As students and their families filled the Decker Middle School cafeteria last Thursday for an end-of-camp celebratory dinner, the camp’s English teacher welcomed families by giving a speech about the enduring memories of his summers spent at his Boy Scouts camp. The events that followed left our campers with their own bank of fond memories of a summer spent learning, building new skills and making new friends.
Throughout the course of the night, students presented their summer work to their peers and families, showed younger siblings the collages they made and the personal stories they recorded, and stepped forward to receive awards and recognition for their hard work and leadership. Awards given to the students included the “Change Maker Award,” “Force for Good Award” and “Spirit of Service Award.” The final and most coveted award of the night carried much anticipation; students worked for weeks on creative projects for the chance to win a brand new bike.
Texas Mutual Insurance Co. built 14 new bikes to give away to selected students at Decker, complete with encouraging cards, helmets and locks, all to support the summer learning initiatives of UWATX and the students who made the choice to return to school during the summer to continue their education.
At Decker Middle School, camp staff saw the bike giveaway as an opportunity for the students to display their leadership and creativity by opting in to a bike contest. Students could either give an oral presentation, draw a picture or write an essay about the benefits of bike-riding in order to enter the contest.
At the end of the night, seven Decker students stood on stage next to their new bikes and before their proud parents and friends. Project submissions included a hand-drawn poster about the advantages of cycling over driving, a cheery and color-filled painting of an idyllic summer bike ride and an essay from an older sister who wanted a bike in order to model fitness for her younger brother and find a new way to build family bonds.
Thank you to Texas Mutual for this special gift, Samsung Semiconductor for the grant that made this program possible and to everyone who made this year’s Decker summer program successful: Austin Young Chamber, Chase, AmeriCorps NCCC, the Young Leaders Society, Kerbey Lane Cafe, Accenture, H-E-B, Camp Fire Central Texas, Creative Action and Manor ISD!
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