Camp Nooksack Brightens First Graders’ Final Weeks of School

Camp Nooksack Brightens First Graders’ Final Weeks of School
NV Media

When first grade students at Nooksack Elementary came to school and discovered classrooms outfitted in trees, fake fires, outdoor-style table clothes, canopies, lawn chairs, lanterns and all things camping they couldn’t have been more excited. 

It was, after all, time for Camp Nooksack. 

Camp Nooksack, a tradition started at Nooksack Elementary during the 2008-2009 school year by teacher Carla Holz after her own daughter, Madie, had a “camp” experience at her Bellingham elementary school, offered the teachers of young elementary students a fresh approach to keeping students academically engaged during the final weeks of the school year. The strategy continues to work. 

The multi-day Camp Nooksack event comes complete with a bounty of activities—nature walks, arts and crafts, camp songs, insect hunts and more—and every student received a purple tie-dye T-shirt to highlight the event. 

Holz says that the students get excited when they see Camp Nooksack set up and were eager to participate in all the experiences, whether simple things like sidewalk chalk and bubbles to the scavenger hunts and bug exploring (what better way to learn about insects than to hunt for your own?). 

“All of these activities gave students ideas for their writing,” Holz says. “We wrote in our camp journals daily and even wrote a postcard home.” 

In the past, Camp Nooksack consisted of one day of outdoor activities where the entire group of first grade students came together, but this year was a multi-day outdoor event that included songs (students have the songs in the camp journal they can bring home), activities and crafts they could make again at home. “We hope parents will be inspired to try these or something new in the summer,” Holz says 

Katie Brown, Nooksack Elementary principal, says she was impressed with the work of the teachers and parents consistently commented about how excited their students were to attend Camp Nooksack. 

In a fun turn of events for Holz and fellow first-grade teachers Holly Craig and Megan Kiktavy, the fourth teacher helping make Camp Nooksack a success is none other than a former first grader who provided inspiration for the concept: teacher Madie Holz.