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Robots, garden worms and colorful snacks

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Most children enjoy summer camp and this year in Rutherford County the consensus from one group of campers is no different.

Among the first camps of the season was held recently at the Grahamtown Center in Forest City.

The fifth year of the summer camp did not disappoint and was amazing, said director Kisha McDowell.

Camp wrapped up on Friday, June 17 with water games for campers. Running through sprinklers and tossing water filled balloons was definitely a hit.

Children ages 8 to 15 participated in the annual day camp with the older teens assisting the younger children as directed by McDowell.

There were three components to camp --gardening, culinary and technology.

One of the highlights of the camp was learning "coding."

"Coding for some people is the set of instructions created to communicate with computers," said one person. Through coding students can make computers perform tasks and allow students to be able to create video games, not just play them.

McDowell said the campers learned to code using Scratch, taught by Danny Smith, coach of the Omegabytes Joining Smith were members of the national-award winning robotics team from REaCH/Rutherford County Schools. The robotics team was on hand each day with Smith to teach the campers more about coding and about the robots built by Omegabytes.

Campers were also able to observe honey bees in a hive and they made food that represented things they learned from their garden.

McDowell said the campers made honey snacks and prior to making their snacks they learned about pollinating and how bees pollinate flowers.

The Omegabytes are GrahamTown community partners and have presented workshops in the past and during camp were able to spend even more time with campers.

"This 5th year of camp was amazing and we looked forward to a more challenging tech project, great gardening insight and trying new foods," McDowell said.

Hannah Bundy and Tracy Davis, staff members from the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Spindale,and Masters Gardeners worked with the campers on the importance of gardening. Master Gardeners taught gardening techniques. The gardening lessons for the campers can be used for many years and can be built upon, McDowell explained.

Campers created their own snacks with the assistance of Extension Agent Tracy Davis. She taught them food preparation, extending lessons learned in a garden, McDowell said.

The camp was presented again this year by the GTEAM, a nonprofit organization in Forest City with its mission to plan, support, educate and execute opportunities to enrich the quality of life for the Grahamtown Community and Rutherford County.

All participants had fun lessons in healthy living and healthy eating while taking gardening, cooking and technology classes at no cost for the camp.

The camp ran three hours each day with a break and snacks. Lunch was served before campers went home.

"The Grahamtown team summer camp has been in existence for five years and each year it has grown to include greater activities for the youth to participate. With the addition of the Omegabytes on last year, the culinary classes and the gardening education hosted by master gardeners, camp has proven to be a great success for all of those involved," McDowell concluded.

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