DECATUR — The last day of summer camp for Decatur schools this year wrapped up at Baum School with an ABC Fashion Show.

The kids, all 4 or 5 years old, decorated brown paper vests with pictures of things they love and wore hats decorated with upper and lower case letters.

Kyan Hall, who will be in kindergarten at French Academy in August, put a photo collage on the back of his vest, pictures of cats and a Kit Kat bar.

“I wanted him to get a head start (on school),” said his uncle, Shaq Jelks, who attended the show. “To get ahead, to learn and get used to being in a classroom.”

Decatur schools offer several camps, depending on a child's interests and needs. Camp Connections supports academic growth and achievement in a non-traditional, hands-on environment. SMASH Camp, for gifted students, offers two groups, one for younger and one for older students, in which kids work hand in hand with local companies and organizations on projects.

Camp Discovery learned about the new agriculture program in Decatur schools and visited Enterprise School's Living Science farm, created sleeping mats to donate to Oasis Day Center, prepared s'mores in solar ovens and made treats and toys for shelter dogs.

Field trips included Overlook Adventure Park, the Monticello Train Station, Skyzone in Springfield, and Six Flags for SMASH campers, while Camp Connections groups visited Spitler Woods, Ergadoozy, the library, Rock Springs, Serenity Farms and Decatur Airport, went to a movie at The Strand, attended a performance at the Devon Amphitheater, and went swimming and to Scovill Zoo.

At Baum, said college intern Janesha Manson, they spent time learning their letters and sounds, how to line up and sit “criss-cross applesauce” for lessons, and how to behave in the hallways.

“We did a lot,” she said. “We took a lot of field trips. We identified letters and numbers, we played games, we made friends. We spent a lot of time learning motor skills and social interaction skills.”

At first, said teacher Diane Orr, the little ones had no idea what “line up” was all about, but four weeks later, they all know about “holding a bubble in your mouth” — keeping your lips shut and puffing out your cheeks so you have to be quiet — and “hallway hands,” which is either crossing your arms or putting your hands behind your back so you aren't tempted to touch anyone else.

Christopher Johnson Jr. came home every day with stories about camp, said his grandmother, Carmela Johnson.

“He's so bright,” she said. “We didn't want him sitting around with nothing to do.”

One of her fears, that Christopher would be shy around other children and needed the socialization, has proven unfounded. Christopher is anything but shy, and hardly stood still as kids gathered their things and prepared to say good-bye. He's going to kindergarten at Franklin School in August. 

Contact Valerie Wells at (217) 421-7982. Follow her on Twitter: @modgirlreporter


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