Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Catholic schools’ summer programs: less than class work, but more than just another day care

Story and photos by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff

(From the July 1, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Left: Sonja Svennugsen helps with a salt dough art project at St. Aloysius School’s summer program. Taste is important, too.

“I get to ride a bus!” squealed a six-year-old girl at Spokane’s Trinity Elementary School. “We’re going to Cat Tails!”

Trinity kicked off its Educare Summer Camp with a bang on June 14 with a week dedicated to “Summer Celebration,” including a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. Children ages 2-12 may participate in the summer fun. Each week has a theme that art, music, and play activities are built around, and each week the kids go on at least one field trip relating to the theme. The schedule includes a week dedicated to “Zoo, Animals & Plants,” “Western Days,” Trinity Olympics,” and “Safety First,” among many others.

“We’re trying to provide structure without structure. We’re very flexible,” said Melinda Cubbage, program supervisor. “But we also try to pick themes with educational components.”

Children at Trinity Summer Camp spend time doing art projects, playing with blocks and trucks, singing songs, playing outside and in the water and building creative projects. Beginning this week, the kids will also participate in weekly swimming lessons.

“Last week they made up their own stories and then built puppets to go along with them,” said Cubbage.

The kids are having a lot of fun, and even the staff is having a good time.

“This is the fourth child care facility I’ve worked in since graduating high school,” said Kelly Magnuson, the teacher for the two-and-a-half to four-year-olds. “This is my favorite job. I think it’s the atmosphere. It’s being in a school instead of a daycare.”

Though the staff works hard to ensure a fun summer for the kids, fun is not their main concern.

“We’re trying to be more than just a place where kids play all the time,” said Cubbage. “We want more for them. We want them to learn Christian values. We want parents to feel that their child is in a safe, Christian environment, and then we want the kids to have a lot of fun.”

Not far away, St. Aloysius School is getting its Summer Day Camp underway, as well. Classrooms and hallways have been redecorated with fun summer themes and the halls echo with the sounds of excited little voices as teachers slather sunscreen on children preparing to go outside and play in the sunshine.

Right: a necklace is created as part of St. Aloysius School’s “Lions, Tigers and Bears, Oh My,” week. (IR photo)

Trinity and St. Aloysius schools in Spokane are committed to beating the summer boredom bug before it even has time to appear. Their Educare programs have been transformed into fun summer day camps, complete with weekly themes, decorations, fun art projects and loads of sunscreen. Both schools’ summer offer a safe environment for children to play and have fun all the while keeping their minds and bodies active and engaged.

St. Aloysius’s program divides its 200 registered children, ages two-and-a-half to 12, into age groups and designs age-appropriate activities around weekly themes. Activities Director Kristy Heaton plans two to three field trips per week relating to the theme. Weekly themes include “Adventures in Art,” “Musical Magic,” ”Science Rocks!,” “Fantastic Fairytales,” and “Around the World in 5 Days.”

“The main thing we’re trying to do is make it fun and not like school,” said Sandra Skeim, the Program Supervisor.

Though they work hard to make activities fun, the staff at St. Aloysius also works to keep the kids’ brains engaged, planning a lot of fun educational activities and field trips.

“We try to keep the big kids interacting with the little kids,” said Heaton. “We might have big kids reading to little kids. That way the big kids feel like leaders, but they’re actually reading the whole summer, too.”

St. Aloysius School also qualified for a free summer hot lunch program that they provide to children in the Summer Camp, as well as the surrounding community at no charge.

“About 25 percent of the kids who eat hot lunch with us are kids from the neighborhood,” said Heaton.

Skeim and Heaton said that what is unique about St. Aloysius’ program is that “you only pay for what you use.” Parents are free to sign their kids up for as little or as much time in the program as they like.

“We have a lot of stay-at-home moms who will come over here at the beginning of the week and look at our activity sheet and then bring their kids by for an hour or two to participate in a particular activity,” said Heaton.

The hours of planning for the summer pays off. Kids at St. Aloysius Summer Day Camp are having fun, as made evident by the excited chatter, laughter and squeals echoing through the hallways.

Trinity’s Summer Camp runs through August 26. For more information about summer plans and program costs, call (509) 327-9159.

St. Aloysius Summer Day Camp runs through August 27. For more information, call (509) 489-7825.

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