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Camp X-Stream Extends Education with Fun and Innovative Learning

Elementary students at Camp X-Stream display their projects
Student designs and constructs object for Robot Pet Vet

As another year of Thompson School District’s Camp X-Stream ended in June, teachers and administrators are celebrating the success of the popular program. Camp X-Stream allows elementary and middle school students to extend their learning into the summer with fun projects and a summer camp-style setting.

Jodi Wardlow, a Thompson School District (TSD) student success coach and restorative practice specialist, says her team is very proud of the program, which continues to grow and has served around 850 TSD students at four sites this year. Camp X-Stream is free to all participants who attend one-, two-, or three-week sessions based on grade level. According to Jodi, putting together a program like Camp X-Stream involves many months of planning by multiple staff members leading up to summer break.

“Our goal is to engage kids to get excited about learning,” Jodi says. “For this type of program, teachers can be more creative and explore the elements of science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math.”

Many Fun and Creative Classes to Choose From

Students sit around an empty pool, outstretching arms to feed ducklings at center

Some elementary class themes include Robotics Aquatics, Robot Pet Vet, and Duck Chuck, among many others.

According to Sierra Espinoza, a Learning Services technician who helps plan Camp X-Stream each year, program organizers decided to use a new elementary curriculum this year based out of Colorado Springs that provides activity kits for each student.

“The kits come with everything the students need for the class,” Sierra says, explaining how the process allows planners to streamline class preparation by distributing kids more efficiently to each school.

For middle school students, TSD staff designed the classes. This year included topics such as cooking, engineering, and stop-motion animation.

“We want it to feel more like a camp,” Sierra says of both program levels, adding that the goal is to provide more hands-on learning with smaller class sizes.

Camp X-Stream implements most of the same services provided during the school year, including transportation, paraprofessional support (when needed), and school health aides. The instructors for the program are teachers from within TSD, as well as some from neighboring districts.

Teachers Enjoy Summer-Camp Style Classes

Brittany Trimbath, a 10-year veteran teacher at Namaqua Elementary, teaches a kindergarten/first-grade class there for Camp X-Stream and says she loves the creative play involved in the program.

“Camp X-Stream is very different from the school year because it allows more time for exploration,” Brittany Trimbath says. “The camp allows kids to learn from each other and discover new ideas. There are no wrong answers!”

Rachel Kaufman is an instructional coach and academic interventionist at Centennial Elementary and has been teaching Camp X-Stream classes for three years, including this year at Winona Elementary.

Four students, with goofy and happy faces, sit in front of desk with craft supplies

“There is opportunity to let students explore,” she says. “As a teacher, you can take the students’ questions and wonderings and are able to expand their learning.”

For Centennial Elementary fifth-grade teacher Paula Robke, who teaches a kindergarten/first-grade Camp X-Stream class at Edmonson Elementary, the program greatly benefits both students and teachers because it gives them a chance to learn in a more laid-back environment.

“Students are able to think critically, be creative and innovative, and explore in an environment that fosters collaboration, communication, and open-mindedness without the pressure of covering an extensive curriculum,” Paula says.

Camp X-Stream was designed to provide summer engagement for students while allowing them to meet students from other schools and make new friends.

“For a lot of kids, summer is a harsh cutoff,” Jodi explains. “This is a slow release into summer. It gives them kind of a way to transition into the summertime.”

Jodi says the feedback from families has been really good, and TSD plans to continue the program as long as possible.

“It’s an opportunity to reach kids in a different way,” she says.