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Bring 5th Grade Camp Back for Maple Hills Elementary School Students!

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Fifth (or 6th) grade camp has been a tradition in many schools across America for decades. It has become a symbolic right of passage during the last year of elementary school before the transition to middle school or junior high.  For many kids, it is their first and only chance to attend camp, especially an overnight camp.  The experience offers students the opportunity to learn about important topics and concepts, such as team building and environmental stewardship.  It can also give the gift of life long, cherished childhood memories.

For me personally, I went to camp with my 6th grade class in 1992.  In 2014, my best friend (who I became friends with in 6th grade) had her wedding at the very same camp, and I was her maid of honor.  Both memories I will treasure forever.

Maple Hills Elementary administration decided to cease the 5th Grade Camp Coleman trip in 2015.  Today, the new principal sent out an end of year newsletter and in it, reported that she intends to maintain the decision to not attend camp.

Here is the statement from the principal, Ms. Tapper:

"5th Grade Camp - As many of you know, two years ago a decision was made to discontinue the 5th grade YMCA environmental camp field trip. This year when I arrived, some parent groups and parents asked to meet with me to discuss the field trip and revisit the decision. At the beginning of the year I talked with many parents, the PTA, district personnel, YMCA camps, and building staff to research the tasks and needs that go in to sending students to a three-day overnight camp. While I know that attending an outdoor education camp is a wonderful educational and social bonding experience, our team weighed the pros and cons and decided that we would not change the decision. Our 5th grade families know this already but I wanted to be sure that I shared this information with our future 5th grade families as well.

Please understand this was a difficult decision; one that we did not make lightly. During my research I gathered information about the very lengthy list of tasks that need to be done in order to send a group of students to a three day camp. Please know that parent volunteers have offered to assist with the tasks needed for this program, however the majority of the large tasks cannot be done by parents as it is a school sponsored activity (the PTA is not legally allowed to sponsor camp). Financially, the school must be responsible for raising, organizing, and collecting all the funding and doing all the financial work. Due to confidentiality, school personnel have to ensure medical and proper nurse coverage. With these activities and the manpower it takes to organize such an endeavor, our staff together agreed that we would prefer to take our 5th graders on two big field trips each year, similar to what the other grade levels do. This year the 5th graders went to a play at the Meydenbauer Center and have taken an Argosy cruise to Blake Island spending the day at Tillicum Village. There are many other events that the 5th graders enjoy that makes their year a little extra special. I know many of you may have attended camps when you were in elementary school or had older children who attended camp years ago and it is always hard when a tradition changes, so I thank you for being understanding. We all want the best for our kids!"

I researched all of Issaquah School District's elementary school websites, and low and behold, every other 5th grade in district went to camp this school year except Maple Hills!  The Maple Hills students deserve to go as well.  Please support our students by helping to implement 5th Grade Camp back in the the curriculum and their childhood experience!  Thank you!



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