Field Trip: A science a day keeps the 'learning loss' at bay, say YMCA Camp Kern counselors

OREGONIA, Ohio - It's a phrase that may strike fear into teachers and parents: learning loss. And it can happen while kids are chilling out over the summer, while young brains are not learning.

One local camp provides an opportunity for youths to put down the video games and smart phones and have fun while keeping their minds engaged.

  • Camp: YMCA Camp Kern
  • Where: Oregonia, Ohio
  • Ages: 9-15

For some summer campers, science class was in session the week of June 16. Youths at YMCA Camp Kern had the opportunity to learn while having fun with a variety of science activities.

“They (campers) may already be interested in science, but if not, we try to show them it’s not just boring numbers and periodic tables; it can be fun, too,” said camp counselor Grady Simms.

The first session of this summer’s science add-on recently concluded. However, it will be offered again July 28 through Aug. 2.

One camp, many experiences

Located about 40 miles northeast of Cincinnati, YMCA Camp Kern offers activities year-round, including outdoor education, horseback riding lessons, zip line canopy tours and teambuilding and leadership programs. During the summer, the camp features four core programs to children ages 5 to 16.

Offered in week long sessions June through August, they include:

  • Main Camp
  • Taste of Kern / First Camp
  • Teen programs
  • Ranch camp

Main Camp is the most traditional of the summer sessions and is open to children ages seven to 15. Campers are placed in one of four villages, depending on their ages. Frontier Village is for campers 7 to 9, Explorer Village is geared toward ages 9 to 11, Adventure Village is designed for those who are 11 to 13 and Pioneer Village is open to campers 13 to 15 years old.

“My favorite part about Camp Kern, in general, is that because I was in the Explorer age group, I got to play a game called Capture the Coo Stick,” said camper Ethan Zied.

Youths in Main Camp take part in traditional experiences like campfires, singing and dances, as well as age-specific games and activities. Each day, campers participate in three activities of their choosing--from swimming to archery and even digital photography.

For an additional fee, campers ages nine to 15 can choose an add-on as part of their camp experiences. An add-ons takes the place of two of the three daily activities, leaving one for the camper to choose.

That's where science comes in--as well as cooking, broadcasting, aviation, and other options.

The science add-on has been around for about eight years. While it has not been offered every year, it has been available off and on for the past two summers, said YMCA Camp Kern Executive Director Chris Addison.

A science a day

For campers opting for this add-on, Monday through Thursday were split into different categories, Simms said. Campers learned through different activities each day focused on physics, chemistry, biology and astronomy, respectively.

“We don’t get too deep into discussion because then they lose interest,” said camp counselor Rachel Kelly.

On Monday, campers learned about how pressure makes water balloons pop and discussed catching techniques. The physics lesson and discussion were paired with activities like throwing water balloons and dropping them off a structure known as Pete’s Tower.

Chemistry day followed on Tuesday, with campers combining Mentos with Diet Coke, making ice cream and mixing Coca Cola with milk to watch it separate.

On Wednesday, campers used a computer simulation program to move around and take apart a skull. They also got a new perspective of the saying, “You are what you eat,” by making a human skeleton out of food, with vanilla wafers as joints, Twizzlers as tendons and pretzel sticks as bones (see below).

Campers learned about astronomy on Thursday, creating the Big Dipper, Pegasus and other constellations by sticking glow-in-the-dark stars to trash bags. They also dressed up as astronauts in space suits made from trash bags and boxes.

“So the kids don’t feel like they’re missing out on other activities, we try to make it more fun and learning at the same time,” Kelly said.

A lesson in values

With an emphasis on fun, the science add-on is a way to combat summer learning loss, keeping campers engaged in a core subject when they are not in school. And, whether or not they participate in an add-on, youths learn about and hone skills in subjects ranging from swimming to digital photography.

While campers are learning about science and gaining new skills, they also are learning the YMCA’s values: Caring, trustworthiness, honesty and responsibility.

“We try to instill values in the kids, like sharing, not to bully and not to fight,” Simms said.

Camp also helps kids build character and, in many cases, friendships. Camper Kalin Stephens, who participated in the science add-on, said his favorite part about camp was making new friends.

“I made lots of cabin friends, and I met my second best friend there this year.

OREGONIA, Ohio - It's a phrase that may strike fear into teachers and parents: learning loss. And it can happen while kids are chilling out over the summer, while young brains are not learning.

One local camp provides an opportunity for youths to put down the video games and smart phones and have fun while keeping their minds engaged.

  • Camp: YMCA Camp Kern
  • Where: Oregonia, Ohio
  • Ages: 9-15

For some summer campers, science class was in session the week of June 16. Youths at YMCA Camp Kern had the opportunity to learn while having fun with a variety of science activities.

“They (campers) may already be interested in science, but if not, we try to show them it’s not just boring numbers and periodic tables; it can be fun, too,” said camp counselor Grady Simms.

The first session of this summer’s science add-on recently concluded. However, it will be offered again July 28 through Aug. 2.

One camp, many experiences

Located about 40 miles northeast of Cincinnati, YMCA Camp Kern offers activities year-round, including outdoor education, horseback riding lessons, zip line canopy tours and teambuilding and leadership programs. During the summer, the camp features four core programs to children ages 5 to 16.

Offered in week long sessions June through August, they include:

  • Main Camp
  • Taste of Kern / First Camp
  • Teen programs
  • Ranch camp

Main Camp is the most traditional of the summer sessions and is open to children ages seven to 15. Campers are placed in one of four villages, depending on their ages. Frontier Village is for campers 7 to 9, Explorer Village is geared toward ages 9 to 11, Adventure Village is designed for those who are 11 to 13 and Pioneer Village is open to campers 13 to 15 years old.

“My favorite part about Camp Kern, in general, is that because I was in the Explorer age group, I got to play a game called Capture the Coo Stick,” said camper Ethan Zied.

Youths in Main Camp take part in traditional experiences like campfires, singing and dances, as well as age-specific games and activities. Each day, campers participate in three activities of their choosing--from swimming to archery and even digital photography.

For an additional fee, campers ages nine to 15 can choose an add-on as part of their camp experiences. An add-ons takes the place of two of the three daily activities, leaving one for the camper to choose.

That's where science comes in--as well as cooking, broadcasting, aviation, and other options.

The science add-on has been around for about eight years. While it has not been offered every year, it has been available off and on for the past two summers, said YMCA Camp Kern Executive Director Chris Addison.

A science a day

For campers opting for this add-on, Monday through Thursday were split into different categories, Simms said. Campers learned through different activities each day focused on physics, chemistry, biology and astronomy, respectively.

“We don’t get too deep into discussion because then they lose interest,” said camp counselor Rachel Kelly.

On Monday, campers learned about how pressure makes water balloons pop and discussed catching techniques. The physics lesson and discussion were paired with activities like throwing water balloons and dropping them off a structure known as Pete’s Tower.

Chemistry day followed on Tuesday, with campers combining Mentos with Diet Coke, making ice cream and mixing Coca Cola with milk to watch it separate.

On Wednesday, campers used a computer simulation program to move around and take apart a skull. They also got a new perspective of the saying, “You are what you eat,” by making a human skeleton out of food, with vanilla wafers as joints, Twizzlers as tendons and pretzel sticks as bones (see below).

Campers learned about astronomy on Thursday, creating the Big Dipper, Pegasus and other constellations by sticking glow-in-the-dark stars to trash bags. They also dressed up as astronauts in space suits made from trash bags and boxes.

“So the kids don’t feel like they’re missing out on other activities, we try to make it more fun and learning at the same time,” Kelly said.

A lesson in values

With an emphasis on fun, the science add-on is a way to combat summer learning loss, keeping campers engaged in a core subject when they are not in school. And, whether or not they participate in an add-on, youths learn about and hone skills in subjects ranging from swimming to digital photography.

While campers are learning about science and gaining new skills, they also are learning the YMCA’s values: Caring, trustworthiness, honesty and responsibility.

“We try to instill values in the kids, like sharing, not to bully and not to fight,” Simms said.

Camp also helps kids build character and, in many cases, friendships. Camper Kalin Stephens, who participated in the science add-on, said his favorite part about camp was making new friends.

“I made lots of cabin friends, and I met my second best friend there this year.

A popular place

Located in Oregonia, Ohio, YMCA Camp Kern draws visitors from the Dayton and Cincinnati areas. About 2,000 youths attend camp each summer. Including those who participate in seasonal camps, zip line tours, leadership training and equestrian opportunities, the camp hosts about 30,000 guests per year.

YMCA Camp Kern is accredited by the American Camp Association and was voted the 2014 Best Summer Camp by CityBeat.

 

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