Ravenna ‘Ready, Set, Imagine’ summer camp focuses on fun and learning | Grand Island Local News
RAVENNA – Sarah Birkby loves when kids tell her they’re bored.
“Great! I can’t wait to see what you do,” is Birkby’s response when she hears this common phrase.
Birkby is a mother of three young boys and has run her own daycare center in Ravenna for over 10 years. For Birkby, being around children is all she’s really known. She grew up with eight siblings and her mother was a childminder for over 30 years.
Birkby’s mother used a Montessori method of education in her daycare, which helps children develop natural interests and activities rather than using formal teaching methods. Birkby adopted a similar learning style at home and daycare. She has always wanted to have a day camp for elementary school children that emphasizes learning through play.
She talked about her idea with Ravenna kindergarten teacher Caley Mingus, and they took the plunge to launch Ready, Set, Imagine camp this summer in Birkby’s large backyard in Ravenna.
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The duo held camp for two weeks in June. The first week, they worked with 14 students from kindergarten to grade 2, and the second week, 11 students from third to sixth grade participated.
Birkby and Mingus had no particular theme for their camps; they provided the supplies and let the kids use their imaginations. Kids had a choice of playing with things like shaving cream, cornstarch, vinegar, baking soda, water beads, shampoo, chalk, and craft supplies.
“It gives kids the freedom to use their imaginations without that adult direction. It’s allowing them to use their imagination. Here is my material. Here is what you have. They know that as long as you don’t hurt anything or anyone, it’s a free game,” Birkby explained.
On the last day of camp, the kids used shower curtains to create their own slip and slide. Another group of children crammed into a kiddie pool filled with water and shampoo. They used a shop vacuum to blow air into the pool, creating a volcanic eruption of bubbles.
When a contestant told Birkby he didn’t have a bathing suit, she let him know there was nothing to worry about.
” Its good. You’re washable, she told him as he went to play in the water.
While kids are having fun and wreaking havoc, they’re also learning valuable camp skills.
“A big thing we talk about is this summer slide and what kids learn or lose,” Mingus said. “They need things like that. So Sarah brought me this idea, and I thought, ‘Yeah, I want to see how it works.’ »
The camp allows children to have more freedom and create activities with little adult guidance.
“Their brain works. They’re learning right now,” Mingus said.
New bonds were also formed between the children. Mingus and Birkby have seen children who can’t normally interact at school form friendships at camp. They both hope that this will continue during the school year.
The parents expressed their gratitude to the women for organizing the camp and allowing their children to play and get dirty. They have already been asked if they would consider adding a preschool program next year.
“It’s fantastic for the kids because I feel like in today’s society we structure a lot. So we just give kids the freedom to understand,” Birkby said.