GRACE school system to offerGold Summer Camp for youth

By Jeff Kurowski | The Compass | April 19, 2018

Catholic school teachers will run programs

ALLOUEZ — Registration continues for a new summer camp designed to stimulate young people intellectually, socially and spiritually. The Green Bay Area Catholic Education school system (GRACE) will offer GRACE: Gold Summer Camp, July 9-Aug. 17 at Father Allouez Catholic Middle School (Resurrection campus), Allouez. The camp is open for students age 3 through entering ninth grade.

“Not many other camps go into August, so we tried to give families some August options,” said Laura Blicharz, GRACE curriculum coordinator and director of GRACE: Gold. “We are a six-week program. Parents can pick whichever week they want. They can choose one week, two weeks, all the way up to six. They can choose just to do a morning class, just an afternoon class or both. There are lots of variations depending on what is going to work for families. We also offer before and after school care.”

An exploratory committee featuring parents, financial advisors and community members was formed last summer to gauge the number of interested families. The committee also reached out to GRACE teachers.

“We have around 25 GRACE teachers running the programs,” said Blicharz. “That’s a great show of support by the GRACE staff.”

Classes are designated in four different grade groups: early childhood, ages 3-4; primary, for children entering kindergarten through grade 2; intermediate, for students entering grades 3 to 5; and middle, for young people entering grades 6 to 9. The morning session will run from 8 to 11 a.m. Morning courses will be different than the afternoon classes, which will run from noon to 3 p.m. Early childhood classes will only be offered in the morning.

Classes range from “Getting Ready for Kindergarten” for early childhood students to “Musical Theatre Pros” for middle school participants.

Courtney Sickles, first grade teacher at Holy Family School in Green Bay, will be teaching “Creatures of God’s Earth” for primary grade students.

“This class will integrate the wonderful animals of our Earth and the different climates that they live in,” explained Sickles. “We will be focusing on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities to create a hands-on, creative and abstract way of thinking along this theme. There will be a fun story to tie in with the theme along with a Bible story or parable and an ending devotional to tie it all together.”

Sickles hopes the students gain an appreciation for how diverse God has made the world.

“There are many different animals and plants throughout our world that we can protect and care for,” she said. “I hope this will be an opportunity for us to take a moment during the busy summer months to pray and be thankful for what God has provided us.”

“Catechesis of the Good Shepherd,” will be taught by Jenny Johns, a faculty member at St. John Paul II Classical School in Green Bay. Johns said that she chose the topic because it has changed her life and the way she helps form children in the truth of Jesus Christ.

“As a catechist I serve as the matchmaker between God and the child,” she said. “I introduce the child to God through Scripture, the materials, ask a few wondering questions and then the child is given the opportunity to respond to God with words, in silence or song.”

The class will provide a building block for future faith formation, added Johns.

“‘Catechesis of the Good Shepherd’ will lay a firm foundation of human and spiritual formation that will help mold the rest of their lives,” she said. “Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who calls, leads, feeds, protects, celebrates and lays down his life for his sheep and I am that sheep.”

“We also have theater classes, cooking, including farm to table,” said Blicharz. “We have STEM robotics, a hunting/fishing camp, some really great outdoor opportunities and a sports camp. Our goal was to do a nice blend. While there are academics ingrained in the program, it has more of a fun atmosphere, rather than a summer school atmosphere.”

Mass will be celebrated at GRACE: Gold. Students staying all day may bring their lunch and take part in “Discovery Time.” Following lunch, representatives from various organizations, community members and volunteers will give hands-on presentations.

“We’ve reached out to people who do physical fitness,” said Blicharz. “Some of the priests and sisters will talk about their vocations. We’ve reached out to places like the (Bay Beach) Wildlife Sanctuary. (Green Bay) Botanical Garden and the Zoomobile. We are trying to bring community members and businesses together and give them a good marketing opportunity. We’ve been able to get the community more involved, which we’ve enjoyed.”

Participants do not need to be enrolled in GRACE schools. The summer camp is open to all students, regardless of faith. Blicharz said that GRACE: Gold provides a good opportunity to connect with young families.

“We are hoping that they see this awesome community that we have,” she said. “With enrollment open for the academic year, we may grab some of those families.”

Each class will be capped at 15 or 20 students. Some classes only have a few open spots, said Blicharz.

“I get excited every time I see a registration in my mailbox (email),” she said. “I see the classes they chose, what is popular, what they are gravitating towards. We plan to offer the summer program for years to come.”

The enrollment fee for GRACE: Gold is $25 per family. The fees for a one-week course are $150 full day or $75 half day. For online registration or more information, visit

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