For the 14th year, students in grades 2 through 6 who reside in the Jim Thorpe Area School District will be able to enjoy a summer day camp at Memorial Park in Jim Thorpe.
The program runs from June 14 through Aug. 6 with a morning session running from 9 a.m. to noon and an afternoon session from 12:30 until 3:30 p.m. There will be no program July 2 and July 5. The program is free.
The camp will include a number of outdoor activities for kids, including arts, crafts, sports and games. Each Wednesday, there will be a trip to Mauch Chunk Lake Park, with buses leaving Memorial Park at 10 a.m.
All children must register with a parent at the camp, one time only. Children attending all day must bring a lunch. All kids must sign in and sign out daily. Campers may attend any or all sessions.
On Tuesday evening, Jim Thorpe Area School District board member Randall Smith met with a committee of students who will run the camp this year.
The students are currently studying to become teachers, some of them special education teachers. Two of the students involved in the camp this year, Garth Homer and Madison Hefflinger, are seniors at Jim Thorpe Area High School.
The program is made possible, in part, by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), which administers student aid, including work study. Some of the college students involved in the program are enrolled in work study; for others it's a summer job.
"We believe that this is part of providing a healthy environment for kids," said Smith. "It's good for them to be outside in a supervised environment, playing during the summer. That's better than sitting in front of some video game."
In addition to PHEAA, many local sponsors help make the program possible. Sponsors include the Jim Thorpe Rotary Club, the Jim Thorpe Area School District, the Borough of Jim Thorpe, the Jim Thorpe National Bank, the Mauch Chunk Trust Company, the Jim Thorpe Lion's Club and Charles Getz. The borough handles the payroll for the program.
"You won't find another program like this in our area," Smith said. "Because our sponsors have been so generous over the years, this program is still free to our students."
Michelle Franko is the head counselor for the program. She's a college senior who has been with the Jim Thorpe program for three years.
"Every kid has different needs and reacts differently to situations," she said "That can make it challenging."
But Franko said that there were big rewards for working the camp. She said working with autistic children was one of her favorite parts of the program.
"It's great to see them do things they weren't able to do at the beginning of the program."
Suzanne Lynn has also been working in the program for three years.
"The biggest challenge is keeping the kids busy," she said. She didn't hesitate at all when asked what the best part of the experience was. "The hugs," she said.