Gateway: Living

Voyager Elementary’s Camp Read-A-Lot gets students excited about reading

In a kayak comforted by a huge sleeping teddy bear, Voyager third-grader Grant Harris enjoys reading his very own copy of “Skylanders Giants.”
In a kayak comforted by a huge sleeping teddy bear, Voyager third-grader Grant Harris enjoys reading his very own copy of “Skylanders Giants.” Special to the Gateway

Thanks to a tip from Voyager Elementary Special Education teacher Leslie Walker, last month I spent another delightful evening at the school’s exciting Camp Read-A-Lot program.

It’s Voyager’s third annual Camp Read-A-Lot. The event is designed to bring families, staff and community members in for a fun night of camping-themed literacy activities.

“It is inspiring to see so much fun centered around getting kids excited about reading,” Walker said. “Students look forward to this event each year. I am thankful for the support of the Gig Harbor Garden Tour, Pierce County Library and Voyager PTA, as well as the many staff members who make it possible.”

I was impressed that the, “fun centered around kids” embraced kids of all ages — including mine! It was a fun-filled learning party for all ages!

Stirring memories for me, just inside the colorfully decorated gym, Voyager teacher Laurie Scherer coached kids on how to do the “Hokey Pokey” to the accompaniment of Voyager music teacher Ruth Cole on keyboard and on guitar Andrew Burnes, who teaches PACE (Peninsula Accelerated Curriculum and Enrichment). Great sounds!

Oliver Tylor, a second-grader in teacher Maddy Buchanan’s class, “liked going fishing and doing Jenga and getting trail mix.” He also “liked listening to stories on the computers.”

“Tylor is a hoot. You have to meet this boy,” Walker said. “Full of energy and enthusiasm.”

I wasn’t even noticed by Natalia and Lila Immerman, Voyager twin first-graders, as they pulled their catches from a fish pond. For them, serious stuff!

For first-grader Christopher Costanza, “Bingo was my favorite. I also went in the cave. There was a big teddy bear and my friend was in there. I read a book — a Thanksgiving book.”

At the paint and design booth, first-grader Lena Giovanini found the program fascinating as she tried her hand at creating a work worthy of displaying.

“We were reading a book inside a tent,” said fourth-grader Maria Miguel Esteban. “I was reading a funny book. My favorite station was singing and reading in the tent. Mrs. Scherer, Mrs. Cole, and Ms. Walker were there. I liked Bingo because Mrs. Kjelland was there, and I won a prize!”

Classmate Mason Alley felt “It was fun. You got to read a lot. You get to play games. Uno was my favorite, and getting a book.”

Voyager first-grader Molly and her brother, kindergartener Toner Shields, were absorbed in creating celestial constellations out of marshmallows and toothpicks at Camp Read-A-Lot’s booth on space and our solar system. They had no idea there was a camera in the room.

“I love all the fun activities they have at Camp Read-A-Lot and the treat you get at the end,” declared first-grader Lilianna Lapp. “I wrote a funny story with Mrs. Lagao. Oh, and I love selecting books to take home to keep.”

Like second-grader Oliver Tylor, Dawson Schmidt, a fifth-grader in Nancy Taylor’s class said, “I liked the games, especially Jenga.”

I hate to confess: I haven’t a clue what Jenga is all about.

For more information, please contact Walker at 253-530-4868.

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at