ROCHESTER — As a series of little legs churned along a Charlotte sidewalk toward Ontario Beach Park, one youngster wanted to know why participants in Holy Cross School’s Summer Adventure day camp were not riding a bus.
Aileen DiPonzio took the question in stride, so to speak.
“We’re not taking a bus to the beach because we’re lucky; we can walk to it,” said DiPonzio, who is one of the staff members running the Summer Adventure camp, which concludes Aug. 15.
The Holy Cross camp is one of several day camps that are being run at Catholic schools in the diocese over the summer.
Several other schools also host camps during the summer months. Those include All Saints Academy in Corning, which has a Summer Stay and Play open to all students of the school. Immaculate Conception in Ithaca has a six-week summer camp, and each day includes swimming at an area pool, a weekly trip to the library, games, activities and field trips around town. Holy Family Summer Camp in Elmira offers arts and crafts, food preparation and other activities along such themes as Surf’s Up and Community Helpers.
The camps serve several purposes, according to parents and educators: They help provide enrichment and experiential learning for students over the summer break, and they may help prevent academic backsliding during the summer months. Several camps also offer before- or after-care for students whose parents work outside of the home. Several of the camps also are open to students who are not enrolled in Catholic schools, which may help to introduce the schools to such families.
Ann Connolly, public relations and marketing coordinator for Holy Family, said the Elmira school opened its summer camp three years ago to help pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade students continue to learn throughout the summer.
“It was our principal’s idea,” Connolly said. “She thought it would be a great opportunity for our students and students in the community to experience Holy Family.”
Holy Cross’ Principal Mary Martell, who was previously preschool director, said the summer program started after the elementary school was closed in 2008. Parents of preschoolers asked for the camp because they were looking for child-care options over the summer and activities for their older children as well. When the elementary school reopened in 2011, the summer camp program continued. Staff members who work at the school run the summer program.
“We did open it up to ages 3 to 11 because parents asked if siblings could come,” Martell said. “We try to make sure all of the activities are appropriate for everyone.”
Taking a short walk from Holy Cross School to Ontario Beach Park in Charlotte is just one of the many all-ages activities that the camp has offered this summer. Each week includes a trip to the beach and the library. Other activities are planned around weekly themes: Out of the Box; Lego My Eggo; Mermaids, Pirates and Ninjas, Oh MY!; Masterpiece Theater; Monsters, Etc.; and Camp Wanna Laffa Lotta.
“We are doing all fun things,” DiPonzio said. “They love it. We are keeping them busy every day.”
Other trips have included visiting the Coast Guard, area parks and the Charlotte Lighthouse, which is located in the parking lot of the school. Campers go to area restaurants, a spray park, the zoo, a dojo and a dance studio, area parks, the movies, and the Erie Canal. The camp also hosts such guests as a magician and a reptile handler.
“We do lots of those kinds of learning activities, and kids think it’s fun,” Martell said.
Parent Kelly Goodwin of Greece said one of the best things about the camp is the mix of activities it offers.
“I’m so impressed with this camp,” said Goodwin, a Holy Cross parishioner. “All the field trips they do are very educational.”
Corey Goodwin, 5, who will enter first grade at Holy Cross in September, said his favorite thing about camp was to go to the beach to play on the playground.
Alec Lukus, 12, a student at Dake Elementary and a Holy Cross parishioner, said one of the best parts of the camp is all the field trips.
“At camp, you have more fun than school,” Lukus said. “You have more fun, but you still learn.”
“I like that you go places,” said Allison Bourgeois, 9, who attends Lake Shore Elementary School in Greece. “It’s not just one place the whole summer.”Tags: Catholic Schools