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CER day camps offer learning opportunities

June 15, 2012
Jenn Brookens , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Some kids on summer break might already be complaining, "I'm bored." But the children participating in the CER day camps are too busy to complain.

"They did a good job on the race this morning," said Kris Bauman, CER coordinator for the day camps and after-school programs. "Most of them completed it within two hours."

This week was "The Amazing Race" portion of the day camp, a take-off on the reality series of the same name. The following two weeks will have themes of "The Great Outdoors," and "Survivor."

Article Photos

Students keep busy playing pick-up sticks and dominoes during a moment of downtime at Community Education and Recreation’s day camp. Two more weeks of camp will be held at Cedar Creek Park in Fairmont.

"For 'The Amazing Race,' they've had different teams each day," Bauman said. "There's a start and finish point, with several challenges in between, just like the show. They all get points in their passports for completing, it's not about first, second or third place."

During "The Great Outdoors" portion, the children will have a visit from the Ecology bus, and focus more on nature, such as hiking, campfire cooking, leaf identification and animal impressions.

"It will be less structured than 'The Amazing Race,' and there's more choices for what the campers want to do," Bauman said.

The third week takes on a "Survivor" aspect. The campers will be divided into two "tribes" that will be together for the entire week, and will be doing more challenges.

"Teamwork will be stressed again," Bauman said. "But unlike the show, there are no eliminations."

The three-week day camp program is broken up into one-week units to make it more convenient for families with other activities.

"The first time I did this, the entire thing took four and a half weeks," Bauman recalled. "But this year it's one week at a time. That way if there's a Bible camp or a vacation, the family doesn't have to pay for that time they aren't there."

Along with teamwork, the campers are learning. During "The Amazing Race," the campers spent time learning the history of the downtown Fairmont area, along with finding the graves of the Fairmont founders such as William Budd, and even eating beans on the Hobo Trail.

"It's teaching teamwork, it's teaching about our city," said camp counselor Amanda Flohrs. "They're learning how to listen and follow clues."

The campers are also encouraged to share their strengths with their group.

"We know we're all good at different things," Bauman said. "So if you're good at figuring out clues, help out the others. If you're more athletic, help the others out."

Bauman's approach to directing the camp depends on the number of campers.

"More kids means less structure," Bauman said. "You can have one group that's doing hiking, another that's doing something else. But with smaller groups, you almost need to have a curriculum so all the kids are doing the same thing at the same time."

But either way, the kids seem happy. When Bauman asks the group to rate the camp on a scale of 1 to 10, most of them scream out, "Ten!"

"If it was a scale from one to a hundred, I'd give it a thousand," offered third-grader Ceira Rilea.

The camp is also a learning experience for new camp counselors Flohrs and Juanita Heckman. Stephanie Thompson also helps as a camp counselor.

"It's been great," Heckman said. "I just love working with the kids."

Those interested in learning about the CER day camps and other summer activities can call the CER office at (507) 235-3141.



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