‘Purpose’ a big part of College for Kids’ initiative

A College for Kids camper splashes water in his face Wednesday after an ice cream fight at the Fulton Fire Department on Westminster Ave. Fulton firefighters sprayed the children, covered in ice cream and syrup, from a fire engine. College for Kids Director Sue Craghead said the camp — from classes to recreational activties — has the purpose to “have fun in life, laugh at yourself, enjoy life and be kind to others.”

A College for Kids camper splashes water in his face Wednesday after an ice cream fight at the Fulton Fire Department on Westminster Ave. Fulton firefighters sprayed the children, covered in ice cream and syrup, from a fire engine. College for Kids Director Sue Craghead said the camp — from classes to recreational activties — has the purpose to “have fun in life, laugh at yourself, enjoy life and be kind to others.” Photo by Brittany Ruess.

When it comes to the College for Kids program, there’s a reason behind everything, says director Sue Craghead.

View photos of the College for Kids camp

It’s why the group of fifth and sixth graders were driving derby cars on Tuesday night and why they spent Wednesday afternoon throwing ice cream at one another just outside the Fulton Fire Department.

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Max Arnold and George Frees, College for Kids campers, assess bones from an owl pellet Wednesday during their herpetofauna class. By investigating the owl pellets, the children learned about types of bones, discovered owls’ diets and identified where an owl might have lived based on what it ate.

“Everything we do has a purpose from the time we wake them up in the morning until the time we put them down,” Craghead said. “And that purpose is to have fun in life, laugh at yourself, enjoy life and be kind to others.

“Strive for more than you ever thought you could.”

In the second of three sessions, in its 26th year, the initiative of the College for Kids program is still the same: a forum for gifted children to keep their minds engaged through the summer months.

Participants must be entering grades three through nine with an IQ of 125 or higher. They get a taste of the college lifestyle by living on the campus of William Woods University and taking classes dealing in subjects such as herpetology, biology and physics over a five-day period. Students choose what interests them the most and are in class for three hours in the morning and two in the afternoon.

Craghead — the program’s director since its inception — said the subject matter is geared up to a high-school level with the purpose of keeping young brains fluid through a potentially relaxed summer.

“…You have to keep your mind going at all times; and if it’s sedentary during the summer, you’re losing time,” Craghead said. “…Even summer school is a blow off, so we have to make sure we go a level or two higher than they’re used to in school and they eat it up. They just suck it in.”

But there’s more to the program than just getting students ready for the academic rigors of high school. As Craghead has mentioned, another facet of the College for Kids program is to learn to have fun and, perhaps, some self deprication.

The latter is instilled by making attendants dance in front of their peers for their mail.

“That’s so when they get to high school, they can get up and talk in front of people and laugh at themselves when they make a mistake,” Craghead said.

And, if nothing else, the week on the William Woods campus gives the kids a sense of independence and an idea of what the future can be like.

As Craghead said, everything has a purpose.

“(The students) will tell you, ‘I’m ready for college now,’” Craghead said. “…That’s a big part of our program too is can you survive by yourself? And they do.”

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