Summer in the City: Strengthening Our Roots at Camp Corlears

At Corlears, school isn’t exactly out for summer. While graduation marks the end of the school year, and an important next step for our 10s, it certainly does not mark the end of the learning that happens within the walls of the school. During the summer months, Corlears hosts a number of students, new and old, for its camp programming. This year, the revitalized Camp Corlears is providing a place for students to continue to express their creativity, and feed their curiosity in a safe, familiar setting.

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This year, camp has been infused with new energy. The newly named Camp Corlears will offer programming for children 3 through 11, with some friendly faces taking on the role of counselors. Our youngest campers (rising 3s and 4s) can enjoy a half day of summer fun as part of our Super Saplings program. Here these young students will enjoy a plethora of art activities and play time in our yard. Rising Ks and 6s will have the classic day camp experience in Budding Branches. These campers will spend their summer days engaging in investigation activities based around exciting weekly themes, and travel to the 14th street Y for swimming lessons. Our oldest campers will take their learning out of the classroom finding inspiration around the city. These Urban Explorers will travel to a variety of parks, exploring the various elements that make up parks and what purposes they serve to the communities in which they are built. Campers will then create their own parks based on what they have investigated; taking into consideration the purpose of each element they choose. These students will also cool off from all of their adventures in the great New York outdoors with twice-a-week swimming! Camp Corlears will also offer After-Camp, which will provide campers with an opportunity for an extended afternoon of games, projects, and play in the Corlears yard. Our goal with after-camp is to provide an engaging continuation of the Camp Corlears day that accommodates parents and makes Camp Corlears accessible for our entire community.

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Camp gives students a chance to grow in a variety of important ways. Their social-emotional growth continues through the summer as they make new friends, practice cooperation and collaboration both inside the classroom and out. With Corlears teachers serving the roles of counselors, they will bring the same expertise and care that is evident every day during the school year, and continue to nurture student development at Camp Corlears. This year counselors include Brian, Nyesha, Dora, Kate, Kelly, Rebecca and Theresa! With thoughtfully planned program and enthusiastic facilitation, these teachers will provide students with a safe space to continue to learn and grow into the new school year. Another friendly face you can expect to see at Camp Corlears is Alex Gelman, Director of Auxiliary Programs and Community Engagement, who is back for his second year as camp director. Camp has a very special place in Alex’s heart. As an alum and former assistant Camp Director of Camp Harlam, Alex spent 18 summers there, starting as a camper at age 9 and working up to a full-time Assistant Director for three years, from 2012-2014. With Camp Corlears, Alex takes his enthusiasm for the camp experience and marries it with the values of the school. Reflecting on the camp experience here, Alex says: "What I love about Camp Corlears is that it takes what is wonderful about Corlears during the school year, and shifts it into the summer environment. While Camp Corlears focuses on play and recreation without the explicit instruction of the school year, we don't sacrifice any of that feeling of community and hospitality that makes Corlears so special. Our counselors -- all Camp Corlears teachers themselves -- still make sure we start each day with a morning meeting, still greet each child with a hug and a smile, and still craft activities that engage and affirm every camper in the group. I also love getting to see children who will be new to Corlears in the coming school year attend Camp Corlears. It gives them an opportunity to make new friends, bond with adults, and see Corlears as their new home, before the school year even begins." Camp Corlears was designed with our community at its core, both in considering our current students’ and families’ needs and expectations, as well as serving as an entry point for new students.

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While current students can stay connected through our summer programming, camp has proven to be a wonderful transition tool for new students. Each year we invite new Corlears families to enroll in order to give their young child(ren) the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the school that will soon become an essential part of their daily lives. Camp provides these young learners with an opportunity to have their first classroom experience where they can start building relationships with friends and teachers, and partake in the routines that they will later enjoy during their days in the classroom. It is a fun and effective way for these new students to get acquainted with the faces and spaces that they can expect to see come September. Corlears parent, Elizabeth Cuccaro, enrolled her son in camp prior to his Kindergarten year. Reflecting on her experience, Elizabeth says “we have been thrilled with the gentle and sweet fun that our son has had...The staff went out of their way to make him feel at home, and fostered a relaxed but well organized and attentive atmosphere… Best of all, summer camp at Corlears provided the perfect runway to full-time Kindergarten. By September, our son was even more at ease in the space and among his new friends and the wonderful staff.”

The summer months serve an opportunity for Corlears community to not only grow bigger, but stronger. Students enrolled in Camp Corlears will stretch their imaginations, make new friends, and help welcome new community members. Between all of the various options available to campers, Camp Corlears serves to facilitate the learning that happens during the school year into the warmer months while allowing for plenty of summer fun.