Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Camp inspires kids to have fun while learning

Date: 7/11/2012

July 11, 2012

By Debbie Gardner

AGAWAM — Making music with The Trashtones from Six Flags New England was just one of the activities the InspireWorks Enrichment summer camp program offered in its temporary home at Robinson Park Elementary School on June 28.

The camp, in its fifth summer in Agawam, was hosting a special Rock Star theme day, complete with a student-created stars walk of fame, lots of karaoke, an animated performance of the camp's song, and a lunchtime concert by the Trash Tones, culminating in group percussion lessons.

Melissa Pinkerton, communications manager for Six Flags New England, told Reminder Publications the park was happy to fill former park entertainer and InspireWorks counselor Hali Levesque's request for a lunchtime guest appearance of The Trashtones percussion group, as they seemed a "great fit" for the camp's Rock Star day activities.

But it wasn't just all fun and games for campers that day, and the Trashtones appearance was in addition to the instructional swimming, cooking lessons, art class, science experiments and sports activities that campers who range in age from boys and girls entering first through seventh grade take part in on a daily basis at InspireWorks.

"The theme days are a chance to get away from the enrichment activities and let them know it's OK to dress up [and have fun]," said Assistant Camp Director Itza Martinez, who sported KISS-style eye makeup and a rocker's headband for the day.

During the school year, Martinez, like many of the counselors and administrators at the camp, is a teacher. Her home is the art department at the Hampden Charter School of Science in Chicopee.

Camp Director Jim Angelos said the summer camp program is a natural outgrowth of the after-school enrichment programs his company offers throughout Western Massachusetts and Northern Connecticut during the school term.

The InspireWorks concept is to go a step beyond the traditional summer camp experience, offering fine arts instead of arts and crafts, hands-on science experiments and cooking lessons, engineering-based projects and improvisational theater performances as part of the weekly curriculum. The camp offers seven to eight one-week sessions each summer.

Ten-year-old Riley Fanning of Feeding Hills, a second-year camper at InspireWorks, said he asked his parents to let him attend again this summer.

"I really like it; there's so many activities it's hard to choose [a favorite]," Fanning said when asked to describe the best part of camp. He finally settled on the game, "pickle," and the cooking lessons.

Martinez said the camp lists the recipes prepared in each of the camp's cooking sessions on InspireWorks' Facebook page. Fanning said his favorite cooking lesson was a recipe from last summer, bacon spinach pasta and that he'd helped his mom prepare the dish at home after learning the steps at camp.

Camp Counselor Darcy Staruch said Fanning's experience is one of the main reasons she joined InspireWorks as a camp counselor this summer.

"It's really fun to see the [campers] learning cooking and percussion . activities that they might take with them into real life," Staruch said. "It's just so great that [Jim] brings things in from the outside, things that [students] don't get to do during the school year."

Angelos, who admits he's been involved with summer camp programs since he was a child, said his goal in creating the InspireWorks experience was to "bring in something not being introduced at the YMCA or town [summer] camps."

For more information about InspireWorks summer and after school programs, visit or check out its Facebook page,

Bookmark and Share