Summer Learning Project: YMCA of Greater Boston, Camp Ponkapoag

Lively chatter characterizes nature hikes taken by students and teachers/staff in the YMCA-BPS Summer Learning partnership: “There’s a group of chipmunks – what kind of habitat do they live in?”  Or later, as students stop to study a pool of water:  “What kinds of animals live in that pond and what do they need to eat to survive?”

These hikes are anything but dull for the 65 students enrolled in the YMCA-BPS partnership, which took place at Camp Ponkapoag in Blue Hills for three weeks and is wrapping up the last two weeks at Hale Reservation in Westwood.

Students are studying ELA through the American Reading Company’s animal theme, which includes books about food chains, ecosystems, life cycles, and habitats of nature’s animal kingdom. Voyager Math highlights students’ mathematical course content as they prepare to enter the 4th grade ready and able to learn.

The YMCA staff incorporates the site’s essential question -– “How are humans related to nature?” – within enrichment activities, which include hiking, archery, swimming, arts, science, and iPlay. YMCA staff members have been working diligently with BPS coaches to integrate academic content into the structured enrichment activities. For example, swimming offers an opportunity to study how the human body must adapt to water.

Students and teachers/staff are looking forward to today’s publishing party (August 10), in which students will display their personally written and illustrated books about nature to their families. And perhaps there will be time for a rigorous –but educational – hike covering habitats and food webs!