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Camp on Campus Delivers Fun, Learning
and Challenge for Preuss School Sixth Graders

By Jan Jennings | June 2, 2006

Preuss School sixth graders experience fun, learning and challenges at Camp On Campus
Preuss School sixth graders participating in Camp on Campus.

Dum ka dum ka dum ka.
Dume dume bomb bomb.

This may sound like gibberish, but they are the words to beats that students at the Preuss School were introduced to at the International Drum Workshop last week at the 2006 Camp on Campus for sixth graders.

A variety of drums, cowbells and clicking sticks were played on the stage of Mandeville Auditorium by Preuss students eager to give them a whirl while other Preuss students in the audience cheered, clapped hands and stomped their feet to the music. The session began tamely and gradually the students became louder, more enthusiastic, and “into it.”

“You have to learn to say with words the beat,” said the drum instructor Andre. Hence the basic dum ka dum ka dum ka, a simple word translation of some drum sounds. As the session progressed, so did the complexity of the drum hand movements, as the students learned to use their hands on the drum  as in heel – toe – slap and toe – heel – toe – slap – slap, rather than just the flat hand on the drum.

The International Drum Workshop was just one myriad of activities on and off the UCSD campus that the sixth graders experienced during the four-day Camp on Campus. Among other activities were a visit to the San Diego Zoo, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Thornton Hospital, a prep for their first college class session, an actual college lecture given by music professor Cecil Lytle, and creating a collage with the Alpha Lambda pledge class highlighting college goals and career goals.

Preuss School sixth graders experience fun, learning and challenges at Camp On Campus
Preuss School sixth graders creating a collage highlighting college goals and career goals as part of Camp on Campus activities.

“The objective of Camp is to excite students about college while showing students what it takes to succeed and graduate from a four-year college or university,” said camp coordinator Phil Ensberg, assisted by intern/camp organizer Andrea Yee, who scouted many of the students’ events with digital camera at the ready.

The drum workshop was part of a bigger message about how sounds are native to cultures, cross cultures and are reborn into new sounds and not only sounds, but as Ensberg pointed out in an accelerated lecture and quiz session after the drum workshop, it is peoples trading ideas across cultures.

And speaking of the quiz, Ensberg handed out a quiz with six words and six sentences into which the students were asked to insert the right words. The words  –  not exactly elementary – were culture, diffusion, oral tradition, subcontinent, diaspora, and surplus.

With the Gospel Choir under the direction of Ken Anderson due for a performance for the students, Ensberg asked what kinds of music have been inspired by gospel music and spirituals. The students responded with reggae, hip hop, rhythm and blues, and so forth. Ensberg said, much to the students’ surprise, “You are all right. All kinds of music started from gospel music and spirituals.”

Such interaction throughout the Camp on Campus activities was an essential ingredient in the learning – not to mention the fun and enjoyment – process.

The overall theme of the 2006 camp was College Life and all activities were tied to one of three aspects of college life: getting to college, succeeding in college, and careers after college. In each place the students visited, the Zoo, the Birch Aquarium, Thornton Hospital, etc., they were introduced to varying subjects, possible study in college, and careers, such as biology, oceanography, medicine, music and the like. After each activity they either had a quiz or a worksheet and all went into an overall journal for their experiences in Camp on Campus.

The sixth graders even had a formal dinner focusing on good table manners and had to complete a table setting worksheet. At camp? Yes, at this camp!

Preuss School sixth graders experience fun, learning and challenges at Camp On Campus
Preuss students took turns camping in tends on campus.

But what is camping without tents? Well, the students did stay in tents on the Preuss school campus. Girls in tents one night, boys the next. They took turns between tents and the warmer environment of the Walton Center.

Student reaction to the tent experience, which many of them had never experienced, was that “the ground was hard and it was cold, but it was fun.”

The students also had their chores to do: taking turns with lunch set up and clean up, dinner set up and clean up, and locker clean up.

All in all, it was a mighty busy week with one new adventure and learning experience after the other. From spending time with UCSD student volunteers to learn about college and how they can succeed in college to meeting professionals in various fields to learn about careers, the Preuss school students were inundated with the importance of college for their future success.

Sixth grader Marcus Nash said he learned about “college courses, different jobs and what I want to be – a doctor,” he decided. Maile Nilsson said she learned about “the importance of college”, had a “good time” and realized “how much can be learned out of class, doing hands-on things.”

Mustafa Malik, who thinks he wants to be an engineer, said he learned that “you have to work hard to be successful” and that people have to “work together.”

Preuss School sixth graders experience fun, learning and challenges at Camp On Campus
Drum instructor Andre with Preuss students at International Drum Workshop at Camp on Campus.

A number of the students said that camp was more fun than they had expected. A highlight was learning that the UCSD Geisel Library was named after Dr. Seuss. And of course, there was that fascinating fish dissection.

Camp on Campus at UCSD came about to fulfill a need and a desire.

“Sixth grade camp is an activity that all sixth graders look forward to and is a traditional rite of passage in the City Schools,” said Doris Alvarez, Preuss School principal. “In recognition of its importance, but understanding our inability to send them to the district sponsored event, (the cost would be $30,000) the sixth grade teachers have sponsored Camp on Campus whereby sixth graders have a week of activities on the UCSD campus – visiting various colleges, learning about the university and being hosted by UCSD students. It is a great activity and accomplishes a lot in terms of team building.”

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