Local non-profit offers unique and innovative summer camp to area youth

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The Global Gateways’ staff made learning fun. Campers are using elbow macaroni to learn where to place commas in sentences. Camp coaches Ashton Reynolds and Elisha Johnson are providing instruction.
Señor Darren Reed was one of the camp’s three Spanish teachers.
A group of the campers are enjoying some time outdoors while camp coach Elisha Johnson is helping them to paint their name plates.
During the first week of camp, each camper was gifted with a Betta fish to help teach the campers responsibility. Here Maci McClenty is feeding her fish.
Campers not only learned Spanish and about Spanish culture, they also created arts and crafts to help reinforce what they learned. This group of campers and Global Gateways Curriculum Specialist Linda Johnson are making sombreros.
Carmen Johnson and Cameron Thompson excitingly explore their Camp In A Box, the signature gift that every camper receives from Global Gateways that includes most of the supplies that the campers will need to have a successful experience.

Global Gateways’ Literacy, Language and Culture Summer Camp, funded by the Kellogg Foundation and United Way of the Capital Area, concluded Friday, July 30th. The nonprofit offered a four- week, in-person camp for first through fifth graders that focused on Spanish language and culture, and helped the campers improve their reading, listening and comprehension skills. Community partners Cricket Wireless, Continental Tires, The Women’s Fund of Jackson, and Prolific Healthcare made it possible to provide full scholarships to 10 students from Jackson Public School District to attend the camp.

“United Way of the Capital Area believes in the importance of summer enrichment programs like Global Gateways’ in their efforts to promote literacy, language, and cultural learning experiences like these prevent summer learning loss and promote school social and academic readiness,” said Nikki K. McCelleis, Chief Impact and Strategy Officer Programs for United Way.

“This is our second year teaming up with the Global Gateways’ language camp,” said Tommie Henry, Senior Marketing Manager, Central Region for Cricket Wireless. “Last year was virtual and only lasted a week. We were glad to be able to support the camp in a safe in-person manner by providing the camp with hand sanitizers, masks, and backpacks. We were pleased to see how our continued involvement this year helped two deserving youth from Jackson Public Schools attend camp to expand their language learning and reading skills.”

Global Gateways is an educational study abroad and intercultural exchange organization dedicated to helping the next generation of global leaders gain the knowledge and skills necessary to live and work in a globally interdependent and culturally diverse world.

“Our goal is to ensure that all students, especially those of underserved and underrepresented communities, have equal access to opportunities afforded through global education exchanges,” shared Linda Johnson, curriculum specialist for the organization. “Statistics show that students who learn another language, or are exposed to different cultures earlier in life, improve cognitive abilities, have higher test scores in reading and math, boosts problem-solving, critical thinking, listening skills and can assimilate easier. We also know that summer learning loss is a very real thing. Activities involving reading over the summer helped to prevent reading loss and in some cases results in reading gains.”

This year’s camp was held from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The daily itinerary included morning affirmations that the campers read, interpreted, and shared the meanings to help not only set the tone of the camp but expectations of them as campers. Spanish sessions were taught by both native and fluent Spanish speakers. The reading coach then worked with them on sentence structure, blended sounds, and writing. Campers were also provided iPads to research and present on Spanish speaking countries, play language and reading games, followed by arts and crafts that helped to reinforce what they had learned.

“Cameron had a very positive experience with the camp,” shared Caralisa Weathersby, whose son Cameron attended the camp. “He came home everyday with new Spanish words, arts and crafts, and of course new friends. He’s really sad that camp is ending because it was an amazing summer experience. When I told people about it, they didn’t know we had something like this for kids. I wish it could be a program throughout the year because I really want him to continue his Spanish lessons.”
For more information about Global Gateways, visit www.globalgateways.org or connect via Facebook and Instagram @goglobalgateways.