KEEN has a new program called Connecting Kids to Camp this summer that came about through a grant from the No Child Left Inside program we received in June. The grant encouraged KEEN to hire a veteran, and we lucked out in finding Tom Duke USMC 65-70 to help run the program.
KEEN’s Connecting Kids to Camp is a free program that we designed as a stepping stone to our Pond to Pines summer camp. During the picnic in the parks run by FISH, KEEN provides snippets into the coming week at camp and highlights activities that connect kids to nature and engage them in hands-on science-based fun. KEEN has been partnering with FISH and the Ellensburg Library, Read with Me Program, and the City Parks Department Adventure Program.
KEEN hired Kendal Bjerke to work with Tom and her goal is to design programs to engage local kids in environmental education. Kendal is also ensuring that we document our successes and challenges in a curriculum for further years. Tom and Kendal are having a great time creating an educational summer program that supports nature, arts and STEM projects for children of all ages.
Our audience at the Connecting Kids to Camp program moves between five parks in Ellensburg and to date our smallest group was one and our largest was 20. Families can find us in North Alder Park, Mountain View Park, Kiwanis Park, West Ellensburg Park and Memorial Park at lunch time Monday through Friday.
Community businesses have been huge supporters of the program with Jerrol’s generously donating art supplies and items for science experiments. A few projects that the children have completed include pin wheels, nature compasses, direction indicators, scavenger hunts, chalk texture rubbings, creating a four directions design with arrow cut outs and colors, and rock/water volume.
Other program sponsors include Vinman’s Bakery, Winegar’s Dairy, Daily Bread, and the Dakota Café who have all donated treats to program participants. They are a welcome diversion after completing the days fun activity. Kids get coupons for free treats after the question of the day is asked; “What was your favorite part of the day?”
Tom and Kendal are excited to welcome your kids to the Connecting Kids to Camp program and we hope to see you in the parks this summer!
Details about KEEN’s programs can be found at www.ycic.org and on Facebook.