Camp Adventure is offering a new program called Summer Learning Fun, giving Ball State students the opportunity to gain experience outside of the typical classroom environment.

While visiting the camp Camp Adventure with one of her classes, Stacey Allred, instructor of elementary education, along with director of Camp Adventure James Leslie discussed how the property was underutilized during the summer.

Their discussion led to the creation of Summer Learning Fun.

The three week camp is designed to serve more than just Ball State education majors, but it does replace two core classes for those involved. Allred thought that offering a hands-on learning experience for children in the Muncie community would be a great way to combat summer learning loss.

“There is a lot of national tension actually with the fact that kids need summer support and it doesn’t have to look like classroom support, but they need academic support and physical activity in the summer,” Allred said.

She brought the idea to Pat Clark, chairperson of the department of education, and Robert Marra, director of the Office of Charter Schools. Clark got Ball State students involved and Marra was able to get Inspire Academy involved as a school that would be served by the camp.

At the beginning of the summer, the 12 Ball State students who signed up met to begin preparations. In order to teach the first and second graders of Inspire Academy, Muncie Community Schools and Wes-Del Elementary, the education majors had to learn standards, research and write lesson plans.

The student’s goal was to create science and reading lessons that would help the elementary students continue to learn but not make them feel like they were in school. The group also teamed up with Digital Core to create a logo for the camp.

“I was a little nervous for the camp aspect because we didn’t know what to expect, but after the first day all of my nerves were gone," elementary education major Alyssa Humburg said.

On the first day, the campers were surveyed on what they enjoyed doing along with their reading level. At the end of the camp, they will be given bags filled with games and books to continue summer learning and t-shirts with the logo printed on them.

The camp began June 12 and continues through June 29. Campers are able to show up at 8 a.m. for breakfast and camp begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 12:30 p.m.

While standards are being met every Monday through Thursday, the kids also participate in fun activities.

In one science lesson, the children learned about clouds and made binoculars so that they could go outside and apply what they had learned. There is also an activity where animal scent stations are set up in the forest area by the camp.

Sand and hunting cameras are placed around the scent that attracts wildlife and through the footprints left behind, campers will be able to identify what animal visited. Other activities included tie-dye, water games, fishing and crafts to keep the campers engaged and active.

Registration for the camp was taken care of through the school corporations, and Muncie Community Schools was able to lend a hand in feeding those involved.

“We want the kids to be outside and active, we want them to be fed, that’s why the meals are free through a separate feeding program through Muncie Schools and then we also want to continue to help maintain summer learning,” Allred said.

After the first two weeks of camp, Allred is thrilled with how things are turning out and senior elementary education major Gabby Sims is beginning to see the benefits of immersive learning opportunities.

“I felt like on paper I had everything planned out but kids are unpredictable and the important thing about teaching is being able to adapt quickly and that is the biggest takeaway I have from this camp," Sims said. "I'm definitely learning as I go.”

Sims had never been part of an immersive learning experience, but feels it's a more fun way to learn. But Sims and Humburg are not only hoping to further their knowledge, but improve the campers knowledge as well.

“My favorite part of camp is watching the kids learn and grow in such a different setting. They get to really be hands-on while learning and that is such an important part of what we are doing,” Humburg said.

With all of the help that she has received and the work she has done, Allred is proud of the first year of Summer Learning Fun at Camp Adventure.

“I had two main goals for this year, keeping kids safe and providing quality instruction for them,“ Allred said.

Because it is a national goal to have a program for summer learning offered in every state, Allred hopes that this camp becomes that program for Muncie. She also hopes that she can continue to widen the range of people she reaches, through more participation from Ball State and school corporations in the Muncie area.