Fort McCoy News July 25, 2014

Camp offers youth a 'full schedule' of learning, fun

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy's School Age Center/Youth Center (SAC/YC) Summer Camp started in June and continues through August, and every day of the camp is "filled with fun activities."

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Several children participating in Fort McCoy's School Age Center/Youth Center Summer Camp gather for lunch.

"This year's Summer Camp has been going really well," said SAC/YC Director Cori Yahnke. "We have a lot of new staff this year who are working hard to make sure the 50 to 60 children who attend each day enjoy their time here."

During Summer Camp, youth are at the SAC/YC five days a week.

"As part of our partnership with other DFMWR (Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation) facilities, we travel to a number of places," Yahnke said.

According to the summer camp guidelines, the camp is set up by the week, so parents don't have to sign their child up for the entire summer. They can choose the weeks in which they wanted to participate. Hours for summer camp are from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"No matter how long the children are here, they seem to be enjoying all the activities we have to offer," Yahnke said.

Functional Technology Specialist Dustin Lakowske, who's in his eighth year at the SAC/YC, said the 2014 edition of Summer Camp is offering several new activities, to include a tennis, dance and Lego clubs. New science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities that include rockets, weather experiments and solar cars also are offered.

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Children in the Summer Camp participate in a bowling session at McCoy's Community Club.

"We've also included a stronger emphasis on participation in the Department of Defense (DOD) Summer Reading Program," Lakowske said.

The tennis club (called the U.S. Tennis Association Kids Tennis Club), has a strong emphasis because it can be implemented into the SA/YC program, he added.

The DOD Summer Reading Program allows participants to earn prizes for their effort, Lakowske said.

The reading rewards are earned by the number of minutes a participant reads, Lakowske said. "On average, they will spend up to 30 minutes reading each day they are here."

Each week of the Summer Camp also is assigned a theme, such as "Blast into Summer," "Space Camp," "Around the World," and "Superheroes."

Weekly activities to follow with the theme, Lakowske said. "From STEM to basic activities, the children seem to enjoy the diversity of all the activities we've offered based on those themes."

Yahnke said the youth participating in the Summer Camp continue to learn new things.

"The camp is a fun way for them to spend their summer and they don't even realize they are learning at the same time," Yahnke said. "Additionally, by having them with us, their parents can be assured their children are spending their time in a safe and constructive environment."

In addition to the in-center and new activities, children attending Summer Camp also have swam at the Rumpel Fitness Center, bowled at McCoy's Community Club Bowling Center, and even visited nursing homes.

"During Summer Camp, there is so much more we are able to do with the children here for a full day," Lakowske said. "That's why I like the Summer Camp — it offers so much for these children, and you get to see them grow as the summer progresses."

Yahnke agreed. "The Summer Camp offers a lot more flexibility, which, in turn, translates to more activities for the children," she said.

No matter the program, club or activity or time of year, Yahnke said there are always things for youth to do at the SAC/YC.

"I encourage parents to stop by and see what we have to offer," Yahnke said. "Whether it's our activities during the school year or during the summer with Summer Camp, we are here to support the needs of our post community's children and their Families."

For more information on youth programs at Fort McCoy, call the SAC/YC at 608-388-4373.