Teenagers and adults often look back at their memories of summer camp as some of the fondest of their childhood. And why not?! What teenager or adult wouldn’t love to spend eight weeks every year playing basketball, softball and kickball, swimming, having free play in the park, going on trips, and spending time with friends and counselors who care for them? And what child doesn’t look forward to two months free from the pressures of the common core and standardized testing while getting several hours everyday to socialize, exercise and strengthen important social and emotional skills that serve us so well as adults later in life?
The Learning Tree Summer Camp has a simple philosophy of child development that yields tremendous results for the hundreds of children who attend their camp every year. When given what they need (exercise, free play and a safe environment) children learn important life skills such as negotiation, teamwork, making friends and self-regulation that have wonderful unintended consequences. They become well behaved and are able to work out their problems without the constant intervention of an adult. Although academic success is always at the forefront of parental concerns, The Learning Tree parents are appreciative that their children look forward to coming to place where they can play and mature in a natural and developmentally appropriate manner.
The Learning Tree, operating for over 40 years, has used this simple philosophy to create a year round program consisting of nursery school, Pre-K, after school and summer camp to challenge children socially and academically. During summer camp, the children have a mix of indoor and outdoor play that consists of counselor organized activities and well as supervised free play. The children make use of Juniper Valley Park where they play softball, kickball, tag or any child created game. The younger group (ages 2-4) also use the outdoor play area at The Learning Tree nursery school. The older groups (ages 5-13) are run out of St. Margaret’s Church in Middle Village where they make use of their two air conditioned indoor gyms. The Learning Tree also has two pools on premises where everyone is given swim time every day, weather permitting!
All of this is done under the supervision of a year round staff. The classroom teachers become head counselors and assistant teachers and part time staff round out the roster, creating a consistently warm and friendly environment. Newcomers are made to feel like they’ve been part of the group for years and children and parents are often surprised how comfortable they feel after only a few days in the program.
The directors, father and son Abe and Brett Shampaner have an uncomplicated view of child development. When children are given what they need, they respond with a strong work ethic and respect for their teachers and empathy towards their friends. This has created an environment that has produced fine young men and women in our community.