EdGE summer campers explore together

by | Aug 4, 2023 | News

EdGE summer campers experienced a return to normal this year with a range of adventures. From kayaking and garden visits to team sports like volleyball and basketball, campers enjoyed over 700 hours of programming this June and July. 

Each week, children visited the Incredible Edible gardens in Milbridge, an initiative from partner nonprofit Women for Rural Healthy Living.  They also visited Folklore Farm where they explored the inner workings of a working farm in their own backyard. Digging in the ground and learning more about plants prompts campers to think about food, how it’s grown, and the function of outdoor spaces. During another outing at the Monteux Music Festival, classical songs flooded campers’ ears, exposing them to not only this genre of music but also saw the interesting career paths of instrumentalists and budding conductors. 

These trips gave students a chance to explore their own communities, but they also gained rich experiences without ever leaving their elementary school campuses. Three schools in Washington County participated, including D.W. Merritt Elementary in Addison, Milbridge Elementary, and Rose M. Gaffney Elementary in Machias. 

At camp, the students rotate through a variety of activities during the day engaging in STEM, arts and crafts, and physical activities. They create art, work cooperatively to build structures using LEGOs or natural materials, play games, and of course, hit the playground. Camp counselors which include parents, older teens, and teachers dedicate time to building social skills. EdGE programming aims for certain impacts on students, which includes: 

  • understand and manage emotions;  
  • make healthy, responsible decisions;  
  • set and achieve positive goals; 
  • feel and show empathy for others; and  
  • establish and maintain positive relationships. 

Children’s author Jocelyn Lacey observed these impacts firsthand when she visited all three summer camps in July. “The kids have a safe place to go in the summer where they can socially progress, have fun, and learn together,” she says. Jocelyn accompanied Director of Development Erica Hutchinson on an all-day excursion to read a few of her books to summer campers. She read three books, including Coral’s First Sleepover, Pierre the Peacock, and What Do Police Officers’ Do?. After reading each child picked a book to bring home and the Mission purchased a book for each child, made possible by Barrett Foundation which funds EdGE summer camp literacy curriculum. Before distribution, Jocelyn made time to inscribe a personal message for each child. 

A woman sitting in a chair reads to a group of children sitting on the ground

Jocelyn regularly volunteers her time to causes she cares about. She learned about the Mission in her years as a Sigma Kappa sorority collegiate. “When I joined Sigma Kappa, I learned how the sorority started and about its early commitment to Maine Seacoast Mission. Living in Maine, I realized it would be nice to get involved as an alumna.” 

Jocelyn was moved by the challenges communities face: poverty, addiction, domestic violence, and lack of infrastructure in comparison to neighboring counties. “These are difficult circumstances for children,” she shares, “I was amazed by the teachers who spend their summers providing good experiences for these students. It just spoke volumes to me about how much they and the Mission care in impacting these kids’ lives.” 

After her trip, she committed to donate a percentage of book sales from Coral’s First Sleepover, which is about a young mermaid who lives off the coast of Maine. “Every little bit helps. And if I can help, I will because I believe in the Mission.” 

This fall, EdGE afterschool programming returns so students can continue to challenge themselves, engage with their communities, explore the outdoors, and gain social and leadership skills to build personal, career, and post-secondary education aspirations. To learn more about the Mission’s afterschool, summer camp, and leadership programming, please visit the EdGE web page

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