Fort McCoy News Aug. 26, 2016

SAC/YC summer camp ends, school-year plan unfurls

BY AIMEE MALONE
Public Affairs Staff

Summer camp is wrapping up at Fort McCoy's School-Age Center/Youth Center (SAC/YC), and preparations are underway for the 2016-2017 school year.

Summer camp has been a big success, said SAC/YC Director Cori Yahnke. Activities were organized based on weekly themes, such as Lego Week, Young Chefs Week, and Survivor Week.

"Carnival Week was full of fun art projects and games," Yahnke said. "Face painting also was a big hit."

SAC/YC Assistant Director Megan Browning works with teen summer campers. She said the teens most enjoyed the chance to see what their Family members and other Soldiers get to do at work.

Children practice ball-handling during basketball camp Aug. 2 at the Fort McCoy School-Age Center/Youth Center.
Children practice ball-handling during basketball camp Aug. 2 at the
Fort McCoy School-Age Center/Youth Center. Basketball camp was one
of many themed activities planned for school-age youth during the Child,
Youth and School Services' summer camp.
Photo by Aimee Malone

"Our most successful week this summer was the basic training week," Browning said. "We got to go all over post and use the simulators that the Soldiers get to use. … The youth said they really enjoyed this week and would like to see it happen again."

Younger students especially enjoyed Winnebago Wednesdays, weekly gatherings at Tomah's Winnebago Park organized by The Parenting Place.

"There's usually an educational activity at the park, and then the children play at the playground," Yahnke said. Some of the campers' favorites were the petting zoo and transportation week, which featured police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances.

Older campers also had chances to travel, Yahnke said, taking trips to the Dahl Auto Museum in La Crosse, Western Technical College in La Crosse, and other locations. Campers of all ages took trips to locations on Fort McCoy, including the beach at Pine View Campground, the pool at Rumpel Fitness Center, and the bowling alley at McCoy's Community Center.

The children enjoy the variety of trips, Yahnke said, and summer camp offers something for everyone.

"Summer camp is a lot of fun for so many reasons," said Fort McCoy Family member Addison Alvarado. "We go on lots of field trips, do a bunch of awesome clubs, and we have super-duper staff."

"I really like bowling at McCoy's and going to the computer lab, but most of all I like Winnebago Wednesdays," said Fort McCoy Family member Ben Dubois.

In addition to themed weeks and special trips, campers enjoyed the many daily activities available at the SAC/YC.
"Science projects have been big this summer," Yahnke said. Art-room activities, such as fuse beads and rubber-band looms, also have been popular.

Child and Youth Program Assistant Kala Lindley said she and her campers liked to enjoy the outdoors, even when they stayed close to the SAC/YC.

Children prepare raised garden beds in June at the Fort McCoy School-Age Center/Youth Center.
Children prepare raised garden beds in June at the Fort McCoy School-
Age Center/Youth Center. Youth attending the Child, Youth and School
Services' summer camp had the chance to participate in many daily
activities and special events.
Contributed photo

"I really enjoy interacting with the youth in activities that get us outdoors or moving," Lindley said. "The youth and I especially enjoyed our regular Tuesday morning nature walks."

The 2016 summer camp was the second in the new SAC/YC. Yahnke said the campers are enjoying the new facilities, especially the kitchen, art room, and gymnasium.

"They've done a lot of cooking activities," Yahnke said. "The Adventure (elementary school-age) youth have really enjoyed their weekly cooking clubs and making snacks for their group."

Lindley also said her group of campers enjoyed cooking for their friends. She said the experience taught the children a lot.

"The third through fifth graders did a wonderful job leading our Adventure Cooking Club this summer," Lindley said. "Every Wednesday morning, they were given a different recipe that they were required to cooperatively make with their peers. This was a wonderful life-skill activity that allowed them to be hands-on and gain experience with various kitchen appliances and ingredients."

Teen campers also enjoyed using the learning kitchen, Yahnke said.

"The teens had a cupcake-decorating contest similar to the show 'Cupcake Wars.' The big event was when they got to make dinner for their parents," she said. Parents were served an appetizer and salad and had a choice of entrees and desserts.

"The teens put in a lot of hard work prepping food and making decorations for the event," Yahnke said.

The gymnasium provides a place for exercise classes and to work off energy when the weather won't allow youth to go outside, Yahnke said.

"Even when it's raining or it's really hot, they still have somewhere they can do all their active games," she said.

Browning said she likes the specially designated areas for teens in the new facility.

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"The supplies in the room are amazing, and we enjoy getting to use them," Browning said. "The patio outside the teen room is very nice to utilize in the cooler weather — especially spring and fall. The teens can be found out there doing homework, relaxing, or playing pool."

As summer camp wraps up, staff members and students are gearing up for the After-School Program, which starts Sept. 1.

SAC/YC staff members pick up students at Tomah and Sparta schools and bus them back to the facility. Students are offered a snack and may participate in a variety of clubs, such as nature club, science club, art club, technology club, and many more. Students also are encouraged to participate in the Power Hour Homework Room.

"It's a Boys & Girls Club incentive program, so you get points for completing your homework or reading, and then you earn prizes," Yahnke said. "It just encourages them to work on their schoolwork."

Homework help is available daily for students in all grades.

While there are fees for elementary students, the After-School Program is free for students in sixth through 12th grades. Yahnke said the SAC/YC offers a safe place to socialize and hang out. Care also is available for scheduled days off or school cancellations due to inclement weather, excluding federal holidays.

For information about program eligibility, costs, and other youth services, call Child, Youth and School Services Parent Central Services at 608-388-8956.