Some children waste their summer days wedged in the folds of their sofa watching television and playing on their computer, losing important skills they gained throughout the school year while missing out on socialization and fun activities.
Parents aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have an opportunity to provide much more to their children than video games and cartoons through Marine Corps Community Services’ All American Summer School Age Camp.
“We’re going to provide a lot of fun, exciting and new opportunities with unique field trips for children in a very safe environment,” said Patrick Larkin the youth activities director with the Stone Street Youth Pavilion. “It’s going to be fun.”
Beginning June 11, children who have not yet entered 7th grade will be able to spend their days surrounded by peers and supervised by staff exploring the country right from MCB Camp Lejeune.
The camp theme this year, All American Summer, will explore the cultures and experiences of Americans by spending each week of the camp focused on a different region. The weeks will conclude with a celebration where the children will dress up based on the theme and highlight what they learned.
“These children know the military culture,” said Larkin. “It can be different outside of every installation, so being aware of the cultures outside of their homes is important. It opens them to new cultures and experiences. It lets them know about the options out there.”
The camp will take place at the Stone Street Youth Pavilion aboard MCB Camp Lejeune and at the Tarawa Terrace Youth Pavilion in the housing community.
While activities and themes may differ, both places will offer the same amount of field trips.
“It’s the same quality program, just different activities,” said Maria Ready, assistant family care branch manager with Special Programs.
During the day camp the children will rotate through activities, including an art area where they will be able to partake in crafts and rehearse, prepare and perform a theater production.
There will also be an area where the children will explore and experiment with the world of science by hatching chickens, and raising frogs and butterflies.
Other activities, such as tending to a full-service vegetable garden, will also be available for the children to participate.
The camp will present plenty of opportunities for physical activities and will have an open, unstructured playroom.
“When the weather’s nice, and we’re not under a heat advisory we always get them outside,” said Larkin. “Being able to play in the fresh air is very good for them.”
There are numerous and frequent field trips planned to locations such as WonderWorks in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Jungle Rapids in Wilmington, N.C., the North Carolina Aquarium, the Sea Turtle Hospital in Topsail Island, N.C. and the Marble Kids Museum in Raleigh, N.C.
There are also local field trips planned to the movie theater, pools, rock climbing, kayaking and bowling.
Children will be separated into groups based on their grade and matched with staff members who work well with their age group.
“(We) know the strengths each counselor has,” said Larkin. “We know which age groups they are happier and work better with. The staff relates very well with their age groups.”
The staff took ownership over the quality of the program and is very excited to see their plans come to fruition, Ready added.
Staff members are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, pediatric medication administration, food safety, as well as other Children, Youth and Teen Program training.
The meals and snacks for the program will be prepared by the Officers’ Club and will meet nutritional guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Food Program.
“We’re proud to say we try to offer healthy fare for children,” said Ready.
Children will not be allowed to bring in outside food, and parents are asked to bring in a doctor’s note detailing any allergies a child may have, along with alternative suggestions to properly modify what the child can eat. The same is requested for any other special needs a child has.
“It’s very important for parents to be upfront about any medical needs a child has so we can better serve the child,” said Ready. “If you let us know ahead of time we try to accommodate to the child’s needs.”
The camp opens at 5:45 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
There are two options available for care, full-time care and daily care. The price for full-time care is determined based on income and starts at $52 per week.
Daily care must be scheduled ahead of time to ensure there is space available for the child and cost $30 per day.
Full-time campers will be provided with two camp shirts while daily campers can buy one for $8. Camp shirts ensure participants are with trusted adults and the appropriate age group. They add an element of safety, making the campers easily identifiable to staff members during field trips and activities.
Larkin and Ready also ask children wear appropriate shoes, as the potential for injury increases if children wear flip-flops or other inappropriate footwear.
Parents are required to provide sunscreen or sun block for their campers along with any other topical medications or lotions, such as calamine.
“We can’t supply it because it is a type of medication,” said Ready. “We’re relying on parents to notify us about the needs of the child.”
The program is first-come-first serve. Children of active-duty military have priority when registering, however children of Department of Defense and MCCS employees are welcome.
“Ask yourself, isn’t it an investment to enroll your child into a quality program like this?” said Ready. “They’re learning throughout the summer. Their curiosity is being piqued. They are going on trips, and they are going to be actively engaged. Instead of leaving your child at home just watching TV and getting into mischief, this is an investment.”
For more information call, 450-0553 or visit, mccslejeune.com/cytp.