2014-05-23 / Community

Options aplenty at Summer Day Camp

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


Mark Jago, left, director of Kennebunk’s Summer Day Camp, poses with Assistant Camp Director Justin Grant during a planning session for the upcoming camp season. Grant is a computer teacher at Kennebunk Elementary School, and Jago, a substitute teacher in the district and retired head of Greater Houlton Christian Academy. This is Jago’s second year as camp director. (Courtesy photo) Mark Jago, left, director of Kennebunk’s Summer Day Camp, poses with Assistant Camp Director Justin Grant during a planning session for the upcoming camp season. Grant is a computer teacher at Kennebunk Elementary School, and Jago, a substitute teacher in the district and retired head of Greater Houlton Christian Academy. This is Jago’s second year as camp director. (Courtesy photo) KENNEBUNK – Mark Jago, retired head of school for Greater Houlton Christian Academy, has big plans for the Kennebunk Recreation Department’s Summer Day Camp program.

Available to students ages 5 to 12, or kindergarten through sixth grade, Summer Day Camp provides a bounty of activities for kids to engage in without venturing far from home.

Activities include a variety of sports, group activities such as scavenger hunts, field trips to nearby beaches and water parks and, new this year, music and theater.

“I think it’s healthier for kids, as well as adults, to be involved with Summer Day Camp, not only to recreate, but also to socialize,” said Recreation Director Brian Costello. “Kids are meeting kids, parents are meeting kids and other parents. It’s definitely healthier than sitting in front of a TV all day and hearing your child say ‘I’m bored’ and ‘When does school start again?’”

This is Jago’s second year as director of the camp. Now retired, Jago spent his career within the walls of schools, first as a teacher before founding Greater Houlton Christian Academy in 1993.

Jago and his wife have since moved to Kennebunk to be closer to their five daughters.

“When you have been in the school realm for as long as I have, you usually end up away from the classroom,” Jago said. “I really enjoy being with the children at the Summer Day Camp, and my involvement is very much hands-on. I like to get involved with the activities.”

“While there are many choices out there for parents to consider for their children for summer camps, I think one thing that stands out, if I were a parent looking for quality staff as well as the program, that’s where I would take a hard look at Kennebunk Summer Day camp,” Jago said.

Both Costello and Jago praised the summer camp counselors.

“We have definitely the most educated, experienced staff I have ever seen, and this is going to be my 29th summer here,” Costello said. “We have people with master’s degrees – one in child psychology – teachers and professionals. It’s just incredible and we are very fortunate to have these people work for us.”

“We have other counselors who are either teaching or have been teaching or are education majors,” Jago said. “Justin Grant, a computer teacher from Kennebunk Elementary School, will be my assistant and a familiar face for many of the campers.

“For the counselors it’s not just a summer job. These are quality professionals who have chosen to work with children out of their love for being with children or mentoring and teaching.”

Also new to the camp this year is the health and wellness coordinator.

“We’re looking to focus more on promoting overall wellness for our campers, meaning that they’re going to be taught in fun ways how to be healthier or become health conscious in choosing healthier foods, participating in stress reduction activities and exercise,” Jago said.

The sixth-grade campers are allowed more privileges and participate more in activities involving the community, such as fundraising, volunteering at places like Huntington Common and an increased number of field trips.

“They go to field trips at Funtown, Aquaboggan Water Park, Sea Dogs games, swimming, and hiking,” Costello said. “For fundraisers, they host car washes, a penny carnival, and at the camp itself they might do special events with the campers.

“They’re like a program within a program. We have them separate because they’re at the age when they’re about to move to middle school.”

Summer Day Camp isn’t just about filling time with fun activities, Jago said.

“In my experience, if all you do is provide fun activities, it becomes circular and the kids never get to experience what it means to serve and look outside of themselves,” Jago said. “The real benefit of growth in their lives, mentally and socially, really comes when they begin focusing on how they can be of help to others, whether it be with their peers, or community or even the elderly.

“Those are some of the things we’re going to be adding and incorporating in our program this summer. We’re going to seek to accentuate character-building, sportsmanship and teamwork.

“When we create a very positive, nurturing environment, and encourage the children with positive affirmation, they tend to feel very good about themselves.”

Summer Day Camp begins June 23. Campers can opt for a two-week, fourweek, or full eight-week session. Camp ends Aug. 15.

“Putting aside all the work, Summer Day Camp is a lot of fun and the kids are great, and that is what has drawn me back to being the camp director again,” Jago said. “I think we all feel their energy and love it when we can have a positive impact in their lives.”

For more information on Summer Day Camp, or to sign up for a session, visit www.kennebunkrec.com.

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