Fifteen kids started their last day of camp at Churchill Park School near the Fairgrounds playing “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” on boom whackers.
Katy Randolph, a teacher for students with visual impairments at Jefferson County Public Schools, counted them in for a song. As Randolph yelled out different colors, which told students when to strike their musical instruments, the kids hit their boom whackers on the ground to the tune.
A little while later, they headed outside to hang out with a menagerie of real farm animals.
These were some of the activities for students at the second annual STEAMsational JCPS Vision Summer Camp. The free three-week program gives students with visual impairments an opportunity to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and math through hands-on activities.
“It’s an amazing experience to see them learn and they can learn just like how all other students learn just with another set of skills,” Randolph said.
During the camp, first- through fifth-grade students have cooked, played music with the boom whackers and built model airplanes.
Cooking was a stand-out favorite among the students, Randolph said.
That was the case for six-year-old Breckenridge Franklin student Andrea McCubbins
“We made chicken soup, strawberry jam and we made some muffins and biscuits and some more biscuits and we made some eggs,” she said.
Andrea said her favorite was the “moose muffins”: chocolate chip muffins with cream cheese icing and pretzels for the antlers.
Beyond enjoying the activities she got to participate in, Andrea said she enjoyed the social aspect of the camp as well. That’s something Randolph said is an important factor.
Many campers are among the few visually impaired students, if not the only ones, at their schools, she said.
“So to come to a camp that has all students with visual impairments, they get to see that they aren’t the only one and that everyone learns differently and that’s okay to have a visual impairment, it’s okay to be different,” Randolph said.
Kendra Ray said her 8-year-old daughter Kendall woke up every day anticipating returning to camp.
“She is like a social butterfly, so she gets to meet new kids and new teachers and she just loves coming to all the schools,” Ray said.
Ray said she appreciated having a camp where she doesn’t have to worry as much about her daughter.
“It’s just really hard to find some teachers and a program that I can trust that she’s in good hands,” Ray said. “I know she’s in great hands when I send her here.”
Randolph said that getting an opportunity to see students learn in these ways is rewarding.
“They love learning, it doesn’t matter what we give them, they are eager to learn and have a great experience every single day,” Randolph said. “So we come away with some joy, they truly are a joy.”