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Summer Club students engaged in fun learning options

Each day of Summer Club offers students a variety of activities, including time for academics. Students use iPad applications for math, science and reading lessons. (Amy Chaffins/Echo Press)1 / 3
This first year of Summer Club hosted about 55 students; this summer, there are 135 kids enrolled. (Contributed)2 / 3
Recreation is part of each day of Summer Club, and students take part in everything from four-square to golf. (Amy Chaffins/Echo Press)3 / 3

There’s a group of about 135 students taking part in a local program that keeps their brains engaged during summer vacation from school.

Alexandria School District 206 Community Education is currently hosting its fourth year of Summer Club.

Summer Club is a six-week, three-days-per-week (Tuesday through Thursday) opportunity for students in grades 5-8 to take part in enriching summer experiences that allow for new, fun experiences.

Summer Club is open to all students at all levels of learning, but is targeted to students academically at-risk, according to Lisa Bowden, youth enrichment coordinator for Alexandria School District 206 Community Education.

“Our main goal is to bridge the summer learning gap and create an environment where students will come to appreciate and enjoy learning,” she explained.

“We want this to carry over into the school year and increase confidence and success in school,” she said.

Why is Summer Club targeted to students in grades 5-8?

Middle level youth do not typically need childcare, however they do need some productive activities in the summer when parents are working or busy with younger siblings, Bowden explained.

“Children ages 10 to 14 may spend over 40 hours a week in an unsupervised setting while parents work,” she said. “This is a pivotal age where boredom can occur easily and students are learning about who they are as individuals.”

Students are responsible for choosing their schedule of activities each day of Summer Club; Bowden said it’s an effort to give the students a sense of personal responsibility.

Each day includes:

● Academics – Math, reading and science lessons using iPad applications; science experi- ments; using county library.

● Recreation – Bowling, fishing, volleyball, biking, tennis, golf, kickball, etc.

● Cooking – Learning to measure, follow directions, using healthier recipes.

● Character building – Building social skills, learning to be a good friend.

● Special events – Weekly trips to places like Luther Crest Bible Camp’s Challenge Course, a Blue Anchor’s baseball game, Casey’s Amusement Park and more.

Students also help out other community entities, like Douglas County Historical Society, where they are helping tend the on-site garden.

There are seven teachers, five specialty staff and three paraprofessionals who supervise and provide structure for each day of Summer Club.

“Summer can get really long for some students but I think Summer Camp helps fill it in. [Students] get to be with others, having fun, socializing, which is important at this age,” said teacher Kathleen Moore.

“Getting to do different things,” is the highlight of Summer Camp for Kristin, 13, who will be an eighth grader this fall.

Currently, Summer Camp is in week four of the six-week program. Each day runs from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

United Way of Douglas and Pope Counties help contribute to the transportation costs for Summer Club.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

(320) 763-3133