CALALLEN - Laughter and noise filled the halls of Magee Elementary, located in the Northwest section of Nueces County. This school doesn’t get a summer break as it is filled with 120 students who are participating in Latchkey’s summer camp program. The program, which runs from through Aug. 4, keeps school aged kids entertained, educated and safe during the summer months.
“Our summer has been very smooth,” said Jessica Wimbish, area manager for the Latchkey program. “I have been very blessed to be here (Magee); the kids are well-mannered and we have a great team.”
Keeping this many kids entertained from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. would prove a daunting task to many, but it is one that Wimbish and her 19 staff are happy to take on.
Each day, the kids have the opportunity to play with friends, learn about athletics, do crafts, play board games and enjoy the playground. In addition to those things, students are treated to a field trip and a swim day once a week. Special activities dot the calendar and include pajama day, sunglasses day and decades day, where the students are encouraged to explore the fashions of a bygone era. On Mondays, the campers swim and on Fridays there are parties and performances.
Child care has been something of a passion for Wimbish, who grew up in the Corpus Christi area. She helped out at her mother’s in home day care and knew that she wanted to work with children when she chose a career.
“When you’re doing something you like, it’s not hard work,” she said.
The program maintains a one teacher, or guide, to every 20 students, or campers. At Magee, there are six groups of students who are separated by age.
“I like working with the older kids,” said four year Latchkey veteran, Marcus Stoney. “They speak what is on their minds and they are always helping the little kids along. On the day of the aquarium field trip, they were reading the signs for the younger kids. Working with kids every day is the best job ever.
Registration for the program begins in May and continues during the duration of the program, assuming there are spots available. The program costs families $89 per week and there is financial assistance available to those who need it. The program provides lunch and snacks and is a huge help to parents, whose career doesn’t always offer three months off.
The staff for the summer camp mainly come from Latchkey’s after school program. Many of these coaches, as they are called, have previous child care experience and all attend two days of training prior to the beginning of the camp.
During the school year, Latchkey operates a program for students who need a safe place to stay until their parents or guardians can pick them up. The after school program provides this service from the end of the school day until 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.
“We send Andrew to Latchkey because they offer a quality program and we feel like the coaches (teachers) really care,” said Kim McGlaun, who was on hand to watch her son participate in the Cartoon Comedy Show.