CHAMPS is learning to solve problems, such as how to run a relay around a classroom obstacle course with a miniature rubber football pinned between the legs. Drop the ball? Start over.
CHAMPS is a team of seventh and eighth graders devising a story to perform. One might have been titled “Shoes Have Feelings, Too.”
CHAMPS has a Boys Council, Art Devotions, Game Making, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and a Story Telling class.
CHAMPS has three weekly sessions. The first, with seventh and eighth graders, ended Friday.
CHAMPS is “Communities Helping, Assisting, and Motivating Promising Students,” and it’s been helping such promising students, all from Laurens County, for 24 years in a summer program at Presbyterian College.
In the Story Telling class, a vote is taken over who gets to be “Samantha,” who finds notes from her shoes detailing her poor treatment of them and realizes she must make things right. During the run-through, it occurs to “Samantha” that she wouldn’t be coming to school without her book bag, thus requiring a minor change in the plot.
One of the instructors, Erica Cummins, points out that the story needs additional exposition: “How’s the audience supposed to know?”
The narration is adjusted.
Another story is a bit heavier. At a pool party, several of the boys decide to pull a prank by putting “something” in a girl’s drink. She passes out. Her friend calls the police. After an investigation, including an interrogation, the boys are arrested. “Veronica” regains consciousness and is taken to a hospital for treatment.
It’s a cautionary tale.
At the Boys Council, the goal of Michael Mack and Isaac Cooper is getting the boys to think. Kids need problem-solving skills. They often lack self-reliance. The games make them think. By trial, error and thought, they learn it is easier to keep the rubber football pinned between their thighs by hopping than walking, and another option is to hoist themselves with their hands, which they aren’t allowed to use to position the ball, on the desks on either side. It’s a relay race. It’s difficult to pass the spongy ball from one set of thighs to another in a position where it can be held for any length of time. Dropping the ball means starting over, so they learn to drop it right away so that they don’t waste time. Then they can reposition it.
The outdoor activity is basically playing baseball by playing kick ball. The “pitcher” rolls it. The “batter” kicks it instead, and it’s off to a merry dash around the bases, too. Soon it becomes obvious that the third-base line is the way to kick.
What they are learning is … how to learn. And that learning is fun.