5th grade camp is a cherished tradition in the Russellville School District, a tradition which every single UE5G student looks forward to with an immense amount of anticipation and excitement. This year 5th grade camp took place the week of April 10-14 on the beautiful campus of Camp Aldersgate located in Little Rock, AR. While at camp students participated in a variety of outdoor adventures including fishing, canoeing, and archery in addition to a series of indoor events where they learned about wildlife and plants through multiple exciting and engaging games. Students also joined in chorus singing along to classic camp songs at group campfire and giggled at both the senior counselors skit and the movie Night at the Museum. The two day, one night trip to camp was truly an amazing experience, mirroring the experiences of camps past which is what inspired former UE5G storms, now Cyclone seniors, to volunteer and return as camp counselors.
This year a total of upwards of 44 seniors volunteered and were selected to serve as Camp Stormy counselors. As camp counselors, the high school students, paired in teams of 2-4, took on the responsibility of caring for anywhere between 14-16 5th grade students. This responsibility included serving dinner, leading the children to different activities, participating in games, and making 5th grade camp the best and most memorable experience ever for the students. However, 5th grade camp was not only an exciting adventure for the students of UE5G but also for the Cyclone counselors.
“Fun,” that was the word used by Monday/Tuesday Yellow Cabin counselor Matthew Campbell,’17, to describe camp. From canoeing to archery to the late night pillow fights and glow-in-the-dark dance parties orchestrated by seniors, camp was a full on celebration. Specific favorites of camp for Orange Cabin leader Selby Bailey, ’17, included canoeing with some of the girls from her cabin, “They were such sweethearts and were fun to be with!”
Other Cyclones such as Tyler Tracy, ’17, stated that their favorite part was watching the kids have fun,”They enjoyed both canoeing and just running around playing with one another. I like the independence that they had. The kids didn’t have a teacher constantly hovering over them. I could see a transformation in some of these kids, and I observed many of them start to open up.” Hale,’17, reaffirmed this view saying, “Seeing the kids get excited to do each of the activities and want to talk to us as counselors was most definitely a highlight.”
“Smile-worthy-chaos,” according to Tracy is the very definition of experiencing camp as a 5th grade counselor. Trying to differentiate himself from his own 5th grade counselors who were, “very strict and closed,” Tracy provided a more loose and relaxed environment for the kids in his cabin which in his opinion, “made the time infinitely better for the campers.”
Tracy admitted that maintaining both a friendly and authoritative relationship with the children was at times difficult, “Most of the kids came to see us as friends, but that also meant that they didn’t always listen to us.” However, he asserted that it was well worth it to see the kids enjoy themselves, “The freedom we offered allowed them to make more memories and experience quality time away from home, which was a first for some of these kids.”
Acting as counselors at camp took a large amount of dedication and effort from the Cyclone seniors. After all, as any teacher or parent will tell you watching 14-16 kids at one time is no easy task. Tyler Tracy stated that, “None of the kids were bad by themselves, but together, their energy was combined and then squared.” This exuberant display of sheer excitement and delight by the students however made camp all the more fun to work at.
Going back to 5th grade camp as counselors was a truly amazing experience for senior Cyclones, so much so it lead Matthew Campbell to state he “enjoyed camp more as a counselor because it was fun to go back and remember the good ole days.”
Whether a 5th grader experiencing camp for the first time or a high school senior coming back for a seconds, Camp Story holds a special place in the heart of each Russellville School District Students, becoming a cherished memory.