Summer Reading ProgramPhoto Courtesy of Lisa Campbell and Pam Bryce

"You get them to a certain point and you send them home and you know that certain children, just because of the background they come from or the ability of their parents to provide books for them... you know they're not going to come back at the same reading level they left," said elementary school English Language Specialist Cindy Van Duren.  "For the child that's extremely frustrating.  We've been wanting to do something to enrich their summer with more reading and writing.  Serious summer regression happens if children don't read and write in the summertime.  It's a long time to go without opening a book.  That's what we wanted to prevent."

Van Duren joined Lisa Campbell and Sandy Rapp in an attempt to put together a summer reading and writing camp that would help first, second and third graders maintain their reading skill level, connect the books they read to local experiences, and to just have fun.  Campbell approached the Lansing Lions Club three years ago, and immediately received leads and suggestions.  And the club raised $2,000 to help fund the camp.  This month Campbell, Van Duren and Pam Bryce attended a Lions Club meeting to thank the members for their support and report on the camp.

"I was here three years ago," Campbell said.  "At that meeting I talked to you about our long term goal, to have a reading camp for children that really needed it.  But here we are three years later and it finally happened.  it happened in great part because of you and other community organizations."

Bryce and fellow elementary school teacher Tyler Engels taught the camp, which attracted 19 students from the 35 invitations that were sent to families.  The camp met in the various buildings around the Town hall campus, including sessions at the Lansing Community library and a visit to the Field one room school house where Town Historian Louise Bement told them about what it was like to go to school in Lansing over 150 years ago.  A nature walk connected to books about nature, and kids loved the things they found along the way.

Summer Reading CampLisa Campbell (center), and R. C. Buckley Elementary School English Language Specialists Cindy Van Duren (left) and Pam Bryce (right) were at the Lansing Lions Club meeting to talk about the successes of the Summer Reading Program, for which the Lions donated $2,000.

"They loved the possum skeleton -- that was awesome," Bryce reported.  "We found eggs and some great feathers.  it was fun and the kids were thrilled.  We did rubbings and collecting and things like that that went along with nature books we read."

Each camp day started with breakfast, and included regular individual and group reading, writing, a 'read-aloud' session, a meeting and an activity.  Activities ranged from a visit to the osprey nest on Salt Point to the school house visit to a local storyteller to a hike along the Murdock Spur Story Walk, part of the Lansing Town Trail near Scoops Ice Cream stand.

"It's a nature path.  They printed the pages of a nonfiction book, 'Owl Babies', a beautiful picture book.  You walk along and you read a page,"Bryce told the Lions.  "It surprised me because I wasn't expecting the kids imaginations to be so inspired by this book among the beautiful trees, and they're imagining they're seeing owls up in the knot holes... and what's going to come out of the hole in the ground... it was really a lot of fun to make that connection with a really lovely picture book and actually being in nature and being able to read and think and imagine and connect."

As they visited local attractions around town they saw many of the 'Little Free Libraries' and other resources Lansing Loves To Read and other local organizations have scattered around town.  Little Free Libraries can be found at Salt Point, Myers Park, Scoops (that the 6th grade class made last year), outside of the Middle School, and the newest one at the Town Ball field built and donated by the Webelos I Den of Cub Scout Pack 48.  Kids are encouraged to take books from these locations, and bring books to them.

Field School HouseThe Summer Reading Camp visited the historic Field School, where Town Historian Louise Bement told them what it was like to go to school in a one room school house. Photo Courtesy of Lisa Campbell and Pam Bryce

"We have books everywhere," Campbell said.  "They're at Lansing Pizza, Linda's Diner, we have a community bookshelf here that you folks made, we have one at Lansing Market.  We tried to get them every place that we could.  When Lansing Loves to Read gets book donations from our greater community we share them.  We share them with Pathways, we put them into the Little Free Libraries, we put them on our book shelves."

Bryce told the Lions that they would like to expand the program next summer, getting more of the kids to attend for two weeks and adding a teacher so they can increase enrollment.

"It was a great experience, and I think the kids benefited from it," she said.  "It gave them a nice boost to get ready to go back to school, and they all went home with books that had been donated.  It turned out to be a great summer."

In addition to the Lansing Lions Club, Lansing Loves to Read, the PTSO, Friends of the Lansing Community Library, Lansing Community Library, Friends of Salt Point, Lansing Community Council, Lansing Historical Association, Lansing Market and the Lansing Recreation Department supported the camp.