For Kevin Avila, 11, Rose City Summer Camps was fun and educational last year. The fun part was learning new games, and the educational part was learning new fractions. He learned new Bible stories, heard some old ones and gained friendships.
"Also, I gained energy, because before I went to camp, I wasn't really energetic, but after, I was more energetic,' he said.
Kevin's favorite game was spider ball and meeting other kids.
"They were nice and kind," he said, adding that the Bible verses he learned "helped me with school and my Bible class."
Rose City Summer Camps, a program of The Mentoring Alliance, has opened registration for children like Kevin to attend next summer. But the upcoming summer camps at multiple locations will be different from last year with a new, two-hour daily academic component provided by Tyler ISD, a new partner in the camp program.
Tyler ISD is providing 20 teachers to teach the academic components, the four campsites, transportation, breakfast and lunch. Teachers are putting together the curriculum.
"We recognize summer time is a great opportunity to impact kids, because for a lot of kids, there's not a lot of structured activity, so what happens is kids (experience) the summer slide academically," Kevin East, president of Mentoring Alliance, said in explaining why the academic component is being added this summer.
Mixed with academics will be the sharing of Christ with kids as well as fun and games, he said.
The weekly Rose City Summer Camps will run from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. June 13 through July 8, at Rice Elementary and Griffin Elementary and from July 11 through Aug. 5, at Douglas Elementary and Dixie Elementary.
A total of 500 children will be accepted - 250 for each four-week session. The camps are open to children who have completed kindergarten through children who have completed fifth grade.
They will be grouped by age. A male counselor will supervise a group of eight boys, and a female counselor will supervise a group of eight girls. The small groups will let counselors get to know each camper and promote the building of relationships and role modeling.
Ninety counselors are being hired. They range from seniors in high school to seniors at area universities.
"We are committed to hiring Godly summer staff, and one of the things that's key is low staff to child ratio," West said.
Campers sign up for one week or for up to eight weeks for $120 each week. Financial assistance in varying amounts will be available, depending on family income, but applicants have until April 1 to apply for aid. To make paying for camp easier for other families, payment plans are available for paying in advance.
Campers can register online at www.rosecitysummercamps.com or call 903-593-9211 or go to 504 W. 32nd Street.
"We are hoping a lot of kids that never had a camp experience will be in Rose City Summer Camps," Ivette Zavarce, director of community engagement for Mentoring Alliance, said.
"Summer camp can be a life-changing experience where they are able to meet other friends and able to find out things they can do that they never thought they would be able to do. It helps their self esteem," she said. "It helps them to socialize. It will help them also get to know Jesus. It also can be a time of learning in a fun way during the summer to avoid the summer regression."
To prevent children from becoming bored, each week of Rose City Summer Camps will be different. In additiont o a two-hour academic component, there will be three activity classes each day, ranging from sports to singing and dancing to arts and crafts and Bible Study.
"We want (campers) to have fun and enjoy camp, but we also want to be teaching them as we play games. We are a Christian camp, so it will tie into the golden rule to treat others the way you want to be treated and to teamwork and integrity," Matthew Honeycutt, camp director, said.
Priorities, he said, will be on children leaving camp with emotional resilience, life readiness skills, Godly character, academic success and strong faith.
"It's a great opportunity for kids to have a fun place to go in the summer where they are going to be taught Godly character traits and an opportunity to see good role models to look up to," Honeycutt said.
YMCA camps also accepting summer registration
The YMCA of Tyler will offer summer day camp at four different locations this summer: YMCA, 225 S. Vine Ave.; Andy Woods Elementary, 3131 Fry St.; Birdwell Elementary, 2010 Talley Dr.; and the Whitehouse Community YMCA, 301 Terry St.
Prices are: Y-Member weekly rate $75 with a one-time registration fee of $15 and Non-Members weekly rate is $95 and a one-time registration fee of $30.
Camps are open to kids who are 5 years old or going into kindergarten up to age 12.
The programs will begin May 31, at the Whitehouse location and June 6 at Tyler locations. Camps end Aug. 19.
"We will provide fun, educational and safe activities throughout the summer for all children, which include weekly field trips, indoor swimming, reading, science, technology, engineering and math," said Debra Davis, childcare director.
Financial assistance is available for those who qualify. For more information, contact the YMCA of Tyler, 903-593-7327 and Whitehouse Community YMCA, 903-839-9622 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com