My students are a wonderfully diverse group of third and fourth graders in an inner city school in Columbus, Ohio. They come from various socioeconomic backgrounds and most would not get to go away to camp without this amazing opportunity.
We are fortunate to work with students born in the United States and those whose families have come to the United States for better opportunities for their children.
They come from Nepal, Mexico, Ghana, El Salvador, Algeria, Somalia and many more places around the world.
Even though they may not have a lot, they work hard at school and are raising funds to help pay their way to camp. They have held a walk-a-thon and will sell candy canes and valentine suckers this year.
The excitement starts when the kids arrive at school with their clothes packed and blankets and pillows rolled up. (Now they know what toiletries are!) We load the buses and take the 45-minute drive to Heartland Outdoor School. When the buses pull into the camp, which sits on hundreds of scenic acres, the students start cheering. The experienced, cheerful staff is waiting to greet us and tell us which cabins we'll be in. Activities start immediately. The outdoor education program meets and exceeds state academic standards on a variety of subjects, giving hands-on reinforcement to what is taught in the classroom. Evenings are spent singing around a campfire, hiking and having a dance party! The children are kept so busy, they are exhausted by bedtime.
Children today are expected to perform at very high levels in school.
They have the added pressure of taking standardized tests, especially the third graders who will not be promoted to fourth grade if they do not achieve certain scores. Anticipating camp keeps the kids motivated to work hard and it also gives them something special to look forward to. We become a cohesive group with the common goal of raising enough money to go camping where lifelong memories will be made.
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