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Camp RESTORE Report

By Susannah Black
August 31, 2015

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We’re coming to the end of the summer, and it’s a good time to reflect on the season’s major triumphs.  Among these was the success of the third annual session of Camp RESTORE, the collaboration between BOP and Good Shepherd Services that’s become a summertime tradition on Governors Island; an expression of our commitment to extend BOP to students beyond the Harbor School walls; and a means by which Harbor School has been able to reach out to inner-city middle schoolers (and their parents) who might not otherwise consider it as a high school option.

Good Shepherd Services is a family service and youth development agency with more than 80 programs that serve over 26,000 children, youth and families each year.  Focusing on high-need communities in Brooklyn and the Bronx, they provide a broad array of individual, family and school-based services to prevent youth from becoming disconnected from family, school and society. They also help those who come to us already disengaged find hope and motivation to reconnect with their community.

One of these programs is Camp RESTORE.  Essentially it’s a summer-camp version of Harbor School, designed to give students a taste of many aspects of a Harbor education; to prevent summer learning loss; to introduce them to their city in a new way.  For the past two years, the program has served middle schoolers from Brooklyn: this year, it expanded to include three of GSS’ summer camps in the Bronx.

From GSS’ Jennifer Zanger’s post-Camp report:

I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you for making Camp RESTORE such a resounding success!!   Our middle school participants had a blast, were enthusiastic learners, completely engaged, and many are absolutely thrilled with the idea of making Harbor School their first choice for high school!

To recap:

  • The groups were able to do a day on Governors Island doing Marine Biology with Mauricio and Robotics with Rick!   We cannot thank you both enough for your time, effort and generosity of spirit.  The kids were so excited to discover new things and to be challenged to learn in new ways and you made that possible.  Please extend our greatest thanks to the interns as well, who helped to run the activities at the dock and offered support, encouraged curiosity and talked about their experience at Harbor School.  Nothing like meeting real live students!  Joe was such a huge help on Friday helping me lead the trivia game and being on hand in all aspects of the presentation.

    • The groups did a day on Lettie G. Howard, a 125 foot schooner built in 1893.  They hoisted the sails, learned navigation, learned how to read maps specifically for the waterways, took turns steering the boat, and learned the commands for how to take over and confirm compass direction.  They learned knots, and they had the wonderful adventure of getting strapped in to safety harnesses and walking out along the bowsprit with their feet on netting where they could see the water.  A huge thank you to Colin and his crew for this incredible experience!

      • Some groups kayaked.

        • Most groups visited the Science Barge up in Yonkers.

          • Our final day was a huge BOP CCE Camp RESTORE celebration with presentations, tours of the school and Island; a barbecue and then family activities that included biking, boat tours around the Island, miniature golf and tours of Castle William.

            • It was a pure pleasure to work so closely with Bronx staff and to get to spend time with participants from 206B and MS 45.  Please extend the thank you to all group leaders, Ed Directors and Specialists and program directors across both boroughs.   120 parents, participant and staff enjoyed the wonderful day and we are hoping it goes a long way to strengthening the pipeline between GSS and Harbor School.

              A final huge thank you to Sam and Matthew for their partnership in helping to make this all happen.   Watching our kids jump up and down with the excitement of seeing their underwater robot do the right thing, or fall apart, squirming with delight, when they touch their first sea squirt; listening to them asking a 100 questions about the Island and the school as they realize that this is theirs for the taking– these are beautiful things, and you all really made that possible.

              BOP curriculum continues to go strong in our summer day camps: We will be continuing our learning & teaching with a new enthusiasm and understanding.