Camp Awesome, Selkirk’s popular day camp program which runs during spring break and throughout the summer, has had some exciting enhancements made. The city believes they will provide even more value to local families.
Courtney Bangert-Murray, the city’s Program Coordinator, says there are exciting changes that link to the Kindergarten to Grade 5 curriculum and target learning in an outdoor environment to improve the experience for kids that attend camp, which runs for nine weeks beginning July 4.
“We’ve rebranded Camp Awesome and there’s lots of fun stuff for the kids. We’re giving them a camp experience in a more focused format,” Bangert-Murray said, “The activities that we will do at camp will be specifically targeted and planned to meet those learning outcomes that match up with the K-5 curriculum.”
Aiming to curb summer learning loss, connect children with nature
Selkirk’s CAO, Duane Nicol said that the enhanced program takes an already successful and affordable program and leverages it to make investments into the development of our most important resource, our youth.
“Summer learning loss is a real change. Many families just can’t provide engaging and intellectually stimulating enrichment opportunities for their young children during the summer months. Without this, students lose some of what they learned the school year before and start the new year a bit behind. This can compound year after year and can leave some children far behind before they even leave elementary school. By aligning the camp’s programming with school curriculum it can provide that enrichment and help reduce summer learning loss” said Nicol.
The city worked with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) to develop Camp Awesome’s activities. CPAWS is a national charity that advocates for the effective, long-term protection of ecologically- and culturally significant land, freshwater, and ocean areas in Canada.
“When children spend time in nature, a shift happens. They are curious, they want to explore, their imaginations run wild. As we spend time in nature, we develop a deep and meaningful relationship with the natural world. We begin to see that each tree is alive, unique, and important. We notice the subtle but complex intricacies of the natural world. We notice that there is life everywhere. We begin to care, to take responsibility for the planet. The more children we can connect to nature, the better. This is our next generation of environmental stewards. I am pleased with the direction that Camp Awesome is moving towards and I look forward to watching their program grow,” said Avery Kash, Environmental Educator with CPAWS.
Nicol said that integrating the outdoors and nature play was a logical improvement to the program due to both its location and the city’s strategic plan.
“Outdoor play has always been a core part of the program because it’s delivered in Selkirk Park. Working with CPAWS we’ve been able to enhance that and be more intentional about the integration of natural play and learning about the environment into the program. This integration is a natural extension of the work the city has done and continues to do to build a more sustainable community. Citizens told us in our community strategic plan that they wanted the community, city, and residents, to be better stewards of our environment, this idea is now embedded into this program.”
Play-based, nature-focused learning
Councillor Lorie Fiddler, who is an Early Childhood Educator and has been in the Early Learning and Childcare Field for 40 years, says that the changes to Camp Awesome reflect leading practices child development and will have significant benefits for area youth.
“I am a strong advocate for play-based, nature-focused learning. I have looked at the plans that Camp Awesome has for our children this year and I am so excited for them. They will reap the benefits of this camp for years to come. This model of learning and care will build on all developmental skills. We know children who are exposed to nature and creative exploration succeed academically, socially, and emotionally. They are more likely to become stewards of our environment, and feel connected to our community” said Fiddler.
Program linked to six core pillars
All activities at Camp Awesome will be linked back to six core pillars – nature, movement, creativity, community, education, and play. Each week will be dedicated to one of the pillars. The camp will follow the Forest School philosophy, which provides children the opportunity to learn and develop through hands-on learning in a natural, outdoor environment.
The pillars guide and support activities at Camp Awesome and every activity will have a connection to at least one, if not all six of the pillars. For example, activities will align with the education pillar and link to the K-5 provincial curriculum in subjects like math, science, and social studies. The play pillar will have children using their creativity to develop their imagination, and dexterity, along with physical, cognitive and emotional strength.
Bangert-Murray says the intent is for the kids to take what they learn at camp and use it in their own world.
“In the community pillar, we’ll use different activities to integrate and discuss what community means, what that looks like, both community at camp and community when they leave camp,” she said, “It ties in with other pillars, like the nature pillar. We want students to learn good practices for stewardship and be good people to the land. We want to encourage that when they leave camp.”
For the movement pillar, the goal is to incorporate meaningful movement into the activities.
“It’s not just run outside and play with a ball, we want to have skills and activities that look at physical literacy, so that children are either learning those skills or practising those skills,” Bangert-Murray said.
“Some children might not play sports where they would learn this physical literacy, so this gives them a fun space to learn.”
You can learn more and register now for Camp Awesome at MySelkirk.ca/campawesome.