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X-CAMP Provides Impactful Learning Experiences

July 18, 2019

X-CAMP is a hands-on educational camp for children ages 5-10 offered at the University of Montana Western each summer that first started in 2014. This year’s theme was “camping and the outdoors,” and was held July 8-12, 2019.

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.

Dr. Estee Aiken, Associate Education Professor, teamed up with two UMW Education students who volunteered as support staff for the camp.  Tammy Foley, UMW student and Early Childhood (P-3) Major, participated in the camp last year, while this experience was new to UMW student Cassandra Punohu.

“I enjoyed spending time with the students and getting to know who they are. To me it is important to learn their names and the distinctive personalities attached to those names. I think that’s where you can truly start connecting with them as you teach,” said Punohu, a Secondary Education Major in English and Drama K-12.

Campers worked with Campus Garden staff on Tuesday, as part of a tour of the garden, followed by a Forest Service presentation on Wednesday by Alex Dunn on outdoor and fire safety, knot tying and more.

The children engaged with local experts and guest speakers who shared lessons about wildlife, art, and ecology during the eventful week. They also utilized the resources in UMW’s state-of-the-art Model Classroom for Education.

“I love the opportunity to ‘practice what I preach’ to my UMW students by modeling lesson development, instruction, and relationship building with K-3 students. It reminds me why I’m so passionate about teacher preparation in the first place when I am able to be an elementary teacher again, even if it’s just for a week,” said Aiken.

Montana Western’s School of Outreach also plays a large role in the coordination of X-CAMP, including marketing and registration. The planning for experiential events like these requires a yearlong effort and is one example of how UMW promotes lifelong learning.

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

To learn more about Montana Western, please visit the Experience One webpage.