“This summer was our best ever!” exclaimed Willa Walker, one of the three retired teachers who coordinated eight weeks of activities for the twenty-five children who attended summer camp at Thea Bowman Center. “The children seemed more involved in the programs,” continued Ms. Walker. “Kids learn a lot from the organized activities, and we made sure it was fun.”
Executive Director Ella Thomas agreed. “We stress positive social interactions, teamwork, respect for each other, and the importance of learning new information and skills.” Campers from 5 to 13 years of age participated in arts and crafts, wood working, field trips, outdoor activities, and even music and Kung Fu programs. “They especially loved the field trip to RollHouse Entertainment in Solon,” said Ms. Thomas. “Many had never gone bowling. Glenn Gable (owner of RollHouse) provided food and fun that they will never forget. One of the girls cried when we left.”
Through Kids 2 Kids, introduced to Thea Bowman Center by volunteer Susan Cheshire, campers shared activities and worked on three projects with Solon students. Along with other sponsors, Kids 2 Kids provided a number of camper scholarships, which gave more children the opportunity to attend. “It’s so important for the children to have something to do during the summer,” said Ms. Walker.
Camp Director, Sylvia Little-Harris, was assisted by the retired teachers, four teenagers from the community, who were supported by Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU), and two Vista workers. Summer music and Kung Fu classes were taught by instructors who teach in an afterschool Thea Bowman Center- sponsored program at Nathan Hale School.
Facility Management Coordinator, Ed Caffey, and volunteer Bob Schiele, oversaw woodworking and other creative projects where campers learned to turn ideas into reality. Both men were amazed by the ideas the children came up with.
Camp wrapped up with an Intergenerational Picnic, where Thea Bowman Center seniors shared a day of fun and food with the campers and their families at Garfield Park Reservation. Children and families, 90% of whom live in Mt. Pleasant loved the picnic and the camp experience. However, the most vocal supporter was a young camper from Euclid, who said, “I woke up my mom early every day to make sure I arrived at camp on time!”