North Colonie’s Summer Camps Keep Students Engaged and Connected

While school isn’t officially in session, a different type of learning is happening at North Colonie this summer.

For the second year, the district is offering free Summer Engagement Camps that allow students to engage with fellow students and have fun while learning something new.

A student traces a “croquis,” a quick sketch of a human body that serves as the template for a piece of clothing or outfit, as part of Fashion Illustration Engagement Camp.

The district was able to invest in the summer educational programming as the result of a federal funding stream to help with expenses related to COVID-19.

Last year the camps were geared toward secondary and high school students. They were such a success that the offerings were expanded this year to include K-5 students. A total of 43 camps are running at three locations – Forts Ferry Elementary, Latham Ridge Elementary, and Shaker Middle School.

“When we look at the lessons from the pandemic, we know that bringing students together is vitally important. Our goal is to give students the opportunity to take part in learning in an environment where they are comfortable and can stay engaged with teachers and peers,” said Deputy Superintendent Kathleen Skeals.

Just over 40 staff, many who returned from last year’s program, are involved with the camps ranging from arts and crafts opportunities, coding, innovation and technology, athletics, social-emotional health/wellbeing, and music.  In addition, there are academic camp opportunities to allow students a jump start towards college essays, expand their knowledge of world languages, and engage in meaningful discussions in a book club style format.

Elementary students created carnival games out of Legos in an innovation camp.

Over 2,000 students applied to be a part of the program and each week we have anywhere from 100-150 students cycling through the three locations.

“We are so fortunate to be in a district where our administration prioritizes and supports creating opportunities for students to reconnect and engage in programs geared towards areas of interest,” said Stephen Doak, director of the engagement and innovation camps.  “Our staff goes above and beyond on a daily basis to offer their time and expertise to helping students explore and develop their passions.”

The district aims to provide these offerings in the future.