Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/7/2009 (2829 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Sure, the kids at Sargent Park Arena are having fun and they're learning some science, but the University of Winnipeg has much grander motives for running its Eco-Kids camp.
"We call the concept a tap on the shoulder," U of W's Kevin Chief, co-ordinator of the university's Innovative Learning Centre, explained. "The No. 1 reason someone doesn't attend university, they haven't been asked in a meaningful way."
There are 130 kids ages seven to 12 from inner-city schools taking part in Eco-Kids each week this summer, an extension of the Eco-Kids program that brings elementary school children onto the U of W campus during the school year.
"We take kids out of school during the school day, they come on the campus and learn science through tenured faculty," Chief said.
For many of the children, it's their first time on a university campus. They're not only learning to be comfortable on campus, said Chief, they're also being encouraged and enabled to see themselves as students on that campus in a few years.
Whether it's January on campus or July at the camp, Eco-Kids plants the seed of higher learning long before children are of an age to come to university.
"Our leaders went in May and June and recruited them at their schools" in Winnipeg and River East Transcona school divisions, Chief said.
The camp kids wait outside their school each morning, where the Eco-Kids bus picks them up, further reinforcing the notion that the summer camp is part of their school experience.
Camp director Brittany Hilton said the goal is to move the program into the U of W's new science complex, maybe as early as next summer if construction allows. "It would be so great if we could get them on campus," said Hilton, a fourth-year environmental studies major and graduate of Vincent Massey Collegiate.
The camp kids do experiments and projects with a heavy emphasis on science, the environment and aboriginal culture.
"We're doing organic lunches. We're doing wasteless lunches," using as little packaging as possible, all of it recyclable or reusable, Hilton said.
She and the camp leaders, ages 14 to 23, will be taking the Eco-Kids to the Seine River in St. Vital, Hilton said.
"To get an environmental education, you've got to be in the environment. That's a really neat urban forest... get them into the ecosystem."
Chief said campers spend time learning about the earth, wind, fire and water through activities and play.
"We have cultural components to the piece," he said. "If we use the aboriginal perspective, it has to have a universal application to all children."