SOAR Summer Camp Serves Animal Shelter

Even with school out for summer, the halls of Ludlow High School were flooded with students of 7th, 8th, and 9th grade attending Ludlow Independent School’s SOAR summer program. Through four weeks in June, these 40 kids gained life skills and knowledge to help them as they navigate their educational and future career paths.

SOAR is a program at Ludlow Independent Schools that is funded by a 21st Century Grant. NaviGo Coach and SOAR Director Melanie Beccaccio works with students during the school year as well as in the summer months to encourage students’ exploration in different career opportunities.

With an obvious focus on progressive academics, each of the summer program’s four weeks contained a different theme. Week One they hit the ground running with the theme “Survivor.” Including survival skills, team work, and physical fitness. Entering Week Two, the students focused on technology with “How It Works,” visiting GE and Toyota to get hands on experience with automation engineering. Week Three students experimented with the arts as “Photography” was the theme. The campers received training from a professional photographer and thereafter took pictures at the Cincinnati Zoo. The kids then had a photo editing session where they designed personal photo books in Shutterfly that they all will be receiving in the near future. Finally in the last week, the SOAR campers focused on Service Learning. With their service work, the animals and staff members at Kenton County Animal Shelter reaped the benefits.

In this final week, the 7th, 8th, and 9th graders attended three presentations- one was from dog trainer Mike Dixon from Tri-State Canine Obedience, the second from Lieutenant Bart Beck with his dog, Oakley (a Kenton County Animal Shelter rescue), from the Ludlow Police Department’s K9 unit, and the final from entrepreneur Allie Klegg, who started Allie’s Walkabout, a jack of all trades dog care facility, in Crescent Springs. Thereafter, the students delivered their own presentation for family and friends at a picnic luncheon they prepared.

In theme with service learning, the students also ran a two-day fundraising campaign where they generated $692 in donations from Ludlow businesses. Some of the money donated was used to purchase items from the animal shelter’s wish list. The remainder will be used to support future service learning projects.

In addition, the students made homemade dog and cat treats, dog toys, and pet beds made from PVC pipes and sturdy material that can hold even the largest of the shelter’s dogs. On Thursday, students visited the Animal Shelter to deliver the gifts, and got to spend time with some of the shelter’s ready-to-adopt pets.

“Holding four week-long summer camps give the students time to build relationships with each other and the staff, and the opportunity to complete larger projects,” said Beccaccio. “Service Learning was a great way to wrap up this year’s summer program.  Students proved to themselves that they are capable of doing important things in their community.  They just need time and some direction.  They’re already talking about their next project!”

June, 2018 marks the third complete SOAR summer program where students are now off with a greater sense of being and knowledge in their lives. They are also able to participate in SOAR’s after school program starting in the fall.