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Rutland Rec, Castleton team up on day camp to help working families

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 4:12 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - As kids return to school through a hybrid or remote learning model, working parents are questioning what to do for child care. Our Olivia Lyons tells you about one partnership that has come out of this pandemic to take some of the burden off parents.

The Rutland Recreation and Parks Department is partnering with Castleton University to provide a structured day camp for working families.

“I’m actually very excited about the structure we set up and, of course, the partnership with Castleton is what’s going to really make the program,” said Kim Peters of the Rutland Recreation and Parks Department.

As schools chose remote or hybrid learning methods and Peters saw many of her summer camp counselors not returning to college this fall, she began to wonder what the Castleton University Education program was planning.

For this program, parents drop their kids in grades K-6 off at the Courcelle Building in Rutland on remote learning days. That’s where Castleton University early education majors mentor students through their school day.

“We call them mentors because we’re not really their teachers, we’re there for more emotional support, technological support,” said Eliza Tooley, a senior at Castleton and a mentor-adviser.

Tooley says preparing for the day camp has already taught her a lot.

“This will give me such a great experience as I go into my career as a classroom teacher,” she said.

All education students have been offered this program for credit through the university. This allows education majors to hone their one-on-one teaching skills.

“Really feel sort of a sense of the teacher relationship with a student rather than an observer or a partner, they’ll have a little autonomy,” said Anne Slonaker of Castleton University.

The camp is scheduled for eight weeks but may be extended.

Slots are open first for children of teachers and health care workers, but anyone is welcome to sign up. And it’s not just for Rutland City residents, but people in surrounding towns, as well.

It costs about $20 a day and there is financial assistance.

“We will do everything we can to continue to serve the need that is out there,” Peters said.

At this time, there are six students signed up for the day camp, but Peters expects more by the weekend. There is no cutoff date, so families can still sign up.

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