Christ Church Episcopal School
Q&A with Jessica Apple, teacher
CCES offers a wide spectrum of summer camps for PreK - 12th grade; there are 210 sessions over the course of 11 weeks. You can sign up for art, music, sports, academics, or explorative themes. There’s even Quidditch.
Jessica Apple has been with the school for twelve years. She has been a camp instructor for nine, and spent five as the Spanish teacher for kindergarten and first grade. Here’s what she had to say about the experience.
Did you attend camp as a kid?
I never went to a traditional sleepaway camp, but I did get to attend many art and sports camps that I really enjoyed. I have great memories of making new friends and learning new things during the summers.
How is teaching a camp different from teaching school?
It’s a completely different experience. There is a high level of energy at camp, because it’s summer and the atmosphere is a little bit more relaxed than during the school year. We capitalize on that energy and dive into many fun hands-on projects that also incorporate learning. For example, we make exploding playdough volcanoes (Playdough Camp), paint with our feet (Messy Art Camp), and make designs that light up (Circuit Inventions).
The experience I’ve accumulated with all of my years of teaching has really helped me be more effective in the camp environment. Planning for camp starts months before camp begins and a lot of elements go into planning a successful camp. I know how to choose projects that children will enjoy and learn from, how to transition smoothly between projects, and how to schedule the day between slower paced projects versus high-energy activities. All this comes together and translates into the camp running smoothly and the children learning and having as much fun as possible during camp!
What have you learned as a summer camp instructor?
I find that children can do much more than people expect as long as you provide up-front instructions and guidance and help them along the way. Every camp class is small in size and I generally have two assistants. We are always there to help the students achieve the end result and understand the process, but we don’t complete the project for them. One example is Canvas A Day Camp where the students paint a new painting each day. We paint on a variety of canvas sizes -- 8 x 10s, 11 x 14s, & even one huge 16 x 20! I paint at the front on my own canvas and teach them the steps and techniques, but I do not paint on their painting. At the end I’m always blown away by the paintings the students make and take home. They do such an incredible job and their creativity really shines through!
If you were going to sign up for a session, which would you take?
This is a tough choice! So many exciting camps ranging over a huge variety of topics makes this a hard question to answer!
One camp I’m really excited about is Relief Printmaking for 3rd – 5th graders. We will be learning about the process of relief printmaking, starting with studying print designs and understanding the concept of positive and negative images. From there we will make our own design using foam plates. We will keep building on the steps we’ve learned and each student will get to carve their own rubber block, followed by linoleum blocks. By the end of the week the students will have several completed prints to take home for decoration and will also have printed their unique designs on a zippered pouch.
Another great camp is Paw Patrol, which is always extremely popular and is already sold out. But don’t be afraid to get on the waitlist – you never know what might happen! This camp teaches about our community and we get to enjoy a visit from firemen with their firetruck and also the safety house. Since Paw Patrol is about dogs of course we have to have a K-9 with his police officer come pay us a visit. We love watching the police officer teach us about how his dog follows all his commands.
I also teach two cooking camps: A Taste of Summer, and Cooking through Europe. The students each get their own cooking station and learn chopping and peeling techniques as well as how to measure – and of course kitchen safety. In A Taste of Summer, we focus on using the delicious fresh seasonal ingredients that summer offers for all of our dishes. In Cooking Through Europe, we make dishes from a variety of countries, all from scratch. We make our own pasta dough and pesto sauce, crepes, Irish pancakes, tapas meatballs, and other items.
What do you think parents should know about CCES camps?
Not only do children have fun during our summer camps, but they also learn as they go. We strive to provide new experiences, teach new skills, and in the majority of camps children leave with many tangible products that they have created throughout the week. And we keep the class sizes small. This allows children to leave a one week camp with a sense of accomplishment of having created something new that they now treasure.
At least 60% of campers are students at other schools. It’s a great opportunity to experience our stellar faculty and beautiful campus for a week of in-depth education.
In 2016, Summer Encounters hosted 1300 students from over 90 different schools. To join them this year, visit the website to learn more and register.