Summer Surprise is no ordinary day camp. We sing songs, do drama, enjoy messy crafts, bake in the kitchen, keep active outdoors, and make friends! Okay, so it turns out we’re more ordinary than not! We’re a camp for youth aged 12-21, and cater to a population who have a variety of disabilities. Many of them are challenged through the school year to “keep up”, and we aim to challenge them to learn new skills and try their best during their time at camp!
We try to incorporate literacy into each day, in some way or another. Hopefully some of the following ideas spark an interest with you, the reader!
One of our favourite activities is MadLibs. The counsellors make the silly stories up themselves, leaving blanks to fill in with even sillier words, and they are typically themed to other activities of the day. The campers are gently reminded what nouns and adjectives are, and are helped as needed. Many laughs are generated when we read these stories out loud! Other games that are quick to create, group-oriented, and hilarious, include Scattergories, Charades, and Apples to Apples.
Another popular pick is all the baking we do, at least once a week. The campers think they’re getting tasty treats out of the experience, but our sneaky counsellors encourage campers to read recipe instructions, including numeracy literacy with measuring, and reading labels on ingredients. We also send home a photocopy of every recipe we do, so campers can show-off at home with their families.
We have merged science with literacy, by doing “invisible writing” using lemon juice and a heat source... a magic trick that everyone enjoyed!
We enjoyed an entire day dedicated to “The Newspaper”, participating in activities such as a newspaper scavenger hunt, making “My Own Front Page Newspaper”, and other fun games. There’s often at least one scavenger hunt variation per week, where campers are encouraged to solve a mystery or find a series of clues using written instructions.
Our final “treat” that we’re leaving for the end of the summer is Pen Pals with a younger camp in the same community centre as us. We provide our campers with fill-in-the-blank letters, and try to pair them up to exchange a few letters throughout the week. This hobby has sadly fallen by the wayside in our 2013 lifestyle, but our campers love it!
We make literacy fun on a daily basis by slipping it into games, crafts, and other great camp activities. Summer is indeed for leisure and relaxation, but there’s no reason our reading skills can’t stay sharp too!
Submitted by Bri Arnold
Summer Surprise Day Camp, Coordinator, City of London