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Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Friends School offers unique summer classes to stimulate and entertain

Posted on 07 May 2018 by Calvin

By JAN WILLMS
(All photos were submitted)
Summer is approaching, and with the season comes a multitude of camps for children that are offered in the Twin Cities. (See the March Monitor for dozens of summer opportunities.) But one organization, the Friends School of Minnesota, has been offering a wide selection of camps for the past 20 years.

The Quaker school has “a long tradition” of offering unusual camps for children preschool through the 8th grade, according to Andrea Hasan, summer camp director.

This is her first year as director, and she said one of the offerings that she is most excited about is a series of camps for preschool and kindergartners that explore different cultures.

The camps explore countries of the North, South, East, and West.

“Each week campers will journey in a different direction and learn about people and cultures around the world,” Hasan continued.

“They will be doing cooking and art activities, and have a lot of hands-on art experiences and play outside. One of our Quaker values is peace, and through understanding and appreciating diversity, we hope to build a foundation for that.”

Hasan said the school has always done preschool and kindergarten camps, but this is the first year they have cultural awareness themes.

She said another exciting new camp this year is an alternative energy camp, where kids will build solar-powered cars and other creations out of LEGOS, learning about alternative concepts and engineering.

There is also an amusement park camp, in which campers will build all the components of an amusement park with LEGOS. These camps are being partnered with Snapology, an art organization in Minneapolis that focuses on children learning through interaction and creativity using LEGOS.

“We are also partnering with SteppingStone Theater for youth development,” Hasan continued. “We will be offering creative writing and improvisational camps.”

Another camp that is new this year is one on robotics.

Travis Bell, a librarian and front office manager at the school, is putting on a Harry Potter camp. “I mentioned the idea to Andrea, and there got to be a lot of excitement,” Bell said.

“The first day we will be having a sorting ceremony, with the kids divided into different houses, representing four values that are part of the Friends School culture.” He said there will be a day focusing on herbology, where someone will teach the campers about planting. Another day a science teacher will explore potions, presenting science experiments for the kids to work on.

“We have another teacher here, Max, who will be teaching the kids how to play Quidditch,” Bell said. Quidditch is a game played on a field, with the participants riding broomsticks. The game was created by J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books.

“Max is a member of the Twin Cities Quidditch Club, and he has played in national tournaments, so he’s the real deal,” added Hasan. “We’ll be creating a junior version of Quidditch.”

Bell said they would also be crafting things, and the last day of the camp will have a more reflective celebration, feast, and camp ceremony.

The majority of the camps will be held at the Friends School at 1365 Englewood. The biking camps will meet at the school and then explore different parts of the city by bike. “We have a bus and a trailer for the bikes so that they can go pretty far,” Hasan said.

One other camp, Nature, Art and the City, will meet at the school and then children will have the opportunity to visit some of the best nature areas in the Twin Cities, where they can explore and play.

There are also camps on film production, outdoor activities, bike riding, chess, art history and craft labs.

All of the camps are open to the public, except some overnight Skipping Stone weekend camps, which are only for students of

Friends School. At these camps, participants will build campfires and stay in a campground.

“Our school is for kids K-8,” Hasan said. “Offering camps for the public for pre-K gives families an opportunity to become connected with our school. Incoming kindergartners can have the experience of being in our building and meeting the staff, and it eases the transition.”

She said the camps begin June 18 and end the week of July 9. Camp size varies, but most are capped at 20. “For some, like the bike camps, we try to limit the size to 12 to keep the experience personal,” Hasan said.

“I think the thing that makes our camps stand out is the quality of teachers,” she explained. “Some camps have random high school and college students, but everyone leading our camps has a vast number of years of experience and a passion for what they do. We pride ourselves on creating a diverse and inclusive community.”

Hasan said the Friends Summer Camps values time spent outside and in nature. “You can tell some of our camps really reflect that,” she said. “Our Skipping Stones overnight camps are sold out right away, but we have a waitlist.

Husan suggested that parents register online at the school’s website, www.fsmn.org. “Click on the tab for summer camps and register now,” she said. “Don’t be discouraged if a camp is sold out. Get your kids on a waitlist. And we still have openings in some of the camps.”

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