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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Students gain valuable skills at DC SCORES Soccer & Arts Summer Camp

On a hot June afternoon, counselors and coaches pumped up the 35 elementary and middle school students at Bruce Monroe Elementary School at Parkview.

“When I say DC, you all say SCORES -- DC!”

With that introductory cheer, the 2010 Soccer & Arts Summer Camp was underway. A wide range of students – of various ages, from different parts of the city; DC SCORES newbies and veterans – gathered on the first day of camp to improve their soccer skills, engage their creative side in the classroom, and make new friends. Besides the everyday activities, campers go on weekly field trips and to a local swimming pool, and outside organizations make special visits.

On a “normal” camp day, campers will arrive in the early afternoon and hang out with friends, play board and card games, and prepare for the long day of soccer and learning in one of our designated classroom spaces. Before kids fill up their water battles and head outside to the recreation field, the camp directors lead the group in a teambuilding or icebreaker activity so the campers can get to know each other and feel comfortable spending long afternoons together.

Once they are on the field, the soccer instructor directs the campers in drills, stretches and games. By the end of the first week of camp, many campers were quickly developing into leaders on the field, helping those less skilled with the more difficult drills and leading by example.

This leadership and teamwork translated into the classroom. During the first two weeks of camp, a step dance instructor from Step Afrika came in to prepare the campers for a culminating performance in front of the entire school. Many students were at first hesitant to engage in dance, but by the end of the two weeks these same students were making sure the other campers followed instructions and were among the front row of performers. The step dance show was a hit, and the campers felt a true sense of accomplishment after 10 of hard work.

During the third week, a creative writing specialist from Howard University taught the students how to observe their surroundings, describe their emotions, and write and share stories about their lives. One activity asked the campers to write a story about what they would do if they won a million-dollar lottery. For a culminating presentation, campers shared stories about the successes of camp, what they liked so far and what could be improved upon to help them have the best summer ever.

Last week, the students participated in a series of nutrition workshops with a Nutrition Education volunteer at DC Central Kitchen. Campers learned about the new and improved food pyramid, what exactly a whole grain is, and healthy living activities.

Additionally, over the past four weeks campers visited the White House for the trophy presentation of the Women’s Professional Soccer champions; were filmed playing soccer by a local DC news station; paid a visit to the National Museum of American History; took a guided tour of the Giant Market in Colombia Heights; and enjoyed the interactive Children’s Gallery of Black History presented by M.O.M.I.E’s TLC.

Last Friday, players from the Washington DC Knights, an organized soccer team through Street Soccer USA, visited camp to talk about their lives in homelessness and play soccer with the kids. This weekend, 20 teams will play in the Street Soccer USA Cup held in DC this year, and the campers have been invited to participate in the opening ceremonies. Campers will also have the chance to perform a group poem at halftime of an upcoming Washington Freedom game.

This week at camp, a DC SCORES coach from MacFarland Middle School who is an experienced visual artist is leading workshops, and next week’s activities will be led by DC SCORES staff and volunteer.

Summer camp participants are gaining valuable skills and having meaningful experiences, and it will be a joy to see them continue developing through the end of camp. Hopefully, the interest level in DC SCORES camp amongst a range of kids from schools without the year-long program will give students, parents, and school administrators a taste of what DC SCORES can offer, and help expand the after-school program across the District.

-- Written by Zach Elkin, Elementary School Program Coordinator

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