WENATCHEE — Bicycles and tennis. Beach balls and sidewalk chalk. Waterwheels, wind chimes, nature journals ...
Being bored this summer isn’t on the schedule for 175 Wenatchee elementary and middle school students participating in the summer versions of the district’s after school programs — even though COVID-19 has kept them home.
“The approach of our programs has always been on providing fun and engaging hands-on enrichment activities and this is no different,” said Maura Danforth, project director for the district’s after school academic enrichment programs funded by 21st Century Community Learning Center grants.
Instead of four weeks of in-person summer camps at school facilities offered in the past, this year students each Monday picked up kits that contained a week’s worth of themed activities, instruction and all the supplies needed to complete projects and crafts. They also were invited to share their work with fellow students and instructors through Google Meet and Flipgrid, a video-sharing program. The summer sessions, which started June 22 and runs through Friday, included about 25 students from each of five elementary schools and two middle schools.
The 79 student videos posted on Flipgrid the first week received more than 1,100 views, not counting the videos, pictures and comments posted on Google Classroom, said Mikela Kowatsch, Mission View Elementary School’s site coordinator. The number of Flipgrid videos posted by Wednesday of the second week more than doubled those posted in the entire first week.
“There is even more content from the kiddos on Google Classroom again. In the first two weeks alone, students logged well over 40 hours of participation,” Kowatsch said.
Parent May Tussey rates the summer camp a success.
“The past three months have been stressful for everyone,” said Tussey, whose daughter Cambree, is a student at Lewis & Clark. “It is so nice to have this box full of fun activities and best of all it required no planning on my part. I get to sit back and enjoy watching her do them and even get to have a little fun myself. This summer camp has given her something to look forward to. I am blown away by the creative fun project each box holds.”
Myra Madsen, site coordinator at Lewis & Clark Elementary School, is pleased with the participation level.
“Both parents and students were excited to have something hands-on to do,” she said. “Kids are really enjoying it so far, at least they say so. But their videos show they are engaged and happy. Hopefully keeping engaged brains helps students in the long run. This is going to be a long summer for a lot of children.”