On the afternoon of February 4, Camp War Eagle and The Jones Center opened the doors to a bus full of excited, chattering children. How is this any different from a normal week? These children were the first participants of the newly opened Camp War Eagle After School Program (ASP).
Each week, 52 1st-5th graders from Jones Elementary School leave their campus on a school bus and head for The Jones Center. Upon arrival, students are greeted by energetic staff, many of whom have ties to the Camp War Eagle family, whether having been summer counselors or current volunteers with the year round program. Backpacks and jackets bearing the image of Hello Kitty, charismatic cartoon cars and others are hung on hooks as students line up to enter the ASP space. After a nutritious snack, groups assemble for their first rotation. On a given day, one of the three groups may participate in a variety of exciting activities. In the gym, students engage in recreation with new games like freeze tag, helicopter or basketball bowling all purposed to encourage an active lifestyle and teamwork. In the learning center, the staff read stories to the students, assist with homework and host fun, educational activities. Recently, students celebrated the week of Presidents Day by reading the biography of Abraham Lincoln and writing letters to our current president. The crafts room teaches fun and useful crafts each week to stretch the creativity of each kid. The game room hosts a “game of the day” like Uno, musical chairs or Carpetball. This is a wonderful chance for kids to interact with one another constructively. Additionally, to improve their reading comprehension, the students are required to read the rules of the game aloud and then help explain them to one another. The playground is another opportunity for student to engage in healthy peer interaction outside of a classroom. Each group rotates through multiple stations daily, building a pleasant mix of learning, recreation and creative fun into each child’s schedule. Each day ends with a time of focus on the Camp War Eagle Core Values taught through entertaining stories. Through a fun narrative storybook or skit the staff encourage the students to develop integrity in every area of life.
Parents of the children taking part in the after school program have appreciated the program as well, stating, “I like that he gets to spend time with other kids outside of school, he usually just goes home and sits in front of the television playing video games.” Also, “I know his mother really loves the After School Program because her work hours are later. It works out perfectly.”
Amazing Camp War Eagle is excited to be in collaboration with The Jones Center and Jones Elementary to provide this fantastic resource to kids and families in east Springdale. We hope this is only the beginning of lasting relationships and personal development for these wonderful students.