Morning and afternoon on the Bucknall campus, Harker’s youngest summer campers are energetically enjoying toys, climbing on play equipment and getting to know each other. Little do they know that this playground interaction is also helping to prepare them for their first year of school –Harker or other– this fall.
Kindercamp is part of the Harker K-Gr. 8 summer program. All children have morning academic classes and afternoon activity groups; however, the youngest children do things a little differently than older campers. They have their own play area and they spend time practicing school routines like following directions, sitting in a chair, walking in a line and raising one’s hand before speaking.
The youngest campers participate in the same afternoon activities as the older ones, but some, like the “color clash,” the all-camp opening event of the afternoon program, are attended by Kindercampers just once a week. Harker Kindercampers participate in afternoon art, swimming, field games, circus arts, dance and archery.
One recent afternoon, the campers overwhelmingly voted swimming as their favorite activity; Andrei Yang also likes “playing archery,” and “I always like to do reading. And I like math and subtraction, addition, and writing and all those things.” He added, “Most of all my favorite thing is swimming!” Kaden Kapadia also enjoys camp, and says the best thing he’s done is “playing games in the gym.”
Teachers, aides and coaches in Harker’s Kindercamp are specially selected for this group for their understanding of this young group of campers. Harker kindergarten teachers Gerry-louise Robinson and Grace Wallace both taught in the morning academic session this summer; Matt Heinlein, one of Harker’s afternoon coaches, is back for his second year with the kindergartners.
Heinlein’s understanding of the needs of this group of children was demonstrated when he pointed out that, with the physical differences between first graders and kindergartners, “they don’t yet have the coordination or balance of older kids, or the ability to take in all the rules and follow them at one time. So if we were to do a relay race we would have to do just one thing at a time.” He takes this into consideration as he plans each afternoon activity. He really enjoys getting to know the kids. “They’re such sweethearts, and say the most adorable things ever.”
Clearly, Harker’s Kindercampers are in good hands!