‘Village Project’ Summer Camp ends on a high note

A July 24 closing ceremony marked the completion of the two-week camp that allowed 75 students to spend time on Elon’s campus participating in academic classes and other engaging activities.

Blue skies and a light-cooling breeze greeted those who attended the closing ceremony of Elon’s “It Takes a Village” summer camp July 24 at Lindner Hall.

The 75 students who participated in the program and their families were already familiar with the program 

and the resources it makes available throughout the year to aid struggling students.

This is the​

second year Elon has held the two-week camp where students, grades second through eight, spend time on campus participating in acad

emic classes and other engaging activities. The students spent their mornings taking reading, writing and math classes. Their afternoons were filled with photo, visual arts, music, movement and technology classes.        

From photographs to catapults, students were able to show at the closing ceremony the fruits of the creative process they began two weeks ago. Students took turns performing songs from Ghana, reading poetry and sharing excerpts from journals. Organizers created this camp to counter the loss of learning that millions of children experience each summer away from school.​           

 “We are so delighted with our students this week,” said Associate Professor Jean Rattigan-Rohr, founder of the Village Project and director of Elon’s Center for Access and Success.

The summer camp was once again funded by a gift from the Wells Fargo Foundation and came at no cost to the participating families. Elon University faculty and staff volunteered to teach courses, as did other members of the community, including 50 students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program in the School of Health Sciences.

Jerry A. Bailey, senior vice president and market president for Wells Fargo in Burlington, North Carolina, spoke highly of the program during his remarks. “We couldn’t choose a better partner in [Rattigan-Rohr], your staff and Elon University to put forth such a great endeavor that’s happening here on this university for these young folks,” he said.

The “It Takes a Village” Project uses a collaborative approach to help children in the community who are struggling to read. During the fall and spring semesters, children and Elon University students majoring in education are paired for weekly tutoring sessions at the Burlington School.

In addition to reading, the village project has expanded to science and math.  Adrienne Bigelow, grandmother of sixth grade Village participant Mekhi Bigelow, said the additional help has made a difference. “His grades have gone up with the help of tutoring in reading, science and math,” she added.

Many of the students have found great benefit in the engaged learning atmosphere the campus offers. Garrett Briggs said the camp has changed his daughter’s attitudes toward schoolwork. “It’s allowed her to find different ways to problem solve,” he says. His daughter, Kelis, first attended the camp three years ago. Her initial nervousness has turned into excitement on returning, he said. “I see that in all the kids.”

Gerry Francis, assistant to the president for community relations and Village Board Chair, challenged the students to make the best of what they learned this summer. “Take this excitement that you’ve got for learning, and take it with you back to school this year,” he said. “It’s one of the most important things for your future. It’s going to take you a long long way.”