July 21, 2006
By ANNIE TASKER, Courant Staff Writer
Even as Genesis Meneses, a member of the Camp Courant Communication Club, walked around with notebook in hand and primed for note-taking, the promise of pool time was apparent in the swimsuit peeking out from under her T-shirt.
Genesis, 10, can't get enough of the pool. It's her favorite part of camp. "It's the time you get to be free," she said.
It's Genesis' first year at Camp Courant, a free summer camp for Hartford kids 5 to 12, and she loves it already. Almost all of her friends from Sanchez Elementary School are there, she said, and she gets pool and sprinkler time every day.
Genesis is one of nearly a thousand Hartford children who have gathered at the Farmington campground this summer for the camp's 112th year.
"The mission of the camp is to provide a safe summer sanctuary where children develop positive relationships, learn and have fun," said Beth Gibbs, the camp's director. "It's fun, it's friends, and they're going to remember a lot of special activities."
The campers are broken into four groups in their age range, and rotate among the camp's main activities: playground, sports, arts and crafts, and swimming. There are special activities within those groups, many based on the camp's theme for this year: making healthy choices.
Campers can take yoga classes, get free dental screenings, listen to speakers from local health organizations and participate in healthy eating activities sponsored by the University of Connecticut.
They can also cluster 10 to a table to play foosball, swing on the swing sets, play basketball and make their own Styrofoam race cars.
It's time for a snack when the kids line up behind a table of Styrofoam bowls filled with corn on the cob. Lining the table in front of the bowls of corn are condiments: lime juice, mayonnaise, garlic powder and parmesan cheese. Each camper takes a corn cob and goes down the line, glopping on this and sprinkling on that, personalizing their snack.
One camper wasn't a fan.
"That's nasty. I'm not going to eat that. I'm gonna throw it at him," he said, jerking his thumb toward the camper before him in line.
But from the looks of it, the other campers didn't agree. Most of the kids who had already prepared the corn to their liking were devouring their afternoon snacks.
Greg Dresko, an assistant director at the camp, said that while some campers have to be dragged out of the pool when it's time for the buses to take them home, a lot of them are tired from the day's activities and ready to leave.
But that doesn't mean they won't be excited to come back, he said.
"A lot of the time, these kids don't have a great home to go home to," said Dresko. "Here, they're with their friends. A lot of kids want to stay here. They love coming back."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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