Language camp#039;s aim is to help students

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Over the summer, children tend to forget what they learned in school.

For those whose English is a second language, that could set them back for the coming school year.

To help students refresh their English skills, the Apex Education Committee has invited volunteers from the Global Volunteer, a non-profit volunteer group in St. Paul, to hold a language camp for children in grade five through nine.

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"I think this would really, really benefit these kids for school this coming fall," said Valentina Gallegos, a English as a Second Language teacher at Southgate Elementary.

The free camp begins at Queen of Angels Church Monday and runs until Friday. Children will go on three field trips and lunch and snacks will be provided for them. Free transportation to the church is also available.

Fourteen volunteers from Global Volunteers will stay with immigrant host families. The volunteers, who come from all over the country, pay $500 to participate in the program.

"These people come here to do service, to enrich their own lives," said Laura Kuehl, director of Community Education and fiscal chair of the camp.

The communities they visit pick up the cost of transportation, a teacher, lunches and field trips. Apex and a grant from the Hormel Foundation covered those costs, which was between $2,500 and $2,900, said Roger Boughton, an Apex "People First" co-chair.

About 45 children have already signed up and organizers are trying to keep the number of students around 50.

"(Children) can still sign up. I don't think we have a limit," Gallegos said. "We have lots of volunteers."

So far all of the children signed up are Spanish-speakers, Gallegos said.

Mayor Bonnie Rietz had the idea to bring the Global Volunteers to Austin after reading an article about them. Before Sept. 11, the volunteers only traveled internationally. But after the terrorist attacks, some volunteers were too nervous to travel abroad, so the organization decided to help stateside, Boughton said.

ESL teachers sent information home with children to let their parents know about the camp.

"The teacher knows whether the children could use an extra helping hand," Boughton said.

There are still a few spots left in the camp, but children must register before it starts. Parents can register their children by calling Valentina Gallegos at 434-9003.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at