CYS Services camp proves to be an ‘adventure’

Summer campers learned how to “Go Green” during Child, Youth and School Services’ Camp Adventure program. Children grew and harvested their own vegetables, went on nature walks and learned to recycle, at camps held from June 16 to Aug. 25 at the school age and youth centers on Robinson, Kelley and Patch Barracks, and Panzer Kaserne. 

The campers also “went for the gold” with Olympic-type activities to emphasize fitness. The campers participated in an opening ceremony that involved an obstacle course, tug-of-war, soccer, dodgeball and a parachute game. On other days, activities such as bicycle riding, dance routines and kickball, along with basketball, tennis, soccer and volleyball, kept the 2012 London Olympics in mind. Field trips were a highlight of the summer and this year, school-age campers had the opportunity to go to the Wilhelma Zoo, Experimenta, Sensapolis, Tripsdrill, Schwaben Park and Legoland.

Older campers found themselves with a myriad of choices, such as negotiating ropes courses, touring Schloss Solitude, learning the art of indoor climbing and shopping in Metzingen. For Jalen Badiste, 11, who attended the school age camp on Panzer, the sports activities and field trips were fun, but his favorite part of camp was “hanging out with the Camp Adventure people and getting to know everybody,” he said. Likewise, campers Olivia, 8, and Dominic Munoz, 11, eagerly woke up each morning, according to their mother, Amanda. “Both children are in German school, so it is a nice experience for them, because they get the American culture,” Munoz said.  “They love coming here.  It gives them more of a sense of identity.” Camp Adventure is a college-credit based program where college students who study fields such as education or psychology become counselors for a few months — not for pay, but for 12 college credits and the experience of working with children. The University of Northern Iowa-based program has been around since 1984, according to Andrea Post, a Camp Adventure project coordinator.  

Camp Adventure looks for students who are energetic, outgoing and active, and who love children and learning. “If you are not right for the program, we won’t take you,” she said.  

This summer, 17 counselors from universities across the U.S. took part in the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart program that included more than 2,000 children in grades one to 12. The counselors prepared for camp through a 10-week professional recreation training program held during their spring semesters, Post said.

Once in Stuttgart, the counselors also helped to develop activities for Camp Adventure, said Deborah Mandrell, a  USAG Stuttgart CYS Services child administrator. “They work hand-in-hand with our trainers to develop programming, but they also have criteria — reports and so on — that must be turned in to their universities,” Mandrell said. Despite the workload, Sasha Britton, a counselor with the Panzer School Age summer camp, signed on for a second summer with “Camp A.” The art education major at the University of Toledo said Camp Adventure gave her the opportunity to acquire the much needed experience working with children before she becomes a teacher. “I really love this program,” she said.