Taw Moo has been coming to the Daviess County Public Schools International Summer Camp since its beginning five years ago because it was a fun way to continue learning while school is out.

The camp will take place through May 30, and again from June 4-6 at Burns Middle School. It's open to middle and high school students.

Moo, 15, is originally from Thailand and will be entering into the 10th grade at Apollo High School this fall. He said he likes coming to camp because he has a chance to spend time with his friends in a learning environment.

"The teachers are helpful, and it's a fun camp where you can learn stuff," he said, having just come from the room where he and other participants were being taught how to bake.

Throughout the two weeks of camp, students are exposed to the English language and U.S. culture through educational lessons on literacy, mathematics and other life skills. They meet with and learn how to communicate with first responders, and connect with representatives from Owensboro Community & Technical College to learn about higher education options, according to Taylor Phillips, College View Middle School teacher and co-founder of the camp.

Phillips said a lot of students return to camp each year, so programmers try to offer a variety of activities from year-to-year. The camp is important because often during school breaks, some international students spend the entire time not speaking English at all.

"For instance, they will go home during spring break and not speak English for 10 days," Phillips said. "For that to be 10 weeks, that's a lot. So when we bring them in here, it stops that loss a little bit."

The goal of the camp, she said, is to take down some of the barriers between newer groups of people in the community, and to not only help them become more acclimated to the community, but to help the community become acclimated to them.

Students from Burns, College View and Daviess County middle schools, as well as Apollo and Daviess County high schools, participate in the camps. Daviess County Public Schools provides transportation for students and they are also fed breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the duration of the camp through the summer feeding program, according to a press release sent by DCPS.

Victoria Self, youth services coordinator at Burns Middle School, said the camp also helps students and staff better know one another. Some international students come from cultures where students may not have easy access to education. They are tight-knit communities, and providing them more opportunities to get to know educational leaders in the area helps them thrive.

"The camp also helps the transition from summer to the next school be a little easier," Self said.

Students also go on field trips, with Smothers Park, Mellow Mushroom and a movie on their list of planned outings this year.

Phillips said going to a restaurant may not seem like that big of a deal, but the first year of camp, she was taking students out to their first restaurants ever when they went to Fazolis.

"Some of those students didn't know how to use a straw dispenser," she said.

Eh Htee, 16, will be entering ninth grade at Apollo this fall. She also is originally from Thailand, and this is first year at the camp. She came because a friend was also attending and encouraged her to join.

"I heard it could be helpful, but also a good time," she said.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315.

(1) comment

Amelia Jennings

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