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By Kimi Kehr, City Year AmeriCorps Member and Camp City Year Recruitment and MarComm Director

The latest venture that City Year New Hampshire embarked on was Camp City Year. After months of planning (and innumerable phone calls to confirm students), the New Hampshire corps was ready to tackle camp. During the week, we visited the Rainforest, the Savanna, the Arctic, and the Temperate Forest without ever leaving the school building. The look and feel of camp was amazing and the students were able to interact with environments that are very different from life in Manchester. 

We all began the Monday morning of February break with bright eyes and bushy tails, prepared to venture through the rainforest. Everything fell into place as the Team Leaders prepared to meet their campers. 'Welcome to Camp!' was the first thing the students heard and besides a few missing name tags, everything went smoothly. The students were sent to their teams and went to meet other children from around the city. Here are some highlights from the week:

Monday’s visit to the Rainforest included:

  • A diagram of the different layers of the Rainforest
  • A science experiment depicting rain falling through clouds
  • Students creating personalized rainsticks from recycled paper towel rolls
  • Trust walks to demonstrate light getting through the canopy and to foster team among the campers
  • Satellite images of the Rainforest

On Tuesday, students visited the Savanna and activities included:

  • A Safari through the halls of the schools to find different animals and animal facts
  • Construction of several kinds of animals found on the Savanna
  • Painted African tribal masks made from recycled milk cartons

Wednesday, the theme was Arctic. These students are no stranger to the cold, seeing as they live in New England, but that didn't stop the learning process including:

  • A science experiment that demonstrated how blubber works
  • Demonstration of Polar Ice Caps
  • An Arctic obstacle course
  • Handmade chalk drawings of the Aurora Borealis​
  • And, a dance party with all of the campers and City Year!

Thursday was the last day of camp, and it was Temperate Forest themed. The Camp leadership team thought it would be nice for the students to 'come home' in a way. After a week of learning about distant places and far off creatures, something more tangible seemed fitting. Some of the activities were:

  • Painting dioramas of the White Mountains in NH out of recycled egg cartons
  • Games that depicted scarcity and competition in wildlife populations
  • Science lessons that involved learning more about native plants and animals ​
  • Exploring what the seasons meant for the different plants and animals
  • A game where some of the campers were able to pie the Camp City Year Directors in the face

On the last day of camp, the campers and City Year AmeriCorps members signed each other's shirts that were provided by CYNH to all of the City Year and students. It was a bittersweet goodbye, I think. After so much hard work on organizing this event, everyone was glad it was complete, but we were going to miss the students and the interactive lessons that allowed the students to learn science, a subject that does not get a lot of attention in elementary school.

But don't just take it from me...

"Camp City Year was super fun." -3rd Grade Student

"I usually use my phone when I'm bored, but I don't need to use my phone here because I'm not bored." -4th Grade Student

"I can't WAIT for Camp City Year next year!" -2nd Grade Student

Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. The students learned about the Biomes, the current corps members were able to interact with students in new ways, the leadership team was able to see their work come alive, and we continued the legacy of City Year New Hampshire providing a safe and engaging February vacation camp, something that is totally unique in the City Year network. I'm excited to see what next year brings.

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