Reading, math, science, and writing were reinforced through individual study as well as team-building activities and competitions. The kids even launched a classroom blog. Outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, gardening,and cooking were also part of the camp, which ran Mondays through Thursdays from 9am to3pm.
Initially launched to address the “brain drain” that often occurs during the summer months when children are out of school, SVDP’s kids’ program, known as Project Possibilities, has a broad mission: “We want these children to be intelligent and productive young citizens in their community,” Fleming says.
Seeing them succeed at various tasks this summer was very rewarding, says says. Whether it was “making a cake, reading a tough book, finishing a project, or working hard through an uncomfortable conflict,” she was pleased to watch them learn and grow.
Given that most of the children have experienced extreme poverty, hardship and homelessness in their young lives, disagreements and behavioral issues were sometimes a challenge. “In the first week, we did an activity about words and actions that hurt hearts or heal hearts, and we continued to use that language [throughout the summer],” Borgemenke says.
With the three teachers’ patience, compassion and positive reinforcement, these lessons gradually took root. “It touches me to hear kids say things like, `I healed her heart!’ or `I don’t want to be a hearthurter,’” Borgemenke adds.