From Camper to Teacher

Colleen (in the bright yellow jacket) with some of her 7th grade students.

Colleen (in the bright yellow jacket) with some of her 7th grade students.

This week at the CVEEC, we were joined by 7th grade students from St. Paul Catholic School in North Canton, Ohio.  Colleen Justus, the lead school coordinator for their trip, is actually a former camper of our resident program!

Colleen made the trip out to camp as a 6th grader when she attended Urban Community School.  Ellie Reagan, Colleen’s former 6th grade science teacher at Urban, has been actively involved with the EEC since the 1994-1995 school year.  It is always fun to learn about these small-world connections.

In addition to bringing her students to the resident program, Ellie Reagan joined our summer staff as a Teacher Ranger Teacher in 2010. Also, her classroom students were the winners of our annual Adelstein Award in 2013.

In addition to bringing her students to the resident program, Ellie Reagan joined our summer staff as a Teacher Ranger Teacher in 2010. Also, her classroom students were the winners of our annual Adelstein Award in 2013.

Though it has been several years since Colleen attended CVEEC as a camper, there are definitely aspects of the program that stuck with her to today.  Coming to camp in 6th grade was Colleen’s very first camp experience; it is memories of the “traditional” camp activities that have stuck with her the most.  “I definitely remember the dorms from when I was a camper,” said Colleen, “the songs are all coming back to me as we sing them, and I definitely remember the campfire.”

Those same activities are highlights for the students she is now chaperoning.  “The kids were so excited to sleep in the dorms the first night we were here, and they certainly love the food.  One of the best parts of camp for me as a chaperone is to see my students in a different light.  You can learn so much about your students by playing Pictionary in the dorms that you would never see in an academic classroom.  We were all laughing and bonding, it was so much fun.”

Colleen also sees her students enjoying the academic aspect of their experience.  She states, “It’s wonderful how the EEC curriculum builds throughout the week.  Tonight and tomorrow, as we wrap things up, the kids will start to see how the classes we’ve been doing all week will build together for their final project.”

Students learn about the biodiversity of a headwaters stream.

Students learn about the biodiversity of a headwaters stream.

When asked if our resident program provided unique academic experiences for students, the answer was an overwhelming, “Yes!” Colleen said that even though she does many hands-on lab based science labs with her students, the CVEEC takes it one step further.  “I do a lot with my students in the lab, but I cannot take them to an actual stream and collect critters.  This outdoor experience has been wonderful and so much fun.  It also will tie in perfectly with our upcoming unit on biomes.”

Enjoying class in the great outdoors.

Enjoying class in the great outdoors.

When asked for final thoughts about the trip Colleen said, “It’s neat to see how much the kids are enjoying everything.  There are quiet kids who have opened up and are now joining in conversations at the lunch table and many kids who have made new friends.  Before we came on the trip there were concerned parents speculating that kids would become homesick; in reality, the kids are having a blast and do not want to leave!”

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