Camp kept students’ minds busy on day off from school
Mike Abrahamson leads LOL Improv in the auditorium as children pretend to have missed a lottery win by one number. The Oak Park Education Foundation hosted a Game Day at Percy Julian Middle School Monday for grades 3rd through 8th. | Jon Langham~for Sun
The Oak Park Education Foundation is accepting registrations for its BASE Camp in June for students now in grades K-7. Themes include “Time Warp Tales,” “Inside Out Architecture” and “Build a Bug.” Costs range from $105 to $365. The camps will be at Percy Julian and Gwendolyn Brooks middle schools. Visit www.opef.org/basecamp for more information or to register.
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:11AM
OAK PARK — Inspired by the viral YouTube video “Caine’s Arcade,” about a dozen middle school students team up to create an arcade out of appliance-sized cardboard boxes, Christmas lights and Velcro.
While they get to work in the cafeteria at Percy Julian Middle School, others are busy over in the auxiliary gymnasium.
There, fourth-graders Annika Ferguson from Whittier Elementary School and Esteban Linarez from Mann Elementary School create micro-mini putt-putt courses out of LEGOs and play with clubs that actually are cake toppers.
Meanwhile, Longfellow Elementary School third-grader John Vincent creates a board game out of pizza boxes and pieces from other old games.
“It’s kind of like Monopoly and Mindcraft mixed all together,” he said.
These were among the many activities offered to about 100 District 97 students Monday during Game Day, a first-time event sponsored by the Oak Park Education Foundation. The day was intended to give the students from grades three through eight a constructive outlet with regular classes canceled for Pulaski Day.
“Last time on Pulaski Day, I was sitting around playing video games. Basically, the weekends are when I sit around and do nothing,” said Hatch Elementary third-grader Joshua Riley as he glued wine corks, puzzle pieces and a plastic fish onto his board for a game he called Road Quest.
Game Day is part of the foundation’s BASE Camp summer education program. Foundation executive director Deb Abrahamson said the Game Day concept was developed with the assistance of District 97 teachers, who also lead the activities, at the request of parents.
“The parents are looking for something better for their kids to do than sit around and watch TV,” she said. “This is one more opportunity to reach our kids and serve lots of kids on a day when parents are looking for interesting things for kids to do.”
Game Day reinforces the educational mission of the foundation, Abrahamson said.
“We like to have projects that are hands-on, work with adults as mentors but really challenge the kid to new ways of thinking,” she said. “So creating your own arcade from nothing is really one of those ideas.”
Game Day also allows foundation officials to test activity concepts for the five regular types of programs it supports. For instance, a group of about 12 students were led in an improvisation activity in the auditorium.
“Improv is something we really haven’t done with our Art Start program yet, and we wanted to see how it would work,” Abrahamson said.