MARQUETTE - Seeing tents set up in a classroom and making s'mores in the sun isn't considered a typical day at school, but during the last week of school it is for Lakeview Elementary School first-graders who get a taste of their upcoming summer vacation during Camp Skeeter.
Camp Skeeter is a program that has been taking place at Lakeview Elementary School for over 10 years. Tents are put up in classroom and students get to have fun doing activities such as making solar s'mores, reading is tents and taking hikes to Miner's Park for a fun day outside. Lauren Veale, a first-grade teacher at Lakeview, experienced Camp Skeeter for the first time this year and loved it.
"I didn't really know exactly what to expect going in," she said. "All of the first-grade teachers have been excited for camp and have their own style for 'camp life.' I've just been trying different things to try to settle into a style that fits my group of students and me."
First-graders learn about the cycle of a mosquito during an activity at Camp Skeeter on Wednesday at Lakeview Elementary School in Negaunee. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Eli Cody, 7, reads in a fort set up in his first-grade classroom during Camp Skeeter. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
On the first day the students learned the "Camp Skeeter Song" and spent time reading and writing in the tents set up around the classroom. In Veale's class there was even a virtual campfire playing on the projector in the front of the class during the three days that Camp Skeeter was held.
"The kids loved camp. They've worked really hard all year and it's been nice to celebrate their hard work," Veale said. "In first grade, the students' reading takes off and they go from reading basic words to stories with more depth and richer vocabulary. I'm not sure there's a better way to celebrate learning how to read than reading in a tent or a fort."
Because Camp Skeeter has been at Lakeview so long student get excited for more and more as they go through first grade.
"The students start asking about it early because they've had siblings who have gone through," said Cathy Baldini, first-grade teacher at Lakeview. "So it's kind of become a traditional first grade unit around here."
Baldini said the program was brought to Lakeview by a former first-grade teacher who saw it at a different school, so they decided to build their own version of it with a variety of activities related to camping.
"My favorite part is the excitement of the kids," Baldini said. "I like the age level and they are very enthusiastic and ready to learn."
Veale said her favorite part is also how excited the students get about Camp Skeeter and learning.
"I think my favorite part is seeing the kids reactions to the activities," Veale said. "I wish I could have recorded their reactions when they walked in the door on the first day. It made all of the work to set up and plan worth it."
Camp Skeeter finished up on Thursday and the students' last day of school was Friday.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 243. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.