experience the Boys and Girls Club summer camp through these financial aid programs.

The Warwick Boys and Girls Club has been hosting their Summer Day Camp for about 25 years.

Up to 150 campers can be present in the camp per day, led by about 45 counselors. On Wednesday, the camp was almost at capacity with about 30 to 40 kids in a group. The majority of counselors are former members of the camp, some work with the Boys and Girls Club year-round. The counselors, who range from 14-year-olds to college students, often take on counseling roles for their summer job.

The program runs Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., from June 25th to August 31st. In the event of inclement weather, the camp is temporarily relocated indoors to the Oakland Beach Branch of the Boys and Girls Club.

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