Friday, 25 July 2008

How To Run A Summer Program

Summer Fun has been a summer program for the youth at Fraserview church for many years and usually runs through July. The kids are split into two groups (Grades 1-3 and 4-7) named Summerfun Jr. and Summerfun Sr. and as two of the four main coordinators, Sage and I worked with both groups in rotation - starting with 2 weeks with the seniors and then 2 weeks with the juniors (the reverse order of Jenny and Bruce). As of July, it is the 5th youth program that I have involved myself with since arriving in January and I am becoming quite well known at Fraserview.

As well as the two volunteers on each team, we had a selection of 14/15 year olds from youth programs or schools around the area who had come to help out. They were unpaid but got to experience all the activities for free and earn some experience with kids. Many of these guys were from Fuel, Fridge or Kids Club and I got on well with them all. Some of them showed great initiative and all were liked by at least a few kids – some of us leaders gaining fan clubs that liked to follow us around!

On the Steveston treasure hunt for "Pirate Day"

The first week was a shortened one (with a day off for Canada Day on the last day of June) and we ran activities around the building as well as in the neighbouring park for the first day. With the weather being great we included water fights and a soapy slide across the field as well as ice creams and popsicles each day.

Each week included two field trips where we had access to the vans and could go anywhere that we had planned. Sage had done most of the planning and organising and I had been around for assistance and ideas, during the month of June. In the first week we visited Steveston for a walk and time at the water park on the "pirate" themed day - themes picked by the coordinators from last year to help with ideas for this year. We also went to laser tag and one child got the location’s accuracy record!

We also watched a few movies each week for the chilling out time, and to keep the kids out of the sun since it had been pretty hot for most of the month. Crafts and games included underwater pictures on paper plates, covered in blue acetate for watery effects and colouring pictures, with "kid hunt" and "sleeping lions" being favourites.

Kid hunt involves all the kids hiding and the leaders finding them afterwards. This became the most popular game after the kids tired of trying to find me in sardines because of my difficult hiding spots! Sleeping lions is a game where all the kids pretend to be asleep and lose if they move or talk. This is a favourite of mine because all the kids stay in one place; peaceful and silent.

The next week involved much of the same, with the seniors again (the second of our 2-week period with them before a 2-week shift with the juniors.) including trips to swimming pools and themes more to do with water. The second group was larger but still well behaved and enjoyable to work with. A few times we had to take a child aside but nothing major occurred so it was an interesting experience talking calmly to the kid in question and trying to have their behaviour improve.

The two weeks with the junior children was very different, with a lot of chaos when the kids decided to “dog pile” a particular volunteer or coordinator and jump on them. It was still really good fun – though I spent most of the time with a child on my shoulders so it was more tiring. By the end of the two weeks, where we visited pools, an indoor play area and beaches I was looking forward to the 5th and final week of the program; where the four coordinators (Jenny and Bruce from the other team) were to be taking the senior group on camp!

After the experience so far, I am sure that teaching is the way I want to go although I realise a classroom atmosphere will be very different to a summer program, though now I am looking more towards working with the upper end of elementary school since I enjoyed working with the older group a lot – knowing some from my kids club group.


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