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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:08:01 22:43:09

John Walsh plays the drum during a music class held at Camp Connection.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2018:08:01 22:30:00

STAFF PHOTOS/C.J. MARSHALL Zara Madden, left, and Malani Watson examine a box turtle during Camp Connection at Keystone College.

About 60 children from Factoryville, Dalton, Scranton and surrounding areas are at Keystone College this week, enjoying the benefits of Camp Connection.

Some were learning how to play musical instruments, thanks to instruction provided by music teacher Paul Oliver.

Others were searching Tunkhannock Creek behind the college, attempting to find crayfish and other local aquatic life.

Still others were making boats out of aluminum foil - with the criteria that the best one hold the most ‘cargo.’

According to Director Keely Kettel, Camp Connection is a free program offered by the Friends of the Poor. The camp provides opportunities for children facing certain academic challenges.

In many circumstances, Kettel explained, children returning to school following summer break experience what is known as ‘summer slide,’ in which they have lost what was taught to them the previous school year.

“Camp Connection provides year-round programming to encourage kids to keep interested in learning, and prevent the summer slide,” she said.

“We hire certified teachers as lead counselors,” Kettel explained. “And education students as teaching assistants.”

“Everything is utilized on the Keystone Campus,” Kettel said. “It utilizes the walking trails. We do creek studies in the creek. We also use the art studio, as well as the printing facilities.”

Camp representatives will also do community visits on Mondays and Fridays to public housing facilities, to show neighborhood children what kind of activities and resource sharing is offered by the program.

Camp Connection is primarily aimed at children - ages four to 11 - facing challenges in social, economic, academic, and emotional areas.

“They need year-round programming to keep them engaged in academic activities and prevent the summer slide,” Kettel explained.

“Every week is a different topic that involves nature,” Kettel explained. “Our classrooms are in natural outdoor classroom for our activities. Everything is integrated into the topic of that week.”

One of the participants was Mahenna Coggins, 9, of Dalton.

“I love it. It’s really fun,” she said about the experience.

One of the things Mahenna likes best about the camp is collecting wildlife from the creek.

Malani Watson, 7, of Scranton, was given the opportunity to hold a box turtle.

“It was good,” she said. “I really liked it, because I thought it was going to be a snake.”

Addison Brown, 10 of Factoryville, was busy in Tunkhannock Creek, collecting various samples of aquatic life.

“The thing I like best is learning how to tell if a creek is healthy,” she said.

Also participating at the event was Admirah Burrell, 12, of Scranton.

“I like the music best, playing it,” she said. “I learned things here I never knew about before.”