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I’d like to introduce you to Addie Schoen from Atlanta, Georgia.  She is a senior at Auburn University who has come to intern in the Development Department at Kid Power this summer.  In this two-part series, Addie will share with you a day in the life of a Kid Power camper.  In part one, Addie visits our elementary school campsite in Columbia Heights.  -- Rashid

I was thrilled to arrive at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School to experience Kid Power campers for the first time. When I walked in the big red doors of the school, the air conditioning engulfed me and my anticipation built even more. There were signs pointing me in the way of Kid Power but I didn’t need them; I could hear the kids playing and laughing from the second I opened the door.

Following the playful noises, I came upon three different Kid Power classrooms full of smiling, excited, elementary school students. I walked in one of the classrooms and was greeted with big smiles from everyone, students and staff alike. The classroom environment was bright and welcoming. When I walked in, the students were finishing an intense literacy lesson on parts of speech using mad lib games and were fidgeting in their seats, excited for a little extra free time that they had earned by behaving so well earlier in the week.

 

As soon as free time began, I was invited to play Scrabble with two beautiful young ladies with perpetual smiles on their faces. One of the girls had braided hair and a confident attitude and the other girl was tall and lean and said whatever came to her mind. I thought I would be the one to lead most of the conversation but they both had lots of questions for me as well, including “Why do you talk so funny?” and “Do you have brothers and sisters?” and “What do you like to do?” It shocked me how interested they were in getting to know me and I instantly felt welcomed and embraced.  After answering their questions and asking them about their own personal interests, we then began talking about how much they liked camp. Both girls told me how much fun the teachers and volunteers are, even describing each teacher’s individual interests and personalities.

After talking with the girls for a while I walked outside where the other students were playing. The students were from all different backgrounds and personalities, but they all played together and everyone was included.  I saw firsthand the love and admiration that each student had for the Kid Power staff and vice versa.

Once free time was over the students came in and sat down for service learning. During service learning the students eagerly discussed local community and environment issues and ways that they can personally help to do something about it. After a little discussion and settling on a plan of action, the students got ready for lunch.

The lunch room was big with long lunch tables just like the ones I remember from my elementary school. At lunch, each student had a choice of two different kinds of sandwiches and got as many oranges and peaches as they could eat. It smelled delicious and I wished I hadn’t eaten such a late breakfast.

I sat with the same two girls I had been with at recess and a few of their friends. Each student was incredibly generous, asking if I wanted a bite of their sandwich or a sliver of their orange. I quickly realized that every student I talked to was noticeably happy both to be at camp and to be involved in every different activity Kid Power had planned out for them.

The last activity of the day varies depending on the day of the week; on Mondays and Wednesdays the students go swimming and on Tuesdays and Thursdays the students have enrichment which is when the kids split into different clubs or activities based on their interests. The students pick from: Movement Club, where they learn yoga and dance, Art Club, where they learn about different cultures around the world and then create something symbolic of that culture, or VeggieTime, where the students learn nutritional and environmental science, through gardening, cooking, and science projects.

Since I visited on a Tuesday I accompanied many of the children to VeggieTime. At VeggieTime the students get to learn and be involved in experiments concerning the environment. The day I was there, the students did a hands-on experiment where they first discovered the different layers in soil and then tested whether water passes through large particles or small particles faster. The students made hypotheses, wrote down their observations, and then after conducting the experiment wrote down what they had discovered and how it applied to what they had learned that day. The students were all so fascinated by what they had found and interested in learning more.

One of my favorite parts of the day was experiencing the adoration the Kid Power staff and volunteers had for each student. It amazed me how involved and interested they were in every second of the day, whether it was engaging the students with an experiment during VeggieTime, being right in on the action and games during recess, or stimulating the students to think beyond themselves about what they can do to help in the community.

Every part of the day serves its own purpose and the students are simultaneously building relationships and learning without even realizing it. It astonished me what an incredible job Kid Power does of blending academics and learning with enrichment and fun. It isn’t easy to engage 7-11 year olds for an entire day, let alone attempt to equip them with academic skills to serve them in the future but Kid Power is successful in every way. Once the fun filled day was over, I had even learned a few things about the environment my self. Not one kid seemed ready to leave – and honestly, neither was I!


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