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X-CAMP Provides Engaging Learning and Teaching Opportunities

July 16, 2018

X-CAMP is a hands-on educational camp for children offered at the University of Montana Western each summer that first started in 2014. This year’s camp, “Under the Big Sky,” was held July 9-13, 2018.

X CAMP- Kids on Legacy Plaza
X-CAMP participants took part in several activities, including a nature walk on the Montana Western campus.

Dr. Estee Aiken, Associate Education Professor, teamed up with the UMW School of Outreach, facilitators of the camp, to provide an innovative experience through the course “EDEC 332: Science and Social Studies for Early Childhood (K-3)” for the second summer in a row.

University of Montana Western Associate Professor of Education, Estee Aiken.
University of Montana Western Associate Professor of Education, Estee Aiken.

Prospective teachers from Montana Western engaged in eight weeks of online preparation for the week-long summer camp for kids ages 5-10. The unique approach in a field setting helps teacher candidates apply their skills and take on the role of lead teachers.

The focus for the camp was hands-on exploration within the theme “Under the Big Sky.” The goal was to develop meaningful science and social studies experiences while sharing a wide range of campus resources with children from the community and surrounding areas.

X CAMP- Tammy Foley with campers
UMW Teacher Candidate Tammy Foley works with some of the campers during a hands-on learning activity.

Tammy Foley is an Early Childhood (P-3) Major from Brady, Texas. She expressed that X-CAMP has made her feel more comfortable in the classroom. “I used to be a substitute teacher. The field experience we do solidifies what education truly is. This is what I really want to do,” expressed Foley on her love for teaching.

The children engaged with local experts and guest speakers who shared lessons about wildlife, art, and ecology. They also utilized the resources in UMW’s state-of-the-art model classroom for education, explored the campus garden, and were mentored by student teachers throughout the camp.

X CAMP- Owl Pellets Activity with Fish, Wildlife & Parks
Kurt Cunningham from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, engaged the campers in an owl pellet dissection activity.

Experience One, the unique one course at a time scheduling program at Montana Western, allows education majors like Kim Cole to have plenty of real-world experience in the classroom well before receiving a degree.

Cole is an Early Childhood Education major and is working towards her endorsement in Elementary Education. She started her collegiate career in 1998 in Alaska, where she grew up. “I like the practice in teaching lessons. Putting everything I’ve been learning in classes to practice is rewarding,” said Cole.

X CAMP- Campers in Model Classroom
Kids ranging in age from first through fifth grade were immersed in several different activities during the camp.

X-CAMP is a unique opportunity for prospective teachers at Montana Western to gain experience in the classroom while kids are able to engage, learn, and have fun at the same time.