Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring Break - Homeschool Style . . .

So I'm a little tardy talking about Spring Break here the day after Memorial Day, but oh well. Sometime around July 4th I'll mention how we celebrated Memorial Day. (OK, so as to keep the suspense levels down, I'll just mention that it was rainy all weekend and we mostly cleaned house and had friends / family over to eat. Sounds exciting, huh?).

Anywhat, the Mountainside Homeschool Academy DID take a Spring Break this year (as per usual). Last year we went to California for a family wedding and did all kinds of cool stuff like visit Sequoia National Forest, Muir Woods, and the Jelly Belly Factory. We did NOT do other cool stuff like visit a vineyard. As educational as it would have been, we couldn't quite bring ourselves to take three children (ages 8 and under) to tour wineries. Maybe next time!

This year, we stayed closer to home. However, we did want to do something educational AND something fun. Introducing the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island! A part of the Univ of Georgia Extension Program, Burton offers educational programs on sea and tidal eco-systems to schools across Georgia (and presumably beyond). This year, they held a "homeschool program" week for the first time, opening the camp up to any homeschool families who wanted to attend. It was the first time they had tried something like this, and I'm pleased to say that it was quite a success.

The "campers" were divided up into age-appropriate groups. Parents could go with whomever they wanted. The classes included "Crabs & Critters" (including crabs, turtles, fish, snakes, lizards, etc), "Marsh Ecology", "Beach Ecology", and the ever popular "Squid Dissection". No really. Tinkerbelle was more excited about getting to dissect a squid than anything else. It was awesome! Each kid took turns holding, cutting, squishing, and pointing at the various parts.

All of the units were a big hit. The camp seemed really pleased with the response (they turned away over 100 people, so apparently there is a definite demand for such a service) and with our feedback, so my guess is they will offer the program at least twice a year going forward. This was my first experience with anything associated with 4-H, and I was impressed. OK, the lodgings were pretty rustic (think summer camp), and we all agreed we would willingly pay more for better food (see previous parenthetic statement). But all in all, it was a big hit.

For all you homeschoolers lurking in the blogoshere, check into similar programs in your home state. If the 4-H camps don't offer them, point them to the Georgia system, where the beta test went swimmingly well.


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