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Camp teaches students how to serve community

On Tuesday, students gathered at the West Side building at LaGrange College to consider everything from city designs to video editing to pollution at an annual camp.

This week LaGrange College’s Learn-2-Serve camp will complete its tenth year of giving rising fifth through eighth graders the chance to learn about science, technology and other areas while serving the community and having fun. Each year, the camp has chosen one area of focus, and this year, the camp’s theme has been LaGrange Grows.

“We’ve done different things each year, but we picked

LaGrange Grows because we’ve got so much growth coming into (LaGrange), and we try to make it relevant,” said Dr. Cindy Bowen, a science teacher who has worked with the camp for nine years. “We did severe weather the year after Katrina, so we try to make it relevant.”

Those different aspects of community growth are considered during the camp’s education and service activities which all focus on that theme.

“It is all about what happens when a community grows, and our students are studying those different aspects, like economically what happens, financially what happens, what happens in terms of pollution,” Camp Organizer Jana Austin said. “

Anything that is influenced by the community growing, that is what they are studying.”

The lessons and experiments at this year’s camp are all very hands on, making the information that students learn about economic growth come alive.

“I’ve tried to tie in all my activities to the theme,” Bowen said. “We’ve done water filtering. We’ve talked about trash. We took the kids to the landfill. We talked about growing and how economic development impacts our planning about the landfill, and recycling gives us more time.”

While at the landfill, the students were able to see where natural gas is extracted and learn how local industry has used that recycled gas in the past. The students also built boats with aluminum foil in order to learn about buoyancy and discussed engineering, design for structures at the camp.

The students have also worked to create a series of videos explaining LaGrange to new citizens.

“We looked at the LaGrange (Troup County) Chamber of Commerce website, and they have a page on relocation,” said Matt Graham, who has worked for the camp for 5 years.

“We are trying to make a video version of that web page. The students picked out the topics that they wanted to cover in the relocation video, and they are trying to make the video be useful to people who might be moving here.”

The students are using applications like iMovie and Windows Movie Maker to create the videos, which will feature the students talking about everything from Great Wolf to the library. It’s clear the students have done far more than sitting in classrooms during this year’s camp.

“It incorporates both academics and physical activities in the afternoon, but there is also a portion of serving the community,” Austin said. “Once a week, students go into the community and do different service projects. This year we are going to the (LaGrange-Troup County) Chamber of Commerce — we are partnering with them — and we are creating welcome packets for them in bags for new residents who come in. We are working with the Methodist Church (on Broad Street) with their soup kitchen, and then we are also doing a litter clean up because we know the more a community grows, the more litter happens, so we are picking up trash from just different areas that we can walk to near the college.”

The students have also visited the Troup County Archives and a local bank for field trips to supplement what they learn at the camp.

“It is always a bunch of good kids, and it is exciting to see what they create and come up with,” Graham said.

The camp started June 12 and will end this week. For more information about Learn-2-Serve visit http://www.lagrange.edu/events/l2s.html