For more than 15 years, the ELCA Outreach Center has hosted a summer camp dedicated to providing fun summer activities, field trips and literacy, math and science learning experiences for elementary age children throughout the community.

The Outreach Center and the Kenosha Unified School District have partnered for the past seven years. This partnership has allowed the camp to expand and make it more accessible to a greater number of children.

This year’s camp will take place at Brass Community School starting Monday, June 24, and runs for six weeks from noon to 4 p.m. On a typical day, a large majority of the campers attend summer school at Brass Community School, which includes students from Roosevelt Elementary School and Brass. Last year, campers came from Edward Bain School of Language and Art, Forest Park, Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum, Pleasant Prairie, Southport, Grant, Harvey, Wilson, Vernon and Jefferson elementary schools to attend the camp.

At noon, the summer school children, who also attend camp in the afternoon, eat lunch together. The campers go on field trips to places such as Medieval Times, Lutherdale, Racine Zoo, a Kenosha Kingfish game and the Tall Ships Festival. They also receive swimming lessons at the YMCA each week, play math games with KUSD teachers and have reading days with volunteers from a local employer.

During the math activities, KUSD teachers engage the campers in fun math exercises. Each day, everyone has an opportunity to play outside and participate in team activities such as kickball and capture the flag.

By attending the summer camp, the youth are in a safe environment where they can continue to build on their reading, math and science skills, as well as build social and life skills to help avoid gangs, alcohol and abusive behavior.

The camp has two objectives: the first is to provide a safe, fun learning environment for elementary school children, and the second is to provide important job experiences for high school and college-age youth. One of the largest benefits of hosting the summer camp at Brass Community School is the increase in attendance it has sparked in the summer school program. This is certainly a win/win situation for the children, summer school program and camp.

The camp hires 14 high school students and three college students to lead the camp. Overall, responsibility is with the executive director of the Outreach Center. All the leaders participate in a weeklong training, where they get to know each other, participate in team building activities and develop many of the camp activities and curriculum which the participants will experience.

In the past, there have been several of the camp leaders who had participated in the camp when they were in grade school. This is their first work experience for many of the camp leaders hired.

The summer camp is successful due to many partnerships, such as KUSD, the University of Wisconsin Extension, the YMCA, local churches providing snacks, St. Mary’s Lutheran Church youth group, United Way, Kenosha Community Foundation, Kenosha Parks Alliance, Mary Frost Ashley and the Kenosha Public Library. We extend a great deal of gratitude to all of our community partners who make this amazing learning opportunity possible for the children of our community.

Families interested in having their child participate should visit https://elcaoutreachcenter.org/forms/summer-camp-registration/ to register today.

Karl Erickson is the executive director of the ELCA Outreach Center. Patricia Demos is community school relations coordinator for the Kenosha Unified School District.

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