July 26, 2022 -- Jordain Bowser, a rising 12th grader at Centennial High School, hoped to earn credit towards graduation over the summer while also getting an opportunity to work with kids to help prepare her for a career in teaching.
This led her to participate in the Counselor-in-Training program at the Spruce Run Environmental Education Center. Spruce Run was deeded to CCS in 1974 and offers CCS middle and high schoolers a chance to explore nature during Summer Experience. Pre-K and kindergartners, meanwhile, participate in weekly mini-camps to learn about nature and wildlife.
The Counselor-in-Training program is an opportunity for students to earn community service hours toward graduation, explained Brian Hamilton, a Centennial High School science teacher. Bowser anticipates meeting the 120-hour requirement by the end of summer.
“My credit hours should be covered by the time summer is over,” Bowser said. “For such a short timeframe and being able to get out during the summer, it is worth it.”
There are two students, including Bowser, participating in the program this year, Hamilton said. Counselors-in-training work with pre-K and kindergarten students to help them learn while being out in nature.
“Being a counselor-in-training is a lot of responsibility, but it is rewarding and fun to be mentors to CCS’ youngest students,” Hamilton said.
Through her role, Bowser will sometimes lead groups of kids through activities and help with various stations, including art, games, and teaching kids about nature.
“I love seeing how the kids react to nature,” Bowser said. “Sometimes, they will see a spider or toad and completely freak out, but then, they will slowly go up to them and want to touch them. It’s nice to see them enjoy themselves outside.”
Bowser heard about the program through her teachers at Centennial. She also had recently gone on a field trip with her science teacher to Spruce Run and wanted to explore the area in depth.
One part she enjoys about her role is helping kids learn through play.She said students can learn outside the classroom and get hands-on experience in the process.
“Living in a city, it can be hard to get out in nature,” Bowser said. “We have a few different parks, but sometimes kids may not get the opportunity to visit them. So bringing them here is great. They can learn through pointing out insects or seeing firsthand how the butterfly cycle works.”
Bowser said the program has been a great way to spend the summer, and she would recommend the program to others.
“Even if you don’t want to work with kids in your career, it’s still a good chance to get out here and have fun instead of sitting inside all summer,” she said. “I would recommend the Counselor-in-Training program to other students.”