By Betty Archer Allen
Gulf Breeze Reading Camp was held at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church August 4 through 8. The readers ranged in age from 8 – 10 years old or from third through fifth grades. Campers got 15 hours of extensive reading instruction during the week and spent the afternoons doing fun camp activities like team-building, treasure hunting, arts and crafts and environmental studies. The theme of this year’s camp was “La Florida” based off of Native American and Spanish Conquistadores who visited this area before 1549.
This first Gulf Breeze Reading camp program enrolled 25 campers. Counselors from local schools helped Kilpatrick identify students who could benefit from this camp. Campers rotated through learning centers spending thirty minutes in each center on reading comprehension, creative writing, reading strategies, phonics/encoding/ decoding, pleasure reading, and sight words. The movement through each of these phases was smooth and appeared to be pleasurable to both children and adults.
The atmosphere was filled with enthusiastic learning and achievement.
The primary goals of the camp was to build confidence and meet the needs of the whole child. Summer learning loss affects reading achievement in some students especially if there is no access to summer learning opportunities. Reading Camp works with school personnel, community groups, and families to identify and enroll struggling students into day or residential Reading Camp programs.
Gulf Breeze Reading Camp is the newest member of the Reading Camp Network and the first Diocesan reading camp in Florida. The concept of Reading Camps began in 2002 as an educational (non-religious) ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington and continues to operate under the auspices of the Diocese. The Reading Camp Network (RCN) was formally established in the fall of 2011, when St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bay City, Michigan joined and began planning their first camp program.