BY INDIANA NASH
SCHENECTADY- Most kids look forward to summer vacation, to catching a break from stuffy classrooms and daunting schoolwork.
For many kids at the Schenectady Inner City Ministry’s Summer Camp, the only thing that makes summer great is being at camp.
This is the camp’s third year in operation, according to executive director Rev. Phil Grigsby.
The six-week program provided around thirty kids from ages seven to twelve two meals a day, field trips, fun activities and a bit of a community.
Counselor Lilly Perry said that many of the campers that attended last year returned for another year so the camp started out with a sense of camaraderie that has only grown since.
SICM’s summer program uses the same curriculum as Camp Fowler, said Grigsby.
They are a Christian based camp that welcomes all other religions.
Camp director Ariel White said that they read bible stories in the morning and often sing christian songs. But there have been a few occasions where a camper or counselor wanted to read a buddhist story and they’ve done that too.
Under White’s planning, each week of the camp had a theme which framed the activities. There was a science week, a reality show week, a career and life skills week, a literacy week, and a culture week among others.
There are also weekly field trips that coincide with the camp.
“It exposes kids to places they might not have seen or been to before,” Grigsby said.
While the campers seem to love the field trips (it’s often their favorite day of the week), most of the campers just appreciate having a place to go during the day.
One camper, Ian Johnson-Trotter said that he loves coming to the camp because he loves spending time with the counselors and spending the whole day in the park.
“I would probably just sit in my room and lock the door,” said Ian when asked what he would do if he didn’t have camp.
Nathan Blanchard, was a camper for the past two years and is now a counselor in training.
“The age cut-off is twelve, but I really wanted to come back. . . because I just love it,” Nathan said, who turned thirteen this year.
White said that the counselors in training have been helpful in getting kids together for activities and with getting camp materials where they need to be.
The day starts out with breakfast from SICM’s food delivery program. Then camp starts around 9:30 with bible stories and singing. The rest of the morning and afternoon the campers are busy with various activities such as games or crafts. Then they’ll end with lunch delivered by SICM around 1:00.
“But about half our campers stay and go to the Boys and Girls Club,” White said.
The Boys and Girls Club camp runs until 4:30 p.m. at Steinmtz Park so many of the campers will stay in the park all day.
Beyond having a place to go, SICM’s summer camp also works to provide campers with activities and programs that help enrich their interests.
“Last year I started a writing group and we’re still meeting and writing this year,” counselor Lilly Perry said.
She goes to SUNY Geneseo and is involved with the poetry slam team there.
“The kids have little notebooks to write their stories in and sometimes we’ll have writing prompts,” Perry said.
Other times, they’ll work on poetry or skits.
“We actually had an open mic last week and that was really great. At first, the kids were a bit unsure but they got comfortable and were confident by the end,” Perry said.