Minister of Family, Youth, Sports and the Environment, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo

The Directors and Counsellors at Camp Safari have gone the extra mile to make reading an exciting and fun pastime.

This is according to Minister of Family, Youth, Sports and the Environment, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, as she delivered the feature address this morning at the official opening of the camp, at the Haggatt Hall Resource Centre in St. Michael.

In describing the camp, Dr. Byer Suckoo said, “it is actually set up with an Arrivals and a Departure Hall, and the children get a little passport…it’s about showing children different countries, and the whole concept is as if the children are actually going to visit these far off places, so they make the idea of reading fun, and that is something that I endorse”.

Dr. Byer-Suckoo also pointed out that too many children are not reading, at various ages. For example she said: “There are children doing the Common Entrance Examination who are not reading. When you look at the compositions and comprehensions you can tell that these children are not reading.”

“I see too many people who just left school and come to me for jobs, but when I ask them about their qualifications they have very few if any at all, and they cannot read. Many of them are afraid to even attempt to fill out forms because they don’t know how to read the forms. This is a problem that we need to address, and while I know we have a school system that will do that, the vacation period allows for a different emphasis, so I readily endorse this concept here at Camp Safari,” she said.

Director of Camp Safari, Susan Rock, further emphasised that the focal point of the camp is really about literacy and technology. The concept came about to combat the challenge of reading as a difficult experience, so this is why we have made it into an adventure, whereby the kids can develop reading skills as they learn about different places around  the world”.

Ms. Rock declared that the idea for the camp’s theme came from the fact that books compete among so many other attractions. “Books have lots of other competitors out there like television and video games, so we wanted to make reading a fun experience, whereby the children can use their imagination and creativity, in order to enjoy reading and so learn a lot more”.

According to Ms. Rock, the camp also has added incentives to encourage the children to read. “We also have a ‘Frequent Reader Miles’ programme, where there are 30 books that the children have to read for the duration of the camp, and the more they read, the more points, or ‘mileage’, they accumulate.” Ms. Rock added that, “this morning we had a set up for the children who have never travelled before, to expose them to what travelling is all about and introduce them to the cultures of different countries, by using virtual technology”.

Ms. Rock noted that there was also something for the budding reporters in the camp’s midst. “The older children, ages 10 to 13 will get a chance to learn to write articles. Right now we’re in the planning stages with the Advocate newspaper, on having our own column, for this purpose.” 

Camp Safari is currently in its second year.

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