By Sean Korsgaard
No child’s summer is complete without a trip to summer camp, and for the kids at Summer Exploration Day Camp, they’re having a summer that has been, as with the camp’s theme this year, completely “Out of this World”.
Held at Bowling Green Elementary School through July 14, the Summer Exploration Day Camp is run by Caroline County Parks and Recreation, and in the words of Activities Coordinator Sonya Lewis, has finally started to hit its stride again after several years of changes to the camp.
“We lost a lot of kids from previous years because our fees went up, but the kids and parents are getting a lot more for it,” said Lewis. “One big change this year has been that we began offering after care, where the kids get to stay until 5 p.m., which has been a big help to the parents.”
In addition to offering the kids lots of outdoor activities, as well as indoor activities like watching movies, the camp offers daily projects keeping with the “Out of this World” theme, which as Lewis points out, is focused not only on both out of the ordinary places, but also encouraging out of the box thinking in the campers.
“This past week, the theme has been ‘Out of this World food’, so we’ve had them doing things like making rocket ships out of fruit, and cooking s’mores in a solar oven they made, Today they made an aquarium out of jello and Swedish fish, it’s the rare kind of hands-on education that the kids get to eat, which they just love.”
In addition to activities supervised by Parks and Recreation, the day camp has also partnered with groups ranging from Caroline Fire and Rescue, the Caroline County Sheriff’s Department, whose members have come in to talk with the kids, and the Caroline County Public Library, which has helped with arts and crafts.
“We had the kids making fidget spinners this week,” said Amy Lilly, Library Director for Caroline County. “Last week we had the kids make magnetic slime, and next week we’ll be teaching them about the light spectrum.”
One of the issues coming into this year’s summer camp was there had been some recent changes to the program, as well as an attendance drop off when the rates went up. 70 kids attended the Summer Exploration Day Camp this year, down from a peak of more than 300 several years ago, but as Lewis says, the parents are getting bang for their buck, and the kids are loving every minute of it.
“I would love to see the program really grow,” said Lewis. “We give the kids all that we can for seven weeks straight, they get a lot out of it, they have a lot of fun, and we hope a lot more kids come out next year.”