It is that time of year. Isn’t it? The school supplies are purchased. The backpacks are packed, and the first day outfits are ready and waiting. School is about to begin! Because of the Summer Learning Program at the Children’s Fresh Air Farm, 95 students at Hayes K-8 School are beginning classes a little more prepared. This summer, we welcomed our largest group of campers ever to the Farm. Students participated in classroom time each day with highly qualified teachers and wonderful volunteers. They worked hard and WOW, did it pay off! On average, students gained four months of reading skills and six months of math skills. They defeated the “summer slide” and are ready to tackle a new school year
Of course, the Farm isn’t just about learning. It is also about having fun and growing in the love of God and one another. Afternoons are filled with chapel, swimming, drumming, art, music, drama, PE, theatre, nutrition, STEAM, yoga, dancing, gardening, and Zentangle. We even had special visits from beekeepers, realtors, entrepreneurs, news anchors, caterers, the Birmingham Police Department, and the Hoover Fire Department.
Fridays at the Farm are reserved for field trips. This summer, the students visited American Village, Orr Park, the University of Montevallo, Barber Motorsports Park, the Cahaba River, Oak Mountain Lanes, the Finley Center, the Birmingham Zoo, and Vulcan Park. In addition, due to a very generous donation, all of our campers were able to attend Red Mountain Theatre Company’s production of "Matilda." We read the book as a camp, and the students had a blast comparing the book with the play. They were literally on the edge of their seats.
At the end of last summer, there were many tears shed at graduation as our then 5th graders begged to return for another year. When children want to spend their summer learning and growing in God’s love, how can we say, "no?" So… for the first time, we invited rising 6th graders to join us this summer. In addition to joining other campers for all the usual learning and fun, our 6th graders began exploring their passions and future career paths. Members of the IPC Guild taught the 6th graders how to arrange flowers. The class worked in the garden, built bird houses, learned to cook fun new recipes, decorated cakes, and designed and ran their own lemonade stand. They had a blast and learned so much. They are developing into the cutest, brightest, funniest young people I know. And of course, they are already asking about next year!
Thank you all for your endless support. I know 95 campers (and their parents) who would love to thank you personally if they could. On their behalf, thank you for an incredible summer of learning, fun, and love! We can’t wait to do it again next year... with at least 100+!