by Nora Rodriquez
(Plain Press, August 2011) St. Augustine Church, located on West 14th in Tremont, is well known for their service operations and various community activities. One of these activities is the Augustine Rainbow Camp. The summer camp started in 1973 with around 10 kids, according to Gerry Casper, Rainbow Camp’s director. In 2011, the camp has grown with over 180 kids and 56 staff members. Since there are a large number of children, the camp is divided into two age levels with five groups in each.
The camp runs for five weeks, beginning in July, for children ages 5-13. After that, campers have the opportunity to volunteer or apply for a staff position.
Each morning starts with the Morning Assembly. The campers and counselors sing, give announcements, describe the theme for the week and talk about the character trait they want to children to exemplify throughout the week.
“Every year we have an overall theme for camp. This year’s theme is Travel Through Time,” said Natalie Rodriquez, one of the two Level Leaders. Each week there is a mini-theme, such as medieval times and future.
During the day, the campers spilt into groups, assigned by age, and attend Arts and Crafts, Computer, Cooking, and Sports. The campers also have an opportunity to swim at Lincoln Park pool twice a week and attend a field trip once a week. This year, field trips included the Cleveland Natural History Museum, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Pioneer Waterland, Great Lakes Science Center or Fun-n-Stuff and Lake Metroparks Farmpark. On the last day of camp, there is a talent show in the gazebo in Lincoln Park in Tremont. Family and friends are invited to watch each group perform.
Although the camp is centralized on fun for the children, it also focuses on health and safety. “We have a nurse here all day and a secretary always in the office,” said Rodriquez. During the cooking activity, they try to focus on healthy and easy-to-make snacks, according to Level Leader Renee Rawlings. Rawlings is currently going on her eighth year of working at the camp.
“I love the mission and what it stands for and providing a safe place for children to engage in exciting and fun activities,” said Rawlings. The goal of the camp is to teach the children to become better citizens and to learn respect, fairness and sportsmanship while providing them with a place to have fun, according to Rawlings.
Applications for the summer are available in the church office in the spring with camp fees at $15 a week.