Mayor seeks expansion of 'Supercamp' Organizers want to include more children in program

November 25, 1997|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

Impressed by a pilot summer reading program for 8-year-olds, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is seeking to expand the "Supercamp" model next year for thousands of Baltimore schoolchildren between the third and fourth grades.

"I'd like every public school student who is 8 years old and not reading at the third-grade level to have a summer camp reading experience," Schmoke said yesterday.

"I hope to expand Supercamp on a comprehensive citywide basis, so that Baltimore City can give a guarantee of an enrichment experience," he added.

Supercamp, attended by 460 schoolchildren between third and fourth grades last summer, was pioneered by Sally Michel, a civic volunteer who raised nearly $500,000 in private and federal funds to run the program.

A heavy emphasis on reading was the main feature of Supercamp, using the phonics-based teaching method of direct instruction for an hour and a half every morning. Members of AmeriCorps, the volunteer community service program, taught the classes.

The camp took place at four sites: the City Life Museum, the Baltimore School for the Arts, the Maryland Institute, College of Art and a Police Athletic League center.

Schmoke said he was approaching national foundations asking for additional funding for an enlarged program, to supplement Michel's efforts to raise more money from local private donors. "I have several irons in the fire," the mayor said.

Michel said the program costs about $1,000 per child, and that next year's Supercamp might have as many as 5,000 children, according to the school system's estimate of the number of 8-year-olds now below the third-grade reading level. That would mean a tenfold increase over last summer's program.

Michel said that she had received commitments from the Walters Art Gallery, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Columbus Center, the National Aquarium and Goucher College to participate in Supercamp next summer.

In addition to reading instruction, Supercamp children also took an Outward Bound outing and sailing lessons last summer.

Pub Date: 11/25/97

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