SEEDS Summer Day Camp teaches students to expand their horizons

Pam Ayres of BlackBird Art in Traverse City leads the students taking part in the SEEDS Summer Day Camp Program through an exercise to create personal journals. The six-week summer day camp gives 40 students from the Manistee Area Public and Brethren school systems the opportunity to experience a wide variety of educational activities they normally wouldn’t get the opportunity to experience.

MANISTEE — Porsha Brown had a look of intensity on her face.

The girl knew exactly what she wanted to create with the painting she was working on under the watchful eye of friend Keisha Picklesimer at the SEEDS Summer Day Camp being held at CASMAN Academy. As the two girls talked it out, the painting grew in context and color until as Brown felt it was perfect.

“I really like to paint,” Porsha proudly proclaimed as she admired her work.

The girls are two of 40 students from Kaleva Norman Dickson and the Manistee Area Public Schools taking part in the annual six-week summer day camp. SEEDS coordinator Ben Parsons said this annual enrichment program is very popular with the students.

“We have been doing summer camp since SEEDS started in Manistee County,” he said. “Once school gets out for the year we give the kids a week or two break before holding our summer camp. We do one camp for the middle school and one for the high school students. The whole idea of the program is to give kids exposure to things they normally wouldn’t get the chance to take part in. It also gives them the chance to interact with other kids, helping them with their growth process.”

Parsons said they ran the program at Kaleva Norman Dickson for several years and this is the second year they have combined with the MAPS students. SEEDS has individual programs during the school year in both districts.

“We get 20 kids from each school,” he said. “Last year we were in Brethren, but we talked with (CASMAN Alternative Director) Keith (Shearer). He was very gracious to let us come here this year, which is a great space for the kids to be in. This place (Maxwelltown Park) is small enough so we know where everyone is, and it works out well for us.”

Shearer said the organization is happy with the new association, and the way things are working out.

“We are glad to have them here because it brings kids into the (CASMAN) building during the summer,” he said.

Parsons said they begin opening up the program to area students near the end of the school year.

“Right around spring break we do a sign-up at the schools,” he said. “We are limited to 20 kids, and it takes place four days a week for five hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We usually do lots of activities in the morning, and if the weather is nice we go to the beach in the afternoon.”

SEEDS utilizes the services of Manistee County Transportation’s Dial-A-Ride to bring the students to the CASMAN location. The have centralized pick-ups at various locations in the Brethren and Manistee areas.

“Brethren is such a large geographical district it can be a little difficult getting all the kids in, but we make it work,” said Parsons.

It is very important in a child’s development to meet kids from other schools. Each week has a different theme to it. This week it is art with Pam Ayres from BlackBird Art in Traverse City. Next week is acting week where we have the Old Town Playhouse actors from Traverse City coming in to work with the kids. We have weeks for science, martial arts, music, and at the end of August it finishes up with the College for Kids at West Shore Community College.”

Ayres worked with the children this week on a variety of activities, and on Wednesday they made journals under her guidance. One of the projects they did in the past few days was the grass ball, which proved to be extremely popular with the kids.

“The kids all get together with a big batch of dirt, grass seed and covering. They fill up these balls with dirt and grass and they become these pods that hold their shape and grow all summer,” she said. “They last two or three years and it brings a bright green spot.”

Ayres said the kids were having a great time.

“Today, we have given them the journals and some clues on what to write in them,” she said. “We are also working on problem-solving activities, and it is not a guided tour in a video game. It really makes them get in there and think.”

Over the years, Ayres has witnessed students going many different directions with their artwork through these types of programs.

“I have seen students figure out that they can make patterns,” said Ayres. “Some that develop into fabric designers and some go to graphic design,” she said. “If I can push them to how they are going to take ownership of being creative thinkers, then you have some exiting things happening. By doing it this way it has a more of a pointed goal instead of just using activity books.”

Porsha and Keisha said they enjoyed the art part of the summer camp.

“I also liked doing the tie dying of T-shirts that we did,” said Porsha. “They were actually quite easy to do. I didn’t really have any set design, but just tied them all together.”

 

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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