A recent morning during Summer Youth Camp at Henry E. Lackey High School, the gym is divided — floor hockey is played on one side; soccer on the other. And it’s not regular hockey. Everyone — at least 20 kids, plastic sticks in hand with blades the color of Popsicles — take over the floor, two balls in place of pucks are used and when one is smacked into the hallway, it’s apparently still in play. On the soccer side of the gym, counselors show off fancy foot skills before their much younger charges are able to steal the ball away and easily score a goal.
Nothing makes sense, but everyone seems to know the rules. It’s summer camp, where things are relaxed, the director is wearing an oversize sombrero and a camper’s toughest choice is whether they’re going to play pingpong or Connect Four.
Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) has held a summer camp for more than 20 years. Before the program was moved to Lackey, it was held at the College of Southern Maryland, said Don Layton, the camp coordinator who is in charge of Lackey’s aquatics department. Children in second grade up to the age of 13 can sign up for all four weeks of camp or can pick and choose the weeks they want to enroll, said Marty Margolis, camp director and physical education teacher at Walter J. Mitchell Elementary School. He is the one wearing the sombrero, along with mismatched socks pulled up to his knees, because July 11 to 15 is Spirit Week at the camp.
Running four weeks from June 20 to July 12, the camp specializes in fun. There is touch football, basketball, swimming, arts and crafts, whiffle ball and other games. Counselors — high school and college students — are more than likely former participants of the camp who have signed up to work it or volunteer.
“Mr. Layton and Mr. Margolis taught me how to expand my character,” said Caleb Christian, a North Point High School junior who attended camp for four years before returning to volunteer to help for the past four years. “You meet new people. And as a counselor, I try to play every sport so I know what I’m doing. It’s a good atmosphere and a good camp,” Christian said.
“It’s something to do during the summer instead of sitting around and watching TV,” said Grace Klaas, a fifth grader at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, who counts swimming as her favorite camp activity. “And all of the counselors are really nice.”
Landon Smith, a third grader at Theodore G. Diggs Elementary School, likes working on arts and crafts at camp and “It let’s me try out all kinds of sports,” he said.
Will Davis, a junior at North Point, has been a counselor for the past two summers. “It’s a good thing to do,” he said. “We’re helping out with the kids and making sure they’re having a fun summer.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,300 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.