Camp SAIL Sets its Sights on Mathematics this Summer

students sitting at a table lifting up cup to reveal math manipulatives

Most expect school hallways to be empty during the summer, but camp is in session at some Grand Erie elementary schools this month.

In the third year of Camp SAIL (Summer Adventures in Learning), teachers are enhancing primary and junior school students’ abilities in mathematics and technology, while also giving them a true summer camp experience.

During Camp SAIL, you’ll find students (aged 5-10) engaging in experiential learning activities such as salsa dancing, cooking, yoga, painting rocks and even juggling.

The three-week summer program runs from August 13-31, and is intended to support students from Senior Kindergarten to Grade 5. The primary focus of the program is to support students with numeracy expectations, and to sustain or increase individual skill development, engage parents and develop student confidence.

“We want to support students who experience summer learning loss and better their skills from when they left school in June,” said Trudy Bell, Principal at Branlyn Community School. “The tools students receive at Camp SAIL are truly amazing and parents are excited about the new ways they can practice math with their children at home.”

When arriving at camp, each student is given a backpack, a water bottle, several picture books with a growth mindset or Indigenous education focus and math manipulatives they can use at home to practice camp learnings with their parents.

“Students are engaged and energetic,” said Debra Opersko, Principal of Waterford Public School. “ We owe a big thanks to our dedicated teachers and community volunteers that make activities so fun for our students everyday.”

During camp, student abilities are assessed individually. They are able to complete learning activities in small groups of three to five students based on their skill level. In these smaller groups, teachers are able to target activities based on individual learning levels and enhance every student’s learning.

“We’re expanding communications with our students,” said Bell. “ We ask students how they got to the answer that they did and encourage them to understand, there’s more than one way to get the right answer.”

Many activities at Camp SAIL make use of technology and hands-on manipulatives for math. While some students are coding robots to drive using an iPad, younger students are learning how to make estimates by guessing how many candies are in a jar.

Students doing math on an iPad with a teacher

Teachers aren’t the only ones getting involved in camp. Many recently graduated Grade 8 students are fulfilling their volunteer hours for secondary school by helping out campers.

More than 200 students are registered for Camp SAIL across seven Grand Erie sites, including: Branlyn Community School, Caledonia Centennial Public School, North Ward School, Prince Charles Public School, Waterford Public School, West Lynn Public School and Woodman-Cainsville School. The Camp SAIL program is free for parents and is coordinated through the Council of Ontario Directors of Education.

The lessons taught in Camp SAIL link directly to the Achievement indicator of Grand Erie's Multi-Year Plan and Success for Every Student by increasing student understanding of effective learning strategies and how to use them.

Through the use of games and technology students are able to stay engaged and enhance their abilities at the same time. With Technology at the forefront of Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan, providing up-to-date tools for staff is a priority.

“This was the first year Branlyn has offered Camp SAIL,” said Bell. “I jumped at the opportunity to give our students a bit of a jumpstart for September, while also allowing them to enjoy camp at the same time.”

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