Students converge on ASB for Summer Enrichment Camp
Alabama School for the Blind’s week of Summer Enrichment Camp is currently in full swing as blind and visually-impaired students from around the state converge on the Talladega campus for a week of educational activities.

The school’s SEC program is just one of three orchestrated through the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. Other SEC programs are also being held at Alabama School for the Deaf and the Helen Keller School of Alabama campuses this week.

Campers were spilt up into four groups: Sharks for ages 13 to 15, Stingrays for ages 7 to 10, Starfish for ages 12 to 15 and Angelfish for ages 7 to 11.

Classes held in the first part of the day included arts and crafts, science, drama and computer skills, with afternoon recreation activities such as swimming, skating and plenty of games indoors as well as on the playground.

“We have a lot of first-year campers that are getting used to their first year here at camp,” said arts and crafts teacher Jennifer Hammock. “They are having a blast.”

Hammock let her Stingray camper group unleash their creativity with their very own message boards Tuesday morning. The Stingrays were busy using their handprints and sponges to create everything from fish to suns and even butterflies.

“These are message boards they can hang up at home to pin pictures, messages and their art,” Hammock said.

Hammock said that ASB had a mixed bag of campers this year who had low vision and who used walking canes, much like ASB’s student body.

Next, the Stingrays were off to science class with ASB science teacher Sinikka Smothers.

“Where is the Sun?” Smothers asked a roundtable of Stingrays anxiously waving their hands in the air.

After a couple of guesses, Smothers asked the group “Where is the sun at night time?”

“The moon is blocking the sunlight,” proudly said 10-year-old Jake Archer of Hartford. Smothers continued to go around the table listening to everyone’s hypotheses, later revealing, “It’s daytime in China when it’s night time here!”

With the help of a globe and flashlight, the Stingrays learned about where the sun is when the earth rotates in addition to the radioactive, gamma and ultraviolet rays it produces.

Each Stingray received a bracelet with ultraviolet beads and gave their own theories about what would happen to them once they came into contact with sunlight from outside.

Theories ranged from invisibility, to vaporization, to the beads possibly changing colors.

The latter proved to be true as the group “oohed” and “ahhed” over the bright colors their once white beads were changing to due to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

The group tried several experiments with their bracelets before returning to the classroom and discussing what they learned for the day.

Pretty soon it was time for the Stingrays to head to their next class before lunch and an afternoon full of recreational activities.

When asked about the one thing she would like the campers to take away from her class when they return to their respective schools, Smothers said, “I would like for them to just be excited about science. Learning about science should be an everyday practice.”

Institute President Dr. John Mascia, whose 12-year-old daughter Annie is volunteering at the ASB camp, believes that the SEC programs provide opportunities and resources for both campers and parents.

“These camps let parents know what we have to offer so that they can make informed choices about their child’s education,” Mascia said. “We believe we can offer opportunities here that aren’t available anywhere else.”

Mascia said the camps play a significant part in not only informing parents of the educational opportunities available for their children, but also in getting campers to recognize their full potential.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer summer camp experiences where our children can not only have fun, but they can also develop the confidence and skills they will need to be successful,” Mascia said. “Our campers have an opportunity to meet new friends and work with some of the most talented teachers in the country. It is a joy to welcome them to Talladega and to our campuses.”

© 2013