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Fast-growing summer programs offers camps to suit every fancy Kathy McPherson

B Y K AT H Y M C P H E R S O N , A S S O C I AT E D I R E C T O R O F CO M M U N I C AT I O N S

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ABOVE: Technology camps are always popular at DA Summer Programs.

ant to learn about song-writing or being a DJ? Durham Academy’s got camps for that. Does your child like making doll clothes or other arts activities? DA’s got camps for that. Is chess or technology what excites your son or daughter? DA’s got camps for that. Interested in volleyball, golf, swimming, basketball, slacklining or almost any other sport? DA’s got camps for that. Want to learn a new language or need a boost with academics? DA has camps for that, too. DA Summer Programs will offer 187 halfday camps from June 9 to July 25, with offerings for 3-year-olds to high school seniors. For the littlest ones, there is “All about Me: I’m Three,” and at the other end of the age range, there are SAT prep camps. Enrichment camps are offered on a weekly basis, with academic camps running for six weeks. This summer’s lineup includes 165 enrichment camps and 22 academic camps. New this year is a week-long “Research and Information Literacy” enrichment camp taught by DA librarian Shannon Harris and assistant librarian Emily Harkey for rising ninth-graders. It will be the first camp to offer academic credit. The camp covers information taught during the school year to DA ninth-graders, so students who take the summer camp will have an additional free period during the school year. “We’ve got almost any kind of camp. Any kid will find something they enjoy,” said Dan Gilson, director of DA Summer Programs and director of DA’s Extended Day program during the school year. Durham Academy has been offering summer camps and classes for more than 30

years, with the program growing tremendously in recent years. Gilson said Summer Programs drew 847 campers last summer, an increase of 150 campers from summer 2012. Growth is likely to continue, with 18 additional camps offered for summer 2014. The 2014 Summer Programs website, www.da.org/summer, has been online since December, and registration for camps opened in early January. Morning camps run from 9 a.m. to noon, and afternoon camps from 1 to 4 p.m. A supervised lunch period is included when campers are registered for both morning and afternoon sessions. In addition, before care is offered from 7:45 to 9 a.m. and after care from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Summer Programs draws families who may not otherwise set foot on campus, as well as those who are part of the DA community. “We have kids coming from Korea for our summer programs, and a girl from Saudi Arabia attended camp while her brother was receiving medical treatment at Duke,” Gilson said. He believes coming to summer camp is especially helpful to children who will be new to DA in the fall. “They get familiar with the campus, know where the bathrooms are, meet other kids,” Gilson explained. “They play here, have fun here. It makes a difference.” Kara Henderson-Jeffries sent her son, P.J., to DA Summer Programs before he began Pre-K in 2011. “It was a great way to transition him, get him accustomed to the school and get to know some of the teachers — and he loved it,” she said. “It was so convenient; I signed up online, the offerings were great and I felt it was on the

cutting edge with Lego camps and technology camps.” This past summer, Henderson-Jeffries sent P.J.; younger son, Parker, who was entering Pre-K; and two nieces who were visiting from Toronto and Chicago to DA Summer Programs. She has also used Summer Programs to “bridge the gap — to keep P.J. from losing skills he learned during the school year and get him ready for the next year. P.J. went to summer math camp with Jessica Soler. When school started, she was his teaching assistant for first grade, and he already knew her.” Summer Programs also is a way for families to become interested in DA. “We have kids who come to camp and then apply to DA the following year,” Gilson said. He believes a sense of community is an important part of DA Summer Programs. Kids aren’t segmented into “their” particular camp, but have an opportunity to spend time with other campers. “Our teachers know each other and they interact,” he said. “A P.E. camp may play a dodge ball game against a drama camp. These are connections that bring a sense of community to camp. Kids from different camps mix during the camp day on the playground and in before care and after care. During recess campers might watch an egg drop or robot racing.” “Our Summer Programs offer low-risk, accessible opportunities for community members to dip their toes in the culture at Durham Academy,” said Head of School Michael Ulku-Steiner. “They also offer our faculty some fresh chances to teach precisely what they love to students they may not see during the school year. “I also like that Summer Programs makes good use of facilities that would otherwise go unused during the summer. This is an aspect of sustainability and equity that we might overlook. Our terrific campus ought to be used for learning — by as many students as possible, whenever we can make it happen!”

DURHAM ACADEMY RECORD | WINTER 2014 | WWW.DA.ORG

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The Record (Winter 2014)  

The Record is Durham Academy’s biannual magazine.