University Village’s Camp All-Stars Creates Limitless Opportunities

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Da'RomeWhen you step into the University Village apartments, you’ll see children of all ages working in teams and engaging in conversation. This summer, more than 100 students are involved in an array of learning activities that are shaping their lives. These students are participating in University Village’s Camp All-Stars. The camp is held Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The camp will officially end on Friday, July 22, 2011.

University Village’s Camp All-Stars is geared towards working on member’s improvement of state test scores and character building. “The importance of the camp is to expose many of the children in the Orangeburg community to many things that they typically would not be exposed to in a summer camp,” says Anthony Beckett, camp coordinator for University Village’s Camp All-Stars.

The children that are participating in this summer camp range from five to 16 years old. Da’ Rome Smith, a rising third grader at Edisto Elementary School, is one of the many students that the camp is assisting this summer. Smith is filled with joy when he comes into the camp every morning, and he feels that it is a wonderful way for him and his older siblings, Nalija and Shardajar, to cope with the death of their mother who was struck by a vehicle in a hit and run accident early this summer. Smith says that the counselors from University Village’s Camp All-Stars have impacted his life in a major way. With a huge smile on his face, Smith says that he feels great when he comes to the camp. “I learn something new each and every day,” says Smith. He also states that camp counselors shared encouraging words while he coped with the death of his mother. “In this camp, I learned that you cannot always blame people for their mistakes,” says Smith. Like Smith, University Village’s Camp All-Stars are enhancing the lives of everyone that participates in the camp.

University Village’s Camp All-Stars, comprised of children that are in foster homes, the children of single parent homes and many others, was conceived by Beckett, a rising senior family and consumer sciences major, and Robyn Perrineau-Kendrick who serves as the area coordinator of University Village. After meeting with several guidance counselors and the Orangeburg Department of Social Services, Perrineau-Kendrick noticed that there was a dire need for the camp in the community. Perrineau-Kendrick also wanted to target the schools in the Orangeburg community, which received low test scores. “We intentionally targeted those students who have never experienced a summer program,” says Perrineau-Kendrick. We did not want to be just another camp. We wanted to make a difference in everyone that participates in the camp,” she exclaims.

Perrineau-Kendrick is not only molding the lives of the children in the Orangeburg community, but she is also creating opportunities for the future leaders of tomorrow, SC State University students. Beckett was amazed about the limitless opportunities that he and his peers could create in University Village’s Camp All-Stars. Beckett initiated weekday meal plans, curriculums, scheduled list of activities and developed a plan that would enhance the skills of the camp participants. “This has been a very rewarding experience. I developed a schedule that would assist the children of the Orangeburg community,” says Beckett. As a learning experience, Beckett has noticed that in order to help someone, sometimes you have to give the students what they yearn to know. “This camp has shown me that you cannot always stick to the plan, that there will be some days where you will sway from the plan to give the children what they need,” Beckett says.

The camp participants are taught by camp counselors who are University students focusing on education or social work.  Thirty highly motivated students were selected for the position. “I wanted to create an opportunity that would better assist our students,” says Perrineau-Kendrick. Perrineau-Kendrick knows that students must have experience to better equip themselves for real-world experiences. “We created a service learning project that would give the students the opportunity to become acclimated within their fields and a project that would assist them with the development of becoming leaders.” Our message is that ‘there are great things happening at South Carolina State University.’”

Beckett and other camp counselors are also impacting students in surrounding areas. Justin Singleton, a rising junior at Bethune-Bowman High School, serves as a group captain.  “I enjoy assisting the kids with anything that will make them better. I learned that you must have patience when dealing with children, and that these children come from different backgrounds.” He even states that based on the experiences that he has had with this camp, his focus has changed for college when he attends. “I want to major in music industry so that I can teach kids music. This camp has made me want to work with kids.”

Perrineau-Kendrick says that she will continue to lead all camp counselors and children by example, sharing her motto, “let your words be a construction site and not a demolition tool; your actions should speak louder than your words.”

For additional information about University Village’s Camp All-Stars, contact Robyn Perrineau-Kendrick at (803) 516-4443. Monetary funds from University Village’s Camp All-Stars will assist the Division of Student Affairs and Dr. Charles N. Smith with their book scholarship fund.