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Leland Summer Camp Expands Horizons

Posted on: June 21, 2018

Caydence Bennett loves to eat ants, but only if they’re perched on a log.

“Oh, they taste so good,” said the 10-year-old Leland Elementary School student. “Everyone at camp loves them.”

In reality, those ants on a log are raisins in peanut butter on sticks of celery, and the camp is the Art of Living Smart, one of six summer programs offered by the Delta Health Alliance’s Deer Creek Promise Community. The B.B. King Museum in Indianola sponsors the program.

Each weekday for six weeks, 50 campers ages 8-17 learn about “Smart Living” – healthy eating, physical fitness, reading, music and art. They learn culinary arts; and how to prepare well-balanced meals, how to count calories, how to recognize the different food groups and the best ways to exercise. In between, there are art competitions, singing and dancing.

“To my knowledge, there’s never been a camp like this before in Leland,” said Verna Ransom, education coordinator for the summer program. “It’s new to the community, and the students are very engaged and parents are very enthusiastic.”

The goal of the camp, said Ransom, is for the students to leave at summer’s end with a greater knowledge and appreciation of how to live healthier lives. To accomplish that mission, campers are taught proper nutrition and the importance of exercise, and the link between the two.

In addition, the camp offers a vocabulary and literacy component that helps curb summer learning loss between school years. For Terron Morris, a 12-year-old Leland Middle School student, the camp is providing him the tools he can use in his quest to become the chief executive officer of a fashion design company.

“I like Ralph Lauren and Polo, and I want to design clothing like that,” said Terron. “The camp teaches arts and crafts and I’m able to learn different designs, and that can help me with what I want to do.”

Likewise, Zariyah Lee, 11, wants to be a dance teacher when she grows up. The camp offers a music and dance component “that will really help me. Dancing and music is the most fun.” Her friend, Makaila Welton, is learning the importance of exercise through push-ups, sit-ups and planks.

“I want to be a doctor to help other people in my community,” said Makaila, 8. “I can use what I learn at camp to help other people get into shape and eat well. At home, I do art with my mother that I learned right here. I would tell everyone that is a great camp to come to.”