, Derry, New Hampshire

July 25, 2013

Derry students enjoy 'Create Your Own Camp"

Students try everything from baking to technology

By Julie Huss

---- — DERRY — Eva Lyons studied her collection of paper, ribbon and glittery twine carefully before making her final artistic choices.

The 10-year-old was one of many Derry students enjoying the school district’s annual Create Your Own Camp workshops and classes.

Every year, the district offers two-week sessions full of unique and educational class choices.

This year the list was full of archery, quilting, music, technology, games, arts and crafts, and even cake decorating. More than 100 students signed up for one or more classes.

Serena Levine, director of supplemental services has led the summer enrichment charge for about 10 years, but summer programs began in town long before that.

“It’s evolved through the years,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of different things.”

For the past several years, the program has been touted as Create Your Own Camp, where children in all grades up through middle school could choose from a list of classes taught by district teachers, staff and community members.

Levine said planning starts in February. She puts out a call to teachers and the community at large, looking for people who might want to teach a summer class.

That teacher could be someone with a hidden passion for baking, or a staff member who loves to do art when they are not in the classroom teaching another subject.

“I look for people who have something they would like to share,” Levine said. “We get people who do all types of things. It’s usually a passion of theirs and there are some really great stories.”

For the mixed media art class, the teacher is Trisha DeGirolama, a middle school counselor in the Derry district.

Levine said DeGirolama had a lot of other talents to offer, taking on not only the art class, but also cake decorating and a “Bubble-ology” course for younger students.

Another popular class was the “Walk the Plank: A Pirate’s Life for Me.”

It seems there is always a big draw for learning all about being a pirate.

“It was one of our biggest sellers this year,” Levine said.

The summer program is always a self-supporting venture, with money charged for classes that goes back into paying for teachers and supplies.

In addition to the regular two-week sessions, a band camp session is also offered for middle-school students. A concert was held last Friday to conclude that session.

Levine said every summer it’s something different when it comes to planning the camp sessions.

“We pretty much do anything that anyone is willing to try,” she said. “And they have been having such a good time this year.”