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Operation Destiny Summer Camp at Burke Middle School Ends in Celebration
7/1/2015 2:12:25 PM

Operation Destiny Summer Camp participants. Photo: Joel Woodhall

Cheryl Littlejohn. Photo: Joel Woodhall
By Joel Woodhall

Operation Destiny, a 12-day summer camp for children ages 11-16, supported by the new Burke District 20 Middle School, ended in celebration on Tuesday, June 30th. The celebration was combined with live musical performances, done by the students, and an award ceremony for the top performing students.

Cheryl Littlejohn, resident of Gastonia, North Carolina, has been here in Charleston, South Carolina for the last three weeks, running the summer camp. Coach Littlejohn and her seven other summer camp coaches made the last three weeks a success for more than 50 students, from the local area. This is the first year a summer camp like this has been held in Charleston, SC.

The summer camp was held Monday through Thursday, for the last three weeks and was not mandatory. The camps curriculum included Science, Technology, Engineering and English, Arts and Athletics, and Mathematics - STEAM. Students had the chance to participate in creating and building functional robots with Legos, growing cucumber plants, and making homemade ice cream with common household items. In addition to the coaches turning learning into a fun environment for the students, the program offered enrichment and academic classes, which served as a grade recovery program for students who were behind in their academics. Furthermore, students learned valuable life lessons, such as financial literacy, how to write and balance a checkbook, proper grooming standards, public etiquette, and team building skills.

Coach Pam Toledano, who is going to be a 6th grade science teacher at the new Burke District 20 Middle School this year, helped her students with the engineering portion of the camp. Coach T. and her students built Lego robots and improved their team building skills by following the given directions. Coach T. promotes out of the box thinking and design. “If we didn’t have thinking, we won’t have a future,” Coach T. explains.

Tanya Ascue, who works in the Exceptional Children Resource Department for Charleston County School District, worked on the science portion of the summer camp. Ascue praised her students and the program, as her students willingly came back for the whole camp. She encouraged more of the district administration and teachers to come out and see the program, from start to finish. “The camp has transformed the students thinking and the students attitude,” Ascue said.

Cheryl Littlejohn was the lead camp counselor for this year’s summer camp. Littlejohn graduated from the University of Tennessee, with a degree in criminal justice and played woman’s basketball for Head Coach Pat Summitt. She went on to work for the DEA and FBI, after she graduated. After working in law enforcement, Littlejohn followed her dreams and eventually became the Head Coach of woman’s basketball at the University of Minnesota. Littlejohn has been a motivational speaker for the last ten years and dedicates her time to helping young people.

The program also enlisted the help of public speakers to come and help the children know and understand their options for possible future careers. Speakers include professionals from the police department, military, and a prison worker.

Littlejohn explains that the most important thing in life is education. She says that this camp deals with real life issues. Littlejohn says that she hopes next year the camp is made into a district wide program. “Education is the key. We have to make kids think on their own,” says Littlejohn.


Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Anthony Brown Submitted: 7/8/2015
I think this is great for all kids I wish this camp was year round .

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