GRACE: Gold Summer Camp opens this year for children in Green Bay area
Registration starts Feb. 23 for the six-week program for kids ages 3 through those going into ninth grade. The camp features age-specific and hands-on classes to help foster academic and social skills in a fun, faith-based environment during summer break.
Summertime and playtime often go hand in hand for children. A new program being rolled out by the Green Bay Area Catholic Education school system (GRACE) this year will give kids plenty of fun while stimulating them intellectually, socially and spiritually when school is out for the summer.
Registration opens Friday, Feb. 23, for the GRACE: Gold Summer Camp. The six-week program, which will run July 9-Aug. 17 at Father Allouez Catholic Middle School (Resurrection campus), is open to students in the Green Bay area from ages 3 through those going into ninth grade. The camp is being offered as a half- and full-day program with hands-on classes and faith integration.
“We are looking to fulfill a unique need in the community,” said Laura Blicharz, the GRACE curriculum coordinator and director of the GRACE: Gold program. “There aren’t a lot of extended summer school programs in our community that are faith-based and help educate the whole child.”
Parents will be able to rest assured their children are engaged as learners amid extended downtime from school, when the “summer slide” can creep in for students with their retention of academic skills after the school year. The interactive curriculum for GRACE: Gold is designed to channel and hone kids’ knowledge through exploration, creativity and movement in weekly courses tailored to grade levels and student interests.
Children can be enrolled in as many of the six weeks that GRACE: Gold is in session. They will have their pick of more than 25 courses in literacy, math, science, foreign languages, athletics, and the performing, visual and culinary arts – all with a faith component. All classes will be held at Father Allouez Catholic Middle School (Resurrection campus) and instructed by GRACE teachers and staff. Extended care for students will be available on site — before and after classes in the morning and afternoon.
“We are excited to announce the beginning of our newest adventure, GRACE: Gold Summer Camp,” said Kimberly Desotell, president of GRACE. “The hands-on summer program will enrich the spiritual life of the young participants and grow their academic and social skills in fun, innovative classes. We invite all children in Greater Green Bay, from early childhood to those getting ready to start high school and regardless of faith, to join us in what promises to be a uniquely educational and motivational summer experience.”
How the Camp Works
Starting Feb. 23, online registration for GRACE: Gold is available at gracesystem.org. The enrollment fee for this year’s summer camp is $25 per family. Parents then will be able to select from a weekly schedule of grade-level-appropriate courses for each child. The fees for a one-week course are $150 full day and $75 half day.
“Parents have the flexibility to decide how often to enroll their kids in the camp, from the number of weeks to the duration of their day in a particular week,” Blicharz said.
Each class will be capped at 15 or 20 students. The courses are grouped in four different grade bands: Early Childhood, ages 3 and 4; Primary, for kids entering kindergarten through grade 2; Intermediate, for kids entering grades 3 to 5; and Middle, for kids entering grades 6 to 9.
Courses offered in the morning session from 8-11 a.m. will be different from those offered in the afternoon session from noon-3 p.m. So, students would have the opportunity to attend GRACE: Gold for a full day by being enrolled in morning and afternoon classes. The exception is Early Childhood classes, which won’t be held in the afternoon.
Examples of the age- and developmental-specific classes that will be offered the first year of the summer camp include:
- “Getting Ready for Kindergarten” for those in Early Childhood, with games and activities that focus on basic learning skills
- “Creatures of God’s Earth” for those in Primary, with lessons on different parts of the Earth and the animals that live on the planet along with STEM activities
- “Author Adventures” for those in Intermediate, with the reading of stories and the opportunity to brainstorm story ideas, write book chapters and create illustrations.
- “Musical Theatre Pros” and “Summer on Stage” for those in Middle, with opportunities to prepare and perform scenes from musical theatre on stage and audition for roles, write a script, create sets and costumes and put on a performance.
- “Farm to Table” for those in Middle, with hands-on lessons on making simple, healthy snacks and small meals and an end-of-the-week cookoff.
Bridging the morning and afternoon sessions will be Discovery Time from 11 a.m.-noon. Students who are taking a break between sessions or arriving early for their afternoon class can eat lunch they bring from home. Mass for all campers will be held during this time once a week. The other days will feature activities, presentations and guest speakers from the community.
Flexibility for Families
Besides the enrollment options, the GRACE: Gold Summer Camp accommodates families with extended care.
Before-school care will be available from 7-8 a.m. daily for students in a morning course. After-school care will be available from 3-5 p.m. daily for students in an afternoon class. Daily fees will be charged for the extended care, in addition to the summer camp registration and course fees.
When an exploratory committee of GRACE administrators, teachers, trustees and parents made a recommendation last year to offer summer programming for the first time, they purposely suggested waiting until after the Fourth of July to start the camp.
“Local families have many options early in the summer to place their kids in activities and programs,” Blicharz explained. “Parents are looking for something for their kids to do in July and August. With our summer camp, we will be filling a gap to allow children to stay active with their peers, have fun and extend their learning in those remaining weeks before the start of the next school year.”
Opportunities are available for Green Bay area businesses, organizations and individuals to sponsor the GRACE: Gold Summer Camp with financial and in-kind donations.
“Our goal is to involve the community, including the businesses and organization leaders that we see growing in the Green Bay area. We want to feature them in our summer camp,” Blicharz said.
GRACE plans to recognize the sponsors in its communications, marketing and other initiatives for the camp. Sponsors also could have their names linked to camp courses, such as a cooking class, and they would be invited to speak or give a presentation to campers during the daily Discovery Time.