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Columbia’s Astro Summer Camp keeps students’ minds, spirits uplifted

Youngsters at the Astro Summer Camp at Columbia Elementary School engage in a building activity. (CONTRIBUTED)
Youngsters at the Astro Summer Camp at Columbia Elementary School engage in a building activity. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Children are honing their computer skills, enjoying field trips, making new acquaintances and renewing old friendships with the Astro Summer Camp at Columbia Elementary School.

Columbia second-grade teacher Donna Smith is coordinating the camp.

“We have more than 200 kids in the program,” Columbia Principal Mark McCrory said. “They go on a field trip every day during the summer, while also using technology here at school each day.”

On an average day, 165 students are attending; 214 children in grades K-6 are enrolled. Many campers also attend the extended-day program at Columbia during the school year.

Fourteen certified teachers and a staff of 43 extended-day workers and college and high school students who have pertinent experience are leading the camp.

Astro Summer Camp “provides an exciting and enriching summer program in a safe and pleasant environment,” Smith said. Their schedule includes bowling on Monday; swimming on Tuesday; inflatable games on Wednesday; skating on Thursday; and swimming on Friday.

At school, campers “have computer and iPad time, art activities, game and gym time,” Smith said. During quiet time, they can read or teachers will read to them.

By 7 a.m., students are arriving, then eating breakfast and exercising in open gym. At 8 a.m., the children divide into grade levels. Each group travels by schedule to sessions for art, computer lab, library, game time and outside/gym play.

Their ‘staycation’ field trips have included Huntsville Botanical Garden and Sci-Quest Hands-on Science Center. Skating and the finale dance party are their favorite weekly adventure.

Astro campers show their dance moves during a field trip to a skating rink. (CONTRIBUTED)
Astro campers show their dance moves during a field trip to a skating rink. (CONTRIBUTED)

“The activity they’ve enjoyed the best this summer has been the Animal Trax presenter David Ballard,” Smith said. “Students learned that exotic pets are cool but require special care,” and pet ownership involves responsibility for them.

Rezoning has allowed students to visit with old friends and make new ones, she said.

In August, Smith will return to her second-grade classroom.  “It is always exciting to start another year of school,” she said.

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