Ms.
Frizzle, of the iconic Magic School Bus program on PBS, was the beloved teacher
who delighted in taking her students on exciting adventures in a bright yellow
magic bus.   Those adventures might include riding through a
larger-than-life human body, exploring a rain forest from the viewpoint of a
cricket, or learning how a volcano forms and spews devastating but beautiful
lava.  A Kid’s Place proudly boasts our own Ms. Frizzle, Mrs. Alice Gray,
who continues to create magical adventures for our pre-school students as well
as run an after-school program called The Discovery Club.  There aren’t
too many four-year-olds who can say that they’ve grown their own crystals,
cultivated germs, and created globes of the earth.  If Ms. Alice can do
all that with four-year-olds, you can barely begin to imagine what she can do
with over 40 children under the age of 12 for a month of summer camp. 
Don’t let your imagination underestimate what magic Ms. Alice can perform!

The
real magic of summer camp, though, isn’t the amazing scientific experiments or
the awesome water play or even the exciting community visitors.  The magic
is seeing children having fun.  The magic is teenagers begging to be a
part of a camp that is well below their learning abilities but something that
looks so fun that they’re willing to hang out with the younger kids simply to
enjoy the chance to experience something they’ve never been able to do. 
The magic is watching kids form close friendships with others in their camp
group.  The magic is watching a Lego building competition where an older
child steps in to help a younger child complete a masterpiece without taking
credit for helping.  The magic is watching Ms. Kay from the Tampa Police
Department assure the children that the police are their friends, then allowing
them to sit in her squad car and try the siren.  The magic is in plaster
of Paris hand prints, beaded bracelets, canvas paintings, and sand art
bottles.  The magic is in camp friends, water fights with the counselors,
and blue sno cone tongues.  Summer camp magic is the chance to be a kid
and forget for a while that the weight of the world sometimes seems to be
balancing precariously on your shoulders.

Eleven
year old Gavin has been at A Kid’s Place for almost two years; this will be his
second year to enjoy the A Kid’s Place summer camp experience.  He knows
what to expect, and he asks several times a week how many more days there are
before camp.  This year, he’s bringing his game.  “I’ve been
practicing for the Lego competition, and I’m ready,” he assures us.  “I’m
also going to help the little kids make ‘slime’ because I know how to make it
the best.”  Comfortable in his stellar abilities to reap the many rewards
that summer camp will provide for him, he struts with a certain amount of
confidence that he will bring his knowledge and experience to camp and wring
every ounce of fun out of it.  “Next year I’ll be too old to go to camp,
so I’ll have to be a counselor,” he tells us.  No foster child should plan
on staying at A Kid’s Place another year, but for the moment Gavin forgets that
he’s in foster care.  For now, he’s just a kid making plans for the
summer.

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