For 10 weeks this summer, Academy Hall will be home to a group of 5- to 7-year-olds who will spend their days exploring space, discovering dinosaurs, and engaging in typical warm-weather pursuits: swimming, picnicking, and the occasional water-balloon battle.
On the east edge of campus, 8- to 12-year-old campers will write and perform their own plays, investigate career options, and embark on adventures including hiking, biking and, even, river rafting.
Most of the campers are sons and daughters of staff at Rensselaer and Northeast Health, which have partnered for more than a decade to provide convenient, quality child care as a benefit for their personnel. Full-time day care, for children ages 8 weeks through kindergarten, is offered at the Samaritan-Rensselaer Children’s Center at Samaritan Hospital. The Center’s RPI Summer Day Camp, for children who are graduates of kindergarten through age 12, is held at Rensselaer and has space for 80 campers.
“This is truly a collaborative program, and we encourage our faculty, staff, and students to take advantage of it,” said Paul Martin, Rensselaer assistant vice president for administration and president of the board of directors of Samaritan-Rensselaer Children’s Center. “Part of our contribution, at Rensselaer, is to provide facilities for the summer to host the day camp program and offer access to some of our recreational facilities, including the pool.”
To ensure that activities reflect campers’ interests and maturity levels, the Children’s Center runs two distinct summer programs, one each for younger and older children. Each program serves 40 campers.
Younger campers delve into a different theme each week and enjoy theme-related field trips. Last summer’s “space week” included a trip to a planetarium. “Healthy foods week” incorporated an excursion to an organic farm.
Older children choose from a selection of clubs that are targeted to campers’ interests. Participants in last summer’s drama club scripted a play, built props, and performed their production at area child-care centers. Campers who chose the adventure club went hiking on the Indian Ladder Trail and bicycled along the river path to Albany. Those who opted for the volunteer club assisted preschool children with disabilities by helping in classrooms and holding a bake sale to raise funds for supplies.
“Our camp appeals to children who are interested in doing and trying a lot of different things,” explains Deirdre Greco, director, Samaritan-Rensselaer Children’s Center. “Younger children enjoy the challenge of something new each week, and older campers can sample a variety of ‘clubs.’ ”
The summer camp runs from June 23 through Aug. 28. Parents can register their children for as many weeks as they’d like and can choose from several options: the full week, two days a week, or three days a week. Applications are available at http://summer.rpi.edu/update.do? artcenterkey=15 and are due by April 18. Applications submitted after that date will be considered based on available vacancies.
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