TRSU After School and Ludlow team up for summer program

summer camp
West Hill recreation area in Ludlow, Vt. Photo by Sharon Huntley

LUDLOW, Vt. – Ludlow Summer Rec Program is being relaunched this year as “TRSU’s Go WILD Summer Camp” through a collaboration between Two Rivers Supervisory Union and the town of Ludlow. Led by Venissa White, TRSU After School program director, the seven-week program will include students from all four elementary schools within the TRSU – Cavendish, Chester, Ludlow, and Mount Holly – and operate at the former Ludlow Summer Rec location on West Hill in Ludlow.

According to Municipal Manager Scott Murphy, the town had formed a sub-committee last year to develop a better summer program through the Ludlow Recreation Department. The TRSU came to Ludlow with a good proposal, which included a learning component as well as lots of the traditional summer activities, something that appealed to Murphy and Ludlow Rec. He also said that they worked things out because they didn’t want to be competing for local kids, especially since TRSU’s program was already coordinating with the other three surrounding elementary students.

Key to hosting the Go WILD program at West Hill was a commitment from the town to renovate the buildings on site. Murphy said the town was already busy working on West Hill area anyway to make it more appealing for Ludlow families to have a nice outdoor site to come to so the timing was perfect. The town has money in the budget for the improvements, which include replacing windows in the building, fixing leaks, painting ceilings, replacing the doors in the men’s room stalls, replacing women’s room bathroom sink and cabinets. They are also replacing the pavilion roof, a separate structure with picnic tables underneath.

The Go WILD Summer Camp will happen from June 24 through Aug. 9, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. – 5:15 p.m., serving children in grades one through seven. White is anticipating approximately 60-70 kids will participate each day, coming from all four elementary schools, the first time all four towns have come together in a summer program. White is hiring 10 full-time, college age or older staffers to man the program.

Kids will meet at their home schools where they will have breakfast and then be bussed to West Hill in Ludlow. Daily activities will include team building, STEM, arts and crafts, environmental science, sports, mindfulness, water activities, music making, multi-culture adventures, and nature-based programs.

Special programs are also being planned for Fridays with local programs coming to West Hill such as Wunderle Big Top, Grafton Nature Museum, VINS, and storytellers. White also is planning on her own special Friday events like ice cream socials and fiesta Fridays.

The TRSU After School Program has their own equipment including eight kayaks, 13 mountain bikes, lots of musical instruments, and a whole lot of other resources that will be brought to the summer program throughout the seven weeks.

White is committed to have learning interwoven throughout the activities. As a 21C funded program, academic enrichment is a big component but White is clear that learning during the summer program has “never been sitting down and doing worksheets.” In summer, learning happens everywhere with academics interwoven throughout the day. Music, small team sports, nature hikes, and playing games require math, engineering, and critical thinking and White will be using the scientific terms during play so that kids will recognize those terms in context later in the classroom. She is also looking forward to 30-minute timeframe after lunch set aside for mindfulness. Hammocks throughout the property will be havens for kids to meditate, reflect, read, and set goals each day.

Go WILD Summer Program also has broad reaching social and emotional goals for the summer as well, helping the kids learn to interact, collaborate, and establish relationships with each other that will resonate throughout the rest of the year. “One of my biggest hopes for the program is to bring students together across the SU in an outdoor location to meet new people, make new friends, and have fun. I’m hoping this will be the thread that ties the SU back together…all coming come together for one purpose,” she said.

One of the challenges of the West Hill location is water usage of the reservoir on the property. According to White, since Hurricane Irene, the ground is so uneven with no gentle sloping that it is not safe for swimming. In addition, “use of the water will be dependent on E-coli levels that are being constantly tested by the state,” said White. Murphy and White will be meeting in the coming weeks to dial in how this can be addressed for future reservoir use.

On a positive note, there are two major streams that go through the property, which the campers will be splashing and cooling off in regularly if not daily. White is also bringing sprinklers and “slip and slide” type equipment to ensure plenty of water activities.

The program will continue to accept subsidy for all families who qualify. There are also family discounts and scholarships available. For information visit www.sites.google.com/trsu.org/trsu-asp/summer, email Venissa.white@trsu.org, or call 802-591-2294.

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