Sequoyah is launching a new summer camp, Sequoyah Summerhouse, in the summer of 2017. The camp, which starts on June 26th and ends August 25th, will comprise two programs, the Day Program (in which students cook, go on field trips, and do other activities) and Summer Classes (one- or three-week classes on specific topics). Both programs together are expected to enroll up to to 250 students, aged five to 15, throughout the nine weeks the programs will operate.
Kelsey Wetmore, Sequoyah’s Daycare Director and Sports Coordinator, will head the operation. She was approached approximately two years ago by Head of School Josh Brody and Assistant Head Azizi Williams “to start thinking about what a Sequoyah summer program might look like,” Wetmore said.
With the help of Elena Phleger, Director of Development and Communications, Wetmore researched other programs’ specifics, like dates, prices, and activities, and designed the program based on her findings.
For the past four summers, Steve and Kate’s Camp operated a program on Sequoyah’s K–8 campus. Sequoyah’s Business Manager Tom Wheatley said, “we just thought that we could do a really terrific program and we think the program that we’re offering is much better than what Steve and Kate’s was offering. It’s what we want to offer [and] what our families want. Kelsey is really putting on a terrific program.”
Wheatley said the only reason the school ended the relationship with Steve and Kate’s was to start Summerhouse, but “we always had some operating issues here and there. They lived up to their obligations [and there were] no real issues.”
Sometime after the school informed Steve and Kate’s about the end to their relationship, the camp sent an email to the families of previous camp-goers that “some parents” informed them that Sequoyah was starting its own program. Collin Davey, who now runs Steve and Kate’s in Altadena and formerly the Pasadena/Sequoyah camp, sent the email, which read, “I reached out to the school administration several times over the last few months to renew our contract” but claimed he did not receive a response.
Williams said, as Wheatley did, “our business manager was in conversation with them and made it clear that we would be moving on long before they sent the email.” Wheatley said the email “was kind of an unfortunate communication on their part,” but from his perspective there was “no harm done.”
Describing the end to the Steve and Kate’s relationship as “business-like,” Wheatley said the school “simply informed them [Steve and Kate’s Camp] that we were not going to renew their contract for the upcoming year.” The school ended the relationship with the camp “sometime in the fall … to give them as much notice as possible so that they could recover and find an alternative location if they wanted to,” said Wheatley.
The Barefoot Times reached out to Davey but he declined to comment on the situation. Davey did say: “over the last few months we’ve established a new partnership with the Pasadena Waldorf School, which is a beautiful campus and a great fit for us. We’re excited about summer 2017 and our 37th summer of Steve & Kate’s Camp.”
Wetmore added that the program offers Sequoyah the opportunity to ”use our own campus and facilities to their best advantage, offer opportunities for our teachers to participate if they wanted to do so, and infuse the program with Sequoyah’s approach to learning.”
Emily Singer, parent of Ila Rae Brookshire and Sequoyah’s Director of Curriculum and Student Support, said her family “liked some things about Steve and Kate’s,” like the sewing program they offered, but noted that their program “didn’t feel akin to Sequoyah’s values,” pointing to a gameshow the camp would run every day that gave camp-goers a chance to win prizes. Singer said she is “super excited” about Sequoyah’s new program, especially because “my children feel at home with the staff” and are looking forward to a more “laid back feel.”
Classes offered during the Summer Classes program will include various theater, art, dance, language arts, math, science, music, sports, spanish, cooking, technology, and test-prep classes. Classes, which will be limited to a 15-to-one student-teacher ratio, are taught by a range of Sequoyah faculty, as well as others “who have been referred to us or have sought us out,” Wetmore said.
Some classes, like Intro to Filmmaking, Problem Solving, and Songwriting Workshop, are five-day intensive courses students attend for six hours every day, while one intensive course requires a three-week commitment. Some classes are available during all three of the three-week long sessions. Others are only available during specific sessions.
Other classes, like Photography and the Photo Book, Theater Games, Astronomy, and Skateboarding, are two to two-and-a-half-hour, three-week long courses. Courses are open to students who will be nine through 15 as of September 1st, though specific classes may be limited to a more specific age range. A full detailing of course offerings (including when each class is available) and tuition plans are available on Sequoyah’s website.
Laura Haney, Sequoyah’s High School Science teacher, is teaching two summer courses, Astronomy and Science Communication, both open to seventh- through tenth-graders. Haney said that her astronomy class will be “an introduction to space science, focusing on our origin story,” whereas the Science Communication class “will split its time between science and communication.” The latter class is based on a workshop Haney developed for graduate students at UCLA.
The Day Program offers students aged five to 15 a full day of activities, projects, and field trips. Wetmore described the program as “a place where learners find what they can do and realize their unique potential through supported exploration, creativity, travel and play.”
Students in the Day Program will be put in a group of eight to ten students organized under an assigned “Crew Member.” These groups go on a field trip (usually walking trips) on an assigned day each week.
Students will walk to “many hidden gems of our city,” Wetmore said, such as the Gamble House, the Norton Simon Museum, and the Arroyo Seco. As with Steve and Kate’s, day passes will be available, allowing parents to pick and choose which days their student(s) will attend. An unlimited membership will also be available for students seeking to attend as many dates as wanted.
A Crew-in-Training program will also be open to students aged 12 to 15 who are “looking towards their future in the working world,” Wetmore said. The four-week long program includes one week of camp counselor training, which Wetmore noted includes health and safety, job training, and other skills training for working with kids.
For the last three weeks, students in the Crew-in-Training program then act as partners to the Summerhouse Day Crew. Wetmore said they will have “real responsibilities and a deep role in Summerhouse kids’ experience.”
Families may register for Summer Classes or purchase Day Program Passes on Sequoyah’s website, at k8.sequoyahschool.org/sequoyah-summer.