Profits from Camp Kensington will benefit school district

Both as a teacher and as a parent of children in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, Katie Topping worries about “our ever-dwindling school days.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Teacher Katie Topping says her camp will help kids stay sharp over the summer.And with the summer break fast approaching, she believes she has found a way to extend their learning.

“I believe kids need breaks,” Topping said. “But I also know that they will benefit from additional learning opportunities.”

Her solution to summertime’s learning doldrums: Camp Kensington, a six-week camp for children aged 5 to 12.

“My goal ... is to provide a fun and safe environment where each child continues to learn over the summer while having a brilliant time,” Topping said.

A licensed teacher of six years, Topping teaches fifth grade at Mill Park Elementary School in the David Douglas School District in Portland. Like many teachers, she enjoys having time off in the summer — but “12 weeks is a lot of time,” she said.

Unlike many teachers, though, who seek summertime work to supplement their pay, Topping is doing this not for her own benefit but for the West Linn-Wilsonville School District. She will divide the profits from Camp Kensington evenly between Music and Art Partners (MAP) and the West Linn-Wilsonville Education Foundation. Both organizations provide funding to all schools in the district.

“I know firsthand how difficult budget cuts have been,” she said. “It’s exciting to be able to help those efforts while doing something I love — working with kids.”

The camp structure is designed to engage. Each week will explore a different country, a theme that allows campers to discover cultures, learn about art and music, create experiments and play fun games.

“For each country,” Topping said, “I would like them to walk away with more knowledge, a little taste of the language and a sense of the culture.”

Activities and events will include art, scavenger hunts, nature walks, singing, drama, sports and science.

“For areas like science,” Topping said, “I don’t believe in ‘kid coating.’ For the egg drop, it’s physics. Making homemade ice cream is about different states of matter. Is it fun? Yes, but there are always opportunities to continue the learning.”

Camp Kensington will run weekly from July 15 to Aug. 23 at West Linn’s Lutheran Church, located at 20390 Willamette Drive. The price currently is $165 per week; fees rise to $190 per week on June 10. Half-day options are available. For $85 kids can attend from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through June 9 and for $90 starting on June 10.

Camp counselors all have experience working with children and will work at camp with a maximum of 10 campers at a time. To register or learn more, visit

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