by Sydney Shultz, City Year New Hampshire AmeriCorps member serving on the Gossler Park Elementary School generously supported by Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Lincoln Financial
February 26, 2018 was the first day of Camp City Year in the beautiful city of Manchester, NH. Over 150 children showed up at either the West side camp held at Northwest Elementary School or the East side camp at McDonough Elementary school to spend their winter vacation week with City Year members. This year’s Camp City Year theme was One World, where we explored the many different faces, voices, places, and choices that exist around the planet. Students had the opportunity to take part in games and activity workshops where a deeper message about inclusivity, diversity, cooperation and teamwork was emphasized. Each day focused on one part of the theme: Many Faces, Many Voices, Many Places and Many Choices.
Every morning, after the children arrived and finished their breakfast, City Year AmeriCorps members greeted the kids in an assembly. We started out with Physical Training (PT) moves, teaching the students parts of City Year culture and getting our bodies moving and ready for a full day. After PT, the campers split up into their respective teams, which were named after famous young people such as Anne Frank & Ruby Bridges, and began their first class sessions. Within each session of Physical Education, Theme, Education, and Art, City Year members incorporated the camp’s overall theme in their own way.
The first day of camp, Many Faces, symbolized the idea that even though we may all look different from one another, we are all part of the same world. Some of the activities from day 1 involved learning about NBA players from different countries and making “I Am From” poems about our backgrounds. One 4th grader said they “liked learning about different countries where people are from.” The second day, themed around Many Voices, was a celebration of different cultures’ performances. To demonstrate this, campers participated in a cultural fashion show, learned dances from around the world and read folk tales in different languages.
Day 3, Many Places, taught students about different locations around the world. Campers learned about African board games, recreated famous landmarks & structures and even simulated different forms of government to work through a mock crisis as a group. The final day was Many Choices. This day was about the different types of opportunities that are available to our students as they progress through life, and was designed to help them think about their futures. Activities from the day included a Bingo game that taught campers about different careers and making self-portraits about where we wanted to be in 20 years. “My favorite part was making art with friends!” said a 3rd grade student.
After it was all said and done, it was a bittersweet time on the last day of camp. A 5th grader wanted to know if there would be another Camp City Year this year; their response, after learning that this was the only one, was “Aw, drats!” After many late nights worked to prepare for camp, seeing it come to an end was relieving, but also saddening. City Year members got to meet many new students from each school we serve around the city, students whom we wouldn’t have met otherwise. And the students themselves got to make new friends from other schools. The children got to learn about subjects not often discussed in their usual classes in an interactive and safe environment. Seeing students so engaged and excited about every activity we were doing was a rewarding experience. We hope that next year’s Camp City Year will be even better than this one!