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The Largest Summer Camp in Indianola

Posted on: August 30, 2016
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Every day, campers at Project RISE summer camp chanted a theme song that encapsulated their feelings about the popular between-school program.

“Project RISE is the best!” they sang. “Our kids have the best grades! We’re always number one!”

With more than 100 campers from all grades, Project RISE is the largest of the 10 summer programs offered by the Delta Health Alliance’s Indianola Promise Community (IPC). The focus of the camp is to enhance and reinforce literacy, vocabulary and writing skills through creative and fun programs such as poetry, drama/theater production, spelling bees and arts enrichment. The camp is sponsored by On Track Community Development Corporation.

“Our goal to make sure there is no summer learning loss while creating a safe and fun environment for the kids,” said Carol Jackson, the camp’s director. “This is our third year and I think this camp has really made a difference in these kids’ lives.”

Project RISE (Reading Improvements for Success in Education) is an eight-week camp that has grown each year, offering instruction in every core subject taught in Indianola’s public schools. The camp is held in two locations, Indianola and Moorhead, and employs 35 teachers including college and high school assistants.

For campers such as Jamarion Walker, 6, this year’s program offered a computer discovery class that taught students how to navigate the Internet, explore educational websites and learn the basics of using a computer.

“I learned something new every day,” said Jamarion. “It was so much fun.”

Project RISE is now a year-round program with an after-school component that runs from September-May. About 60-70 students attended last school year. The focus is on reading comprehension, language arts skills and an added emphasis on math and science.

The after-school program includes arts and crafts, drama instruction with public performances, creative writing, physical fitness activities and health awareness projects such as meal preparation. On two Saturday’s each month, a college preparatory class is held for high school students to assist them with entrance exam studies and how to prepare for higher education.

Jackson points to the summer program as an ice breaker for many kids who begin camp socially reserved but emerge more extroverted.

“A lot of these kids are kind of shy and even afraid to read aloud,” Jackson explained. “But by the end of summer, they’re the first to raise their hands to read.”

Ricky Elam, a rising 6th grader, is one of those campers who left Project RISE with a new outlook on the upcoming school year.

“The teachers really encouraged me every day and they challenged me during the summer to be ready when school starts,” he said. “I had a lot of fun.