Kids on Campus, a College of Health Sciences and Professions initiative, is proud to announce a new partnership with the Beacon School to provide a joint summer camp program for children in Athens and Perry counties for summer 2017.
For more than 20 years, Kids on Campus has offered a free summer camp program for area children. The program includes both fun and educational activities, as well as field trips and food for the kids. Lasting five weeks, the summer program is a full summer camp experience for children and a great resource for the community. Parents and guardians can feel at ease knowing their children are participating in fun, supervised activities and receiving free meals while school is out of session.
The Beacon School, an educational facility under the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities, provides schooling for area children who have developmental disabilities. The Beacon School does offer a summer camp program for students, but the partnership with Kids on Campus will permit a longer, enhanced camp experience.
The 2017 Kids on Campus Summer Camp will include a fully integrated partnership program with the Beacon School. All of the children participating in this year’s camp will be divided into two integrated groups: one group will stay in the normal location on Ohio University’s campus, and the other group will go to the Beacon School.
“The partnership is really great, because the Beacon School has opened the entire building to us,” said Jo Ellen Sherow, program manager of Kids on Campus. “We get to use their pool, their playground and their resources, which is wonderful. I don’t know if they know it, but the kids that get to go there have an added bonus…because there is a pool, they might get to swim more!”
All of the children will be together multiple times during the summer as well, including two field days (one at Ohio University, one at the Beacon School) and during field trips.
The partnership is long overdue according to the Kids on Campus team. While the joint summer camp is currently only confirmed for this summer, both Kids on Campus and the Beacon School hope to find more funding to continue the partnership for future summers.
“We serve so many populations in the county, this seemed like a pretty big omission,” Sherow said. “Some of Beacon’s students have come to our summer camp in the past, but this just gives an opportunity for the students who maybe couldn’t physically or emotionally navigate such a big space to join with us.”
The partnership has numerous benefits for community children, but it also provides incredible opportunities and experiences for students and community members who work or volunteer at the summer camp.
“If you like to work with kids, summer camp is pretty fun!” said Amanda Brooks, assistant program manager for Kids on Campus. “You get to swim and play basketball with them, and if they go on a field trip you get to go. You are supervising the kids, but if you want to work with children, summer camp is a super fun and engaging way to do that.
“The Beacon partnership then just adds another group of children that you learn how to interact with, and you learn to address and work through the needs they have and challenges they put forward. You will be learning how to make the camp as accessible and integrated as possible.”
The joint partnership offers many children in the community the chance to become comfortable in different settings, such as a college campus.
“Anytime they get to engage in a facility or site, those children will no longer see that site as something unfamiliar,” Sherow said. “Oftentimes, these kids have not had the experience of setting foot on a college campus. During summer camp, they don’t just set foot on a college campus — they exist on our college campus for five weeks.”
Ultimately, the integrated summer camp will allow children to interact with a diverse group of other children, offering kids the chance to break down stereotypes and gain rewarding friendships.
“They get to meet kids from different backgrounds, experiences — and now with Beacon —different ability levels,” Brooks said. “It just normalizes that for them, so you head them off at the pass as far as stereotypes or barriers.”
The 2017 summer camp offers two sessions. The first session is Monday, June 19 - Friday, June 30. The second session is Monday, July 10 - Friday, July 28.
For more information about Kids on Campus, including summer camp employment and volunteer applications, visit www.ohio.edu/kids.
For more information about the Beacon School visit http://athenscbdd.org/services-for-children/beacon-school-age/.