SILVER SPRING—This summer, East Silver Spring Elementary School and Montgomery County Department of Recreation have teamed up to offer a for students in grades one through eight.
The camp, called Fun, Food & Fitness, offers an opportunity for school-aged children to participate in summer fun. Activities include arts and crafts, sports, games and scavenger hunts, among others.
East Silver Spring Principal Michael Burd explained that this is the first time the school has hosted a summer camp like this one. Most of the heavy lifting, though, comes from the recreation department, he said.
Montgomery County Department of Recreation coordinates volunteers sends staff to run the camp and provides resources such as food and activities for the kids, according to Burd.
“We basically just provide the facility,” he said.
The school also provides two meals to the students, breakfast and lunch.
“Initially, we thought it would just be one meal, but here we are on day one with two,” Burd said.
Breakfast service is also available to young people who are not participating in the camp, as long as they are younger than 18. This service is offered through the Summer Meals Program, which is organized and implemented by Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS.) There are a total of 12 school sites listed through MCPS that offer breakfast or lunch during the work week.
The Fun, Food & Fitness camp at East Silver Spring Elementary School opened on July 1. Burd estimated that about 60 students showed up on the first day to participate in get-to-know-you games and become comfortable with the staff.
“I think parents think of it less as a daycare and more of ‘what neat things does my child get to do this summer,’” Burd said.
The camp is run with parent volunteers and interns like Bibi Kaniz, who also has kids that attend the camp.
“This summer I started working as a leadership intern in order to serve my community and learn something new. As an intern I was assigned to help with the kindergarteners,” Kaniz said. “The (campers) are assigned different activities to keep them active and busy.”
Kaniz explained that camps like these are a great resource for low-income families.
“These types of camps have significant positive impacts on low-income parents and parents who don’t have an education,” she said. “It allows parents to go to work, and it also helps students to learn new things as well as have fun.”
Summer camps can be expensive, and are often inaccessible to low-income families, Kaniz said.
“It is very difficult for low-income families to send their kids to any kind of camp due to the cost. But I think this summer camp helped a lot of parents to benefit from this opportunity,” she said.
Kaniz said that in the future she would like to see the camp offered for the full day.
Burd explained that Dr. John Seelke, who is a parent of students who go to East Silver Spring Elementary School was the driving force behind the camp.
To get the word out about the new summer camp at East Silver Spring, Burd said the school sent out flyers on the camp’s offerings. Information was also available on the school website and through emails sent to the families.
Burd said that summer camps like this one can help students stay on track academically.
“We know that a lot gets lost during summer break in between school years,” Burd said. “There are a few sites in Montgomery County that are operating under an innovative school calendar, but summer camps like this one help to continue the consistency of learning.”
In the fall, it can be a difficult transition to get students back into the swing of learning, Burd said. However, with educational camps like the one at East Silver Spring Elementary School, “it’s like we never stopped learning,” he said.
Burd said that he hopes to continue hosting the summer camp in future years and even offer a full day.
“As with everything we do, we’ll evaluate the summer camp here, but it looks like the kids are having a good time so far,” he said. “We’ll be trying to reach out to the community to create a full-day camp in the future, so fingers crossed.”