The Fernie Heritage Library is hosting free children's reading camps until the end of August. Part of the camp includes hands-on activities

Summer camp encourages children to keep up with their reading

The Fernie Heritage Library offers free reading camps for children aged 7-11 from now until the end of August.

By Katie Smith

Reading, a skill like any other, can get rusty if not practiced, so as a way to help prevent children from losing their reading skills over the summer, the Fernie Heritage Library has free programming that will continue until Aug. 29.

Emma Dressler, the library’s director, said every Tuesday through Friday from 1-3 p.m., children aged 7-11 are encouraged to drop by the library to attend the reading camp and learn about different topics that have to do with the program’s overall theme, “Build It.”

“There’s no charge,” she said. “The whole idea is to keep children reading over the summer. And even if they’re not reading, just keeping them thinking about books.”

While many children do continue to read after school’s out for a couple of months, many tend to put their books aside.

“If they don’t read or pick up a book all summer, obviously it makes it a lot harder for them to get started again in the fall.”

When children are young, they can lose months of what they’ve learned if they don’t keep up with their reading, Dressler said.

“When they start back [to school] in September, they’re back to where they would have been in February or March, so they lose a lot. So, we encourage them to take out some books.”

Unlike some reading camps that are heavily focused on reading and keeping quiet in a library setting, the program at the local library incorporates arts and other forms of hands-on learning, and children don’t experience such a strict environment.

“It’s not a stiff environment, it’s pretty flexible, and we also associate a fair bit of movement,” Dressler said. “They always go out into the garden as well and they can run around out there.”

The program itself is in the basement of the library, away from the main floor where people are reading.

“They don’t have to be quiet, as they would in a typical library setting. This is their zone. They can shout and make as much noise as they want.”

Dressler said this year there’s a lot of math and science involved with the programming.

“We have a lot of science and math brought into the camp this summer, but in a fun way, so they don’t think they’re learning science and they don’t think they’re learning math,” she said. “It’s all about fun.”

Each Wednesday is a science-themed day, where a science student or members of the Elk River Alliance come in and work with the students, she said.

“They do things about streams or floods and it’s really interactive and a lot of it’s outside,” she said.

The reading camp’s children’s programmer this year is summer student Sarah Buchan who said the program, which started earlier this month, has been off to a good start this year.

“It’s been going pretty good so far, there’s lot of kids and they enjoy it,” she said, adding there are small incentives to get the children reading.

“We give them the reading logs so every time they read a book they get to add a sticker, and they seem to be encouraged by that, Everyone like’s stickers.”

Buchan said it’s good programs like this one are free, as they include children from all walks of life, including lower-income families who might otherwise not be able to afford to send their children to camp.

Dressler agreed, adding it’s also a good way to give parents a much-needed break.

“We try to make it welcoming, accessible and free.–For something like this program, for parents who maybe have their children home for the summer who aren’t working but maybe just need a break, so the children come in here, they attend a program.”

The program is for locals and visitors alike and is a great way for kids to socialize, she said.

For more information, visit http://fernie.bc.libraires.coop.