Connections Spotlight — KinderCamp™ Returns This Summer

| April 30, 2021
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KinderCamp™ Returns to the Classroom
On a recent Saturday morning, a group of about 20 educators from Flagstaff, Williams and Pinetop-Lakeside met in the gymnasium of Kinsey Elementary School for a special orientation and training session.
Typically, rising early to sacrifice your day off for mandatory training doesn’t generate a lot of enthusiasm, but in this case the excitement was palpable. Why?
Because KinderCamp™ is coming back.
“There was just a buzz in the room,” said Sara Owen, the coordinator for the program that helps preschoolers with the foundational, social and academic skills needed to successfully transition into kindergarten. “People are really looking forward to being part of this again – and having it in person.”
2021 KinderCamp teachers at their recent training.
The program, one of United Way of Northern Arizona’s signature initiatives to Step Up for Our Youth, began in 2005 after a survey identified early childhood learning as a major concern in the region. The initial partnership between UWNA and the Flagstaff Unified School District has grown over the years to include school districts throughout northern Arizona.
Last year, due to the pandemic, classes could not be held, but organizers made it possible for parents and caregivers to bring the program into their homes with literacy kits distributed in the parking lots of elementary schools by KinderCamp teachers and staff.
“There were a lot of smiles,” remembered Owen. “It was a nice positive experience for the teachers and the kids. We really needed that last summer.”
Even though the program will be back in person this year, it will be modified because of COVID-19. Classes will be limited in size, masks will be required and the “Bridging Over” ceremony at the end of the three-week program will probably be a scaled-down celebration.
Items in the children's PPE items and a note thanking NACA for providing the kits
The program is getting some additional help from Native Americans for Community Action (NACA) Inc., which provided child-friendly PPE kits for this year’s attendees. The kits, put together by the NACA staff, include a package of child-size face masks, hand sanitizer and an adorable teddy bear keychain.
The PPE items were made possible by a grant from the National Council for Urban Indian Health, while the keychain was from another NACA program, Reach UR Life, a suicide prevention program aimed at teens.
NACA Director of Community Development Tallerita Tunney Rogers said the group jumped at the chance to help the KinderCamp program.
“I’m a social worker,” said Rogers, “and I know firsthand how important early childhood programs are to long-term success, both in education and in future careers.”
Rogers added that NACA is providing adult and child masks as well as certain hygiene products to those finding it challenging to purchase those items. Even though the organization’s focus is on indigenous people, the items are available to anyone who needs them.
The KinderCamp PPE kits NACA created for the students will be distributed at the KinderCamp orientation on June 8. This year’s program will be held from June 9 through June 30.
Donate to the United Way of Northern Arizona today and help fund agency partner programs through Community Investment Fund grants and initiatives like KinderCamp.
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Category: Education

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