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Monday, July 11, 2011

African drumming, pool time and soccer: Soccer & Arts camp is in full swing

Written by Avery Lord
DC SCORES intern and camp counselor

DC SCORES Soccer & Arts camp has been underway for two weeks at H.D. Cooke Elementary School, and more than 40 kids have shown off their diverse talents in the arts and on the soccer field.

Each morning, campers congregate in the gym, some coming from morning summer school and others from home. We then split up into our teams (red, orange, green and blue) and prepare to play team activities/board games or go to the art room.

If I’ve learned one thing in the past two weeks, it’s that you can’t beat a 10-year-old in the game of Memory (or at least I can’t!).

During the first week, MacFarland Middle School writing coach Ms. Blackwell led art projects in which campers described themselves through words and images. Campers then joined together to make a poster describing their week at camp. The orange and green team’s poster depicted campers playing on a soccer field surrounded by words such as “fun,” “respect,” “awesome” and “unstoppable.”

Last week at camp, we switched it up from visual art to music and campers learned about West African music through African drumming lessons. They all had the chance to play the drums while also learning a song in Susu, the native language of Guinea.

Toward the end of the week, campers that were skeptical of singing out loud earlier in the week had the “Kuku Way” song stuck in their heads. On Friday, the orange and red teams performed for the camera to make a YouTube music video (coming soon!) of the drumming and singing.

Although campers really enjoyed the art projects and drumming, daily afternoon soccer practice was the favorite part of the day for the majority.

“Because it’s fun,” 7-year-old Yao said. “Because it’s soccer.”

Yao’s answer points to why we incorporate soccer into everything DC SCORES. It is such an inherently fun and simple sport that, with just a ball and two goals, can simultaneously entertain, create a team atmosphere and provide important physical exercise for kids when they might otherwise be sedentary at home during the summer.

“Because it’s fun, athletic and it makes me stay healthy,” 9-year-old Justin C. said of his love for the game.

Campers enjoyed weekly games of World Cup, Power Finesse and full team scrimmages in which they split up into their team colors and played it out for the championship.

Weekly field trips to the public pool were also necessary to release some energy in the water and get out of the mid-90 degree DC summer heat! The blue and green teams also took a field trip to 826DC, where they got to write their own endings to a story and print out their personalized books!

One thing that really caught my attention as a coach was the number of kids attending summer school at H.D. Cooke who came up to talk to me upon seeing my DC SCORES T-shirt. I had countless kids tell me they were in DC SCORES during the school year and ask how they could come to camp and/or sign up for programming this fall — already!

Talking to campers was a testament to the positive image DC SCORES has gained among young District students. Working at summer camp has been such an amazing and rewarding experience. And it wouldn’t be possible without our Summer Youth Employment Program volunteer coaches as well as H.D. Cooke for allowing DC SCORES to use its facilities.

Note: There are still four weeks left of Soccer & Arts camp. During the next month, DC SCORES will have a “Summer Camp Reporter” on hand at H.D. Cooke twice a week so that we can tell you, first-hand, about the enriching, energizing activities campers are engaging in.

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