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Waiting to Excel summer camp open house this week

Organizers hoping to prevent summer learning loss by Caitlan Butler | May 31, 2023 at 12:00 a.m.

The 16th annual Waiting to Excel summer camp will start soon, and an open house is scheduled this week to give parents a sneak peak of what campers will learn.

"We're basically just giving an overview of what we'll be doing in the camp, which is focusing on literacy and reading, math, social skills and some community engagement," said camp organizer Wayne Gibson. "Mainly it's to let those who will be coming see the teachers, let their parents meet the teachers."

The open house is set for this Thursday, June 1, at 6 p.m. at St. John Baptist Church, 1016 Wilson St.

Gibson said the camp has space for approximately 60-65 students. The cost for camp has increased slightly, due to additional costs incurred to organize the seven-week program, to $20 per week.

"Some parents have three or more attending – we try to be flexible with parents on the payment," Gibson said. "It's not about making money, it's just to help defray our costs."

Gibson said the Waiting to Excel camp will be staffed with certified teachers as well as paraprofessionals from the El Dorado School District. Mondays through Thursdays will be filled with instruction, while Fridays will be "fun days."

"We ask each of our elementary principals to give us some focus areas that we should be targeting in order to enhance what the school district does," Gibson said.

The week of July 4, students will host a luncheon for local veterans and first responders. Guest speakers are also scheduled throughout the summer, including ESD Science Chair Carolyn Smith and more.

"She's always a big hit with the kids," Gibson said.

The Waiting to Excel camp is open to rising Kindergarteners through rising 6th-graders. Campers will be provided breakfast, lunch and snacks during the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily program.

Gibson said the main goal of the camp is to prevent summer learning loss.

"Our primary aim is to help students not have as much learning loss during the summer as they go back to school in the fall. We want to keep them engaged," he said. "We want students to be 'waiting to excel' when they enter the new school year."

The social skills, free meals and community engagement opportunities are also important, he said.

"Also, we want to help young people be ready to appreciate and receive the El Dorado Promise in a few years ... and the other incentives that the El Dorado Education Foundation awards."

The Waiting to Excel summer camp will be held June 12-July 27. Registration forms will be available at the open house on Thursday, or from Vicki Dobson, who can be reached at 870-665-0339.

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