Camp mixes games, learning

pseligson@newsobserver.comJuly 1, 2014 

— For about 200 kids in Johnston County, this summer is full of games, sports and learning.

In Selma, the nonprofit Boys and Girls Club runs a summer camp that offers children cooking classes, arts and crafts, games ranging from foosball to pool, a computer lab, sports and lessons to prepare for the next school year. The camp, for ages 6-14, runs from mid-June through mid-August. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Parents pay what they can, said club director Mamie Moore.

“All these programs keep (the kids) active and moving,” Moore said. “They can just be a kid while learning and having fun.”

The camp, which launched in 2007, is open to children across the county, Moore said. The staff is made up mostly of volunteers, students 15 and older, who mentor and teach the younger children, who are grouped by age. Daily activities range from gardening to music to sports in the fields behind the club building.

Moore said the camp takes games and turns them into lessons, teaching both academic and life skills. For instance, after playing baseball, the children read from a booklet and then write about what they learned about sportsmanship, leadership and respecting their teammates.

Similarly, the cooking classes focus on how to follow directions and work together. “You’re teaching them skills in a fun way,” Moore said.

With help from the camp’s staff, students also review the reading, writing, social studies and math skills they learned in the prior school year. The aim, Moore said, is for children not to forget what they learned. “We want them to go back to school and still be ready,” she said.

Aniya Pierce, 9, of Selma has been coming to camp for two years. She especially likes the game room, reading books and playing in the pool, which campers visit every Wednesday.

“We do a lot of activities,” Aniya said. “It’s really fun.”

Aniya said she likes learning over her summer vacation and feels more prepared for the next school year. “I know a lot more reading and social studies and stuff like that,” she said.

Quinton Rhue, a rising senior at Princeton High School, enjoys volunteering at the camp. When the campers give him a hard time, he knows where they’re coming from and tells them so. “I used to be the same way, so I just talk to them,” Rhue said. “Everybody needs somebody, and I want to be a role model someday.”

Last week, Makayla Peffly, 10, of Corinth Holders and Arianah Benton, 9, of Selma played a computer game side by side in the computer lab, competing to make the best virtual cupcake. The two said they especially enjoyed making new friends at camp.

Makayla’s favorite part is going to the pool, “mostly because we get to hang out with our friends,” she said.

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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