The last day of Berry Fun Camp ended with a blast – from a firehose.
After a Thursday that included the grade school-aged kids making their own ice cream in a bag, the Logansport Fire Department came to talk about fire safety and to let the kids play in the water as the firehose shot into the sky and rained on them.
It was a week of making dream catchers, discovering the fundamentals of bubbles, learning the math behind water balloons and other activities with a hidden educational aspect.
“It’s just been fun, and the kids don’t realize they’re learning,” Cass County Community Foundation Director Deanna Crispen said.
The camp started because the foundation reached out to the Cass County school districts, concerned about kids that were having trouble because COVID-19 distancing kept them away from the structure of school.
After talking with Logansport elementary teachers, they designed Berry Fun Camp with the teachers planning the curriculum and the foundation picking up the costs.
“It’s money well, well spent,” Crispen said. “I’m thinking this is the pilot to have this every year.”
The program had more than 80 kids from kindergarten to fifth grade.
They went 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Thursday with the kids getting a breakfast at the start and a snack before going home.
Each Logansport elementary school was its own unit around town, and Columbia Elementary School was at Riverside Park with the biggest group — 34 kids showing up on Thursday, some not enrolled but wanting to be part of the fun.
“Seeing the kids excited for learning, that’s just real big for me. We’re able to do things we can’t in the classroom,” said Nicole Ross, a first grade teacher from Columbia Elementary School.
She couldn’t say no to those who wanted to be part of it, either.
Although the program was designed for at-risk students, each Logansport elementary teacher was asked for a list of three students they thought would benefit from the program.
That included kids that would be interested in the science behind the projects.
Instead of a traditional classroom, they were at the old Dentzel Carousel building doing hands-on work.
The kids enjoyed being part of it, too.
“You get to do cool stuff. You made stuff,” said 8-year-old Xavier Gomez, who’s going into third grade.
For him, making the ice cream was the most fun.
“You get to do it by yourselves,” he said.
The kids put milk into one smaller plastic bag and then shook it vigorously after it was put into a larger bag filled with ice and salt.
Ross led the kids in a parade around the building as they shook.
Gomez wants to try making it at home.
Ella Williams, 6, going into first grade, liked the fire truck finale.
“I got wet,” she said.
However, the ice cream was her favorite part, too, and the best part of making it was eating it afterwards, she added.
If Berry Fun Camp ends up being a pilot program, Ross thinks it can be expanded.
“I’d like to have more kids and more teachers to help with it,” Ross said. “I’d like to see it run two or three weeks, like a regular summer school program.”