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Summer refreshment: District 833's 'Campus' program helps students keep learning over vacation

Teacher Reid Tschumperlin listens to an answer from a student during a class at Summer Campus at Crestview Elementary School. Tschumperlin told the students he was thinking of a particular number and challenged them to think of questions they could ask him that would help them narrow down what number it could be. (Bulletin photo by William Loeffler)1 / 3
TayShawn VanArsdale, 10, of Cottage Grove, responds to a question from teacher Reid Tschumperlin during Summer Campus at Crestview. The program, which is held at 12 locations in District 833, is designed to help students retain or enhance their knowledge over the summer. (Bulletin photos by William Loeffler)2 / 3
Nicolas Boyd enjoys some morning exercise at Summer Campus at Crestview Elementary School. The program, which is held at 12 locations in District 833, is designed to help students refresh or reabsorb their schoolwork over the summer. 3 / 3

For most kids, summer school has the same appeal as a visit to the dentist or a bowl of liver.

But Summer Campus, a four-week program administered by District 833, mixes fun and recreation with the three Rs. The course provides remedial and preparatory instruction for children in grades K-7. Students attend Summer Campus at 12 locations in District 833. Registration is closed for this year’s Campus, which ends Aug. 7.

The program is designed to help students refresh and re-engage their brains with math, reading, writing and science — subjects that they aren’t likely to think about while they’re riding bikes or playing video games during summer vacation. This “summer slide” can cause difficulties if a child forgets too much of the material learned before the start of vacation.

“I describe it as a booster shot for students just before the school year starts,” said Brian Boothe, District 833 coordinator of integrated professional development.

The relatively low-key setting of Summer Campus can help ease students back into learning.

“It doesn’t have the same kind of pressure as a full school day,” Boothe said.

In March, the district mailed invitations to students whose test scores indicated that they might benefit from extra help with reading, writing and math. Teachers can also recommend students for Summer Campus. The curriculum at the middle schools can also include science.

A recent Summer Campus session at Crestview Elementary School began with breakfast, followed by a teacher-supervised playtime in the gymnasium, where students shot hoops, bounced rubber balls and ran around.

Six-year-old Nicolas Boyd literally bounced off the walls. He’ll start first grade in the fall, so meeting other classmates and getting a taste of what lies ahead should help make his first day of school less disorienting.

“This is a safe environment for them and they enjoy being here,” Crestview second-grade teacher and site supervisor Stacie Brown said. “The smaller classes mean more individualized attention from teachers. It’s more hands-on.”

Teachers benefit as well, since those who participate in the Summer Campus program meet some of the kids they will teach in the fall. Reid Tschumperlin, who teaches fifth grade at Crestview Elementary, has taught at Summer Campus for the past several years.

“It’s kind of a jump-start to the school year for reading and math,” Tschumperlin said.

During class, he gathers fourth-graders in a circle and tells them he’s thinking of a particular number. Instead of them guessing what the number is, he challenges the students to think of questions that might help them to narrow down the possibilities.

Enrollment for this year’s Summer Campus is 1,353, Boothe said.

“Really, our mission is to find a way to service students depending on where they’re at,” Boothe said. “There are some students who might need review and some students who might need a preview. It’s up to teachers to find out where their students are at and either review or preview information to come.”