By: C.N. Staff Writer
The Summer Academic Camp at Brighter Day United Methodist Church in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Ward 8 kicked off the last week of June with over forty-five kids. The camp, which is in session for eight weeks, is held every summer to help enrich learning for small elementary-aged children.
Students from the neighborhood and surrounding communities can be a part of the camp at a low cost to parents. The camp partners with The Center for Student Missions, which is a short-term, non-denominational, urban mission organization. It is committed to “provide an effective urban ministry experience that transforms lives, influences churches and communities, and honors Christ.” Brighter Day Ministry’s Pastor Ernest Lyles said, “We have enjoyed our partnership with CSM. Each year they send us students from around the country to help out with the camp.” This year the students are from Fort Wayne, Indiana and while here for the summer they participate in every aspect of the camp, from education, recreation and even landscaping.
Pastor Lyles has said that the goal of the camp is to provide children with alternative academic needs for the summer, while also giving them a spiritual foundation. Each day the camp serves food to the children in the morning. Following the early morning drop-off by parents and breakfast, there is a brief assembly upstairs in the church’s sanctuary and then the children are off to class. Nate Howard is a member of the Brighter Day Ministries and also has three grandchildren attending the camp. He said, “My grandkids have attended several years. I support the camp because it is not only educational, but it is also Christian based and I believe children need a foundation.”
The first week of class, students were assessed to see where they fell on the educational level, as it relates to their age and grades. Pastor Lyles said this is important so that the teachers know exactly where each student is as it relates to reading, math and writing. The teachers are then able to group the students by the age categories and know what to focus on with particular students. “It’s a fun learning environment for all involved,” said one of the student teachers, which asked not to be identified.
While the camp leans on academics, it also incorporates fun activities for the children. They are able to have recess time and play with the other children who are attending. The church also has many board games that allow the children to learn group skills.
This year the camp also reached out to one of the city’s largest shelters, DC General to get young children to attend the camp. There were ten children from the shelter who were selected to attend the camp, through a process of interviewing. The children are attending the camp free of cost through donations from local businesses and church members. Pastor Lyles said he wanted to reach out to the shelter because many of the parents are not afforded the opportunity to send their children to a summer camp and he felt compelled that the church could help feel the void, even if only for a few families. “Ten kids may not be a lot, but it gives the children something to do rather than sitting around not being productive.”
The Summer Academic Camp runs every summer at Brighter Day Ministries Church. To find out more about how your child could attend please visit the website http://www.aps-ch.org/