Kids Learn Importance of First Amendment at 'Speak Your Mind' Summer Camp

Published: Jul. 13, 2017 at 6:37 PM EDT
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A little rain didn't stop kids from having fun at a week-long summer camp held at Viles Arboretum in Augusta.

Combining a nature camp with hands-on experiences that teach campers about being an active citizen, the 'Speak Your Mind' camp isn't your typical summer getaway.

Campers in Augusta are keeping their minds and bodies active on summer break. While the rain kept kids inside Thursday, they continued working on a mural depicting the five freedoms afforded to Americans by the first amendment.

"There happened to be five kids and five freedoms within the first amendment so they've each chosen a person to represent each of those. So we're in the process of painting that and that's one of our end projects," said Abigail Stratton, amp organizer from Children's Discovery Museum.

Ranging from ages six to eleven, these kids are getting the traditional summer camp experience by meeting new friends, participating in arts and crafts activities, as well as hiking and gaining a stronger appreciation for nature on less rainy days.

But they're also learning more about why the freedom of religion, the press, free speech, and the right to petition and assemble are so valuable as a citizen of this country at this new camp program offered by the Gannet House Project First Amendment Museum and the Children's Discovery Museum.

"It's important because it gives people the freedom to do things without the government telling them they can't or they have to do this or that," said Adelle MacLeay, a 9-year-old camper from Rome.

They're also exploring how to take ownership of their opinions by learning how to write letters to editors on topics and issues that are important to them, such as...

"How girls can change the way boys think of girls and to not let it bother girls," said Shee Sculli, a 10-year-old camper from Pittston.

"My cause is to stop polluting the water because some people like to fish in the water and if we keep polluting the water then there won't be any more fish," said Zuri Voorhees, an 11-year-old camper from Augusta.

Campers also drew themselves however they like accompanied by their favorite hobbies and interests.

"I made it out of tons of animal parts because I really like animals and they're my favorite thing in the whole wide world," said Michael, a six-year-old camper from Winslow.

While the camp's first year was a bit light in attendance, it fulfilled the intentions of organizers by giving kids the opportunity to express their opinions and ideas through storytelling, artwork, and writing.

"I would say it's been a great success so I think we could see this going forward," said Rebecca Lazure, camp organizer from Gannett House Project First Amendment Museum.