University City

750 choices for summer camps

Though most students still have about three months of classroom time to endure, summer vacation is near.

Many parents remember summers full of endless play and relaxation, but times have changed.

During the school year, children are expected to learn much more at a faster pace, and those skills must be kept sharp over the summer.

Dr. Patrice Petroff, chairman and director of Teacher Education at Queens University of Charlotte, says learning should continue during the summer - but that doesn't mean a child must study for hours.

"It's critical to help children actively engage in the learning process during the summer months," Petroff said.

"This doesn't mean limiting them to a formal educational setting; (they can have) experiences that actively engage them in acquiring new knowledge such as visual arts, drama, athletics, music, building with Legos - anything that will cognitively challenge them and keep their minds active," he said.

Today, The Charlotte Observer's community newspapers feature hundreds of camps near your neighborhood, with a wide range of offerings from art to athletics. You will find the camp lists in Observer newspapers circulated in the Lake Norman area, Charlotte, south Charlotte, Catawba, Gaston, Iredell, Cabarrus, Union and York counties.

If you want a complete list of the region's camps, go online to www. charlotte observer .com/living .

Now is the time to do research, make reservations and put down a deposit. Most of the region's camps and classes fill quickly.

Summer camp "will make it much easier for young people when they return to school in the fall. The brain is an organ that needs to be simulated to improve its function and prevent cognitive decline," said Petroff.

Dr. Michael Green, an associate professor of Elementary Education at UNC Charlotte has firsthand experience with summer camps.

In 1991, Green and Dr. Jack Piel founded Math CAAMP - Comprehensively Applied Manipulative Mathematics Program - and the two have been directing the summer camps since.

Over the past 12 years, Green estimates they've helped more than 10,000 students in grades one through six.

"I'm actively involved in summer camps for kids because they do things for kids the schools don't do," Green said.

"Summer enrichment camps provide a different type of learning: different learning experiences based more on real-world problem-solving.

"Summer camps also provide an enriching cognitive experience that leads to a greater depth of understanding, as opposed to the shallowness of memorized facts," said Green.

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