Ranger Reading Camp ends for the summer

By BRITTANY FHOLER
Cove Leader-Press

The Copperas Cove Independent School District is finishing up another year of holding its Ranger Reading Camp. 
Throughout the month, students at the Ranger Reading Camp have been visited by the Copperas Cove Police Department, CCISD’s District Nurse and Health Science students, soldiers from Fort Hood’s 1st CAV Division 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team and most recently the Copperas Cove Fire Department. 
The soldiers from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team visited the students at the Ranger Reading Camp last week on Wednesday. The kids rotated to different stations during a brief visit. 
Sgt. Natalie Reynaga shared details about her job and the importance of literacy, while her colleagues helped the kids climb into a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) at the next station. 
“I’m military intelligence, and I basically explained to them the importance of reading within my MOS and how we use reading as a way to constantly exercise our brain so that we’re always informed about what’s going on, not just with our Army, but with our enemy’s armies as well,” Reynaga said. “It’s just so much fun.”
Reynaga said that she enjoyed getting to come out and share her knowledge and interact with the kids. 
“I have two children of my own, so education is very important, and I think sometimes we get lost with all of the electronics and the video games, and it’s just important to just be hands on with them,” Reynaga said. “As long as you speak to them, and they can understand you and you get down to their level so that you make sure that you’re actually interested in what they have to say, I think it’s very important.”
Reynaga said the silliest question she was asked was whether she took showers in pickle juice. The students also asked questions about what soldiers wear and specifically asked about Reynaga’s makeup. Other questions related to what type of grades they needed to be in the Army and about the different jobs that soldiers could do. 
“Safety is another big thing, especially for them since they’re children,” Reynaga said. “Obviously, we always constantly have to have our eyes on them, so I just explained to them the uniform that we wear when we ride inside our vehicle right here, and the importance of each item.”
Reynaga said she mentioned scenarios like what equipment to wear if the vehicle were to roll-over, catch fire, etc.
Dave Reese, 11, will be in sixth grade next month. He was one of the campers this year who really enjoyed getting to see the equipment and vehicle that the soldiers from Fort Hood brought out last week. 
He tried on the helmet and even had the opportunity to go up into the JLTV (joint light tactical vehicle). He said the best part about the camp
“The best part of it is I got to see some actual soldiers from Fort Hood, and they brought us some of their stuff, the equipment they have,” Reese said. “It’s pretty cool.”
Nyasia Daniels, 10, will be in fifth grade next month. She said she had a lot of fun getting to meet the soldiers and see what they do. She said she really liked the vehicle the most and hearing the soldiers explain what it is used for and how they do their jobs.  
Daniels said she really liked the Ranger Reading Camp because it let her make new friends and meet new teachers. 
CCISD has been offering Ranger Reading Camp each summer for the past five years. The program started out as one of several projects/programs funded by a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) grant, but the funding from the grant expires the end of August, but the budget for the camp closed out in May, according to Camp Director Heather Peacock. This summer’s camp was funded fully by the district as a result. 
The DoDEA grant was focused on accomplishing goals of increasing reading scores at two CCISD campuses and increasing the social/emotional support at two junior high campuses and four elementary campuses. 
“The district has decided that this is a program that they want to keep because we do push literacy and the importance of literacy, so they felt like this camp was important, and it’s also been well-received in the community,” Peacock said. 
This year, the Ranger Reading Camp was opened to all six elementary campuses after parents asked about their kid being able to participate. There were 215 students registered this year, and Peacock said there has been an average attendance of 170 kids per day. 
 “We decided to do the superhero theme this year,” Peacock said. “We felt with the pandemic and the last year, the kids would benefit from seeing the everyday heroes that we have. We did talk about superheroes as well because it’s fun, so we did a little superhero, but we also did a day on what is a hero. What does that mean to be a hero? Then we talked about how they’re heroes in some ways, and they can be their own heroes and for other people.”
Teachers recommend students for the camp based on reading needs, and once those spots are filled, then the district opened up the camp and invited other students to fill the remaining spots. 
 The camp is at no cost to the students, who received a free t-shirt as well as free breakfast and lunch. The students also received a free book every week to build their own personal library at home.

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