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Camp Colonie combines learning and fun

An ideal summer school curriculum would consist of courses like Trail Hiking 101, Swimming Pool Study Hall and AP Archery. A real summer school at Camp Colonie does consist of that curriculum.

Founded 26 years ago by Easter Seals Disability Services, the seven-week camp, held at the Colonie Town Park, has been providing a summer of outdoor activities and education for children with disabilities, as well as children throughout the community. The camp program caters to the educational summer school needs of those students who are required by the state to extend their schooling through the summer, by having trained teachers on the staff as counselors.

Students who need to meet such requirements participate with other campers throughout the day and are pulled out on occasion to receive one-on-one educational sessions.

The camp is under the direction of Chuck Paravella and Mitch Hahn, both educators in the Capital District. According to Paravella, the camp serves as an alternative summer school, enhanced with the asset of taking place in the outdoors.

Paravella said that for the students who attend camp as summer school, most schools pick up the funding since it is mandated that they attend summer school. Schools can choose whether or not to count the camp as summer school, he said, and in Colonie, the South Colonie Central School District participates in this program while the North Colonie Central School does not because it has its own summer school program.

As far as how many campers attend the camp to fulfill summer school requirements, Paravella said, It's about half and half. But according to Hahn, "all of the kids are integrated," when it comes to activities.

Paravella said that the camp chooses activities that all campers can participate in regardless of their abilities.

"It is tailored so that every kid participates in every activity," he said.

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