The Studio Blog Archive

A few posts we've written over the years

Camp Woodchuck

Forever in my heart
Malarie - Camp Woodchuck VISTA

By Malarie Cook, Camp Woodchuck VISTA

Volunteering at Rainbows’ Camp Woodchuck has been the highlight of my summer. My name is Malarie Cook and I am the summer VISTA for Camp Woodchuck. I grew up in a small town called Harper and attended Cowley County Community College for my first two years before transferring to Wichita State University. I am now only a year away from getting my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work! I plan to work for a year then go back for my Masters.

I chose to work at Camp Woodchuck because I wanted to have some experience with children before getting into my field of study, and Camp seemed like a fun and challenging atmosphere. And boy was I right! My duties ranged from sidewalk chalk to exercise cube, to helping with snacks and lunch to decorating the stage for the Fashion Show. During the Fashion Show, it was amazing to see all the different personalities come out and to watch the kids break out of their shells. Having that experience was one of the best I could ever imagine and I would not trade it for anything in the world   

Most important to me was getting to interact with the campers and get to know the kids. The best way I got to know all the campers was to sit down and talk with them and make sure they felt heard. I spent time getting to know them while sharing in activities they like, for example playing a game, pushing them on a swing, the list could go on and on. Seeing the campers everyday puts a smile on my face. This experience will forever be in my heart and the campers hold a special place in my heart, too.   

Letter from the President

Early care and education

I recently participated in a Community Engagement Session sponsored by The Children’s Cabinet, Department of Children and Families, Department of Health and Environment, and Department of Education. These four State agencies collaborated last year in applying for a federal Preschool Planning Grant for Birth through age Five. Kansas was one of 46 States/Territories who received one of these grants in the amount of $4,482,305.

This grant is designed to help states conduct a comprehensive statewide birth through five needs assessment to be followed by strategic planning. The overall purpose of this strategic plan is to improve the quality of care for young children, enhance parent choice and expand the number of providers, types and settings across Kansas. As a part of this process, these agencies have been hosting numerous Community Engagement sessions across the State.

Why is building a more comprehensive quality early childhood system important? Ninety percent of a child’s brain is established before the age of five! Therefore, early intervention is key to improving outcomes for our children. By supporting quality early care and education, including health care and social/emotional supports, we are helping to reduce the need for costlier interventions in education, mental health, and the criminal justice system in the future. Imagine that – if we put our resources into helping young children and their families before the age of five, we will have healthier children in all aspects of their development.

Now that is a wise investment! Let’s hope that we continue to see emphasis and investment of resources for early care and education. One of my favorite quotes is from Frederick Douglass “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”. As Kansans, we all have a stake in this.

Deb Voth, President

Love What You Do

Do What You Love

By Lynlea Southards, Family Support Services Program Coordinator

Each day as the Family Support Service Coordinator is unique, fun and full of learning experiences. I’m truly grateful to be a part of the Rainbows’ family. I look forward to coming to Kids’ Cove every morning. My office is located where we serve the children and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I enjoy being close to the kids and being a part of the care we provide.

The wonderful families and kids we serve provide experiences that are special and at times are full of unexpected moments. Some of the moments I cherish are the waves, smiles and greetings I get throughout the day. I have several kids that will stop by and visit each day. Their visits give me the opportunity to learn about them, what they like and see their amazing personalities. This summer I have attended the choir trips during Camp Woodchuck. Watching the unexpected moments of a child celebrating the completion of a song with a high five or fist bump with a friend, or a youth breakdancing on the floor during the performance has been wonderful. These moments make everything we do worth it!

As the Family Support Services Coordinator, I also get the opportunity to watch the interaction with the staff and children we serve. I’m overwhelmed with emotions at times when I see the passion and dedication of the staff. I have seen a staff member singing and comforting a small child who is having a difficult time in transition. I’ve watched a staff member playing tag with a child and the child laughing and chasing the staff member around the gym in their wheelchair. Both experiences are so incredibly unique and special and a small glimpse into the amazing relationship and memories that the kids and staff are developing that will last a lifetime.

The Family Support Services program touches lives every day. As the Program Coordinator it is important to me that we provide the best services possible. Through it all, the children are what inspires all of us!

Camp Woodchuck

We are Family

By Tiffany Graf, Family Support Services Assistant Coordinator and Camp Director

The Voices of the Rainbow Choir is made up of all the campers and staff of Camp Woodchuck. The campers have great personalities that shine when they perform. This year Camp planning staff chose three songs for the campers and staff to sing: “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, “We are Family” by Sister Sledge and “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus.  

Throughout the summer, the choir visits local businesses to thank them for supporting Camp Woodchuck. Without the support from area businesses, Rainbows would not be able to provide the fun field trips and activities that make Camp Woodchuck such a wonderful summer camp experience for our children with special needs.

When The Voices of the Rainbow Choir sings, it is a performance.  Not only do their voices join together in the songs, their joy and excitement also fill the air. It is almost impossible not to join in the singing and dancing…and be inspired. After the campers perform, they visit with members of the audience. This helps our kids develop social skills and gives the audience members a chance to visit with the kids. As Camp Director of Camp Woodchuck, I want to thank the many individuals who have welcomed us into their businesses. We hope we put a smile on your faces.

July 4th Holiday Weekend

Party Planning
July 4th

By Carol Martin, Finance Department, Rainbows United—Kids’ Point

Summer fun begins at home! If a ritzy tropical beach resort is not in your budget this time of year, create family memories with these three sizzling options.

Invite a handful of your child’s friends and their parents to a backyard splash party. Encourage everyone to wear swimsuits or clothes they don’t mind getting wet. For those who forget, provide extra towels, sunscreen and sunglasses.

If you have a pool, make sure to have lots of adult supervision in and out of the water. If not, a splash zone is the way to go. A small plastic pool or two, a slip-n-slide, some squirt guns or large sponges and a sprinkler are all you need for an epic mini-water park. Put it over the top with plastic buckets, bowls and bins of water to fill and splash out. An inflatable kiddie pool or tabletop buffet cooler are $5 at most dollar stores, while beach balls and swim rings are a mere $1.

Construct a pool noodle obstacle course from discount store items. This will keep the kids active when they’re done splashing. Children can jump over, crawl under and step around pool noodles placed in the yard.

Fill toy plastic buckets with fresh fruit, crackers or other snacks and use sand shovels for serving utensils. A star-shaped cookie cutter can be handy to make fruit or sandwiches more fun. Jell-O cups are quick and kid-friendly. Go for a red, white and blue theme with chilled foods and no cooking!

Why go all the way to a national park or crowded lakeside, when you can camp out in your own backyard? After you set a budget, allow your children to plan a menu and grocery shop within their means. Pitch a tent in a grassy spot and set up lawn chairs and blankets. If you really want to “rough it,” leave all electronic devices in the house.

If you were a Scout, you may remember Hobo Packets, aka Silver Turtles or foil packet meals. This type of dinner is quick, simple and most of all, a breeze to clean up. They can be baked in the oven or placed on an outdoor grill. After the meal, play games like bean bag toss or Uno, or make buddy bracelets and chase fireflies. Wear glow sticks and place solar lights around the campsite, and put a flashlight near each sleeping bag in the tent.

If you have a fire pit or chimenea, make everyone’s favorite outdoor dessert—s’mores. While everyone is munching, read an adventure book like Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, or Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories.

Neighborhood block parties are the best way to get outside and make some new friends this summer. Copy off a flyer with party details, grab the kids and go door-to-door with the invites. Delegate grills, drinks, games and other details to volunteers. The secret weapon when planning a block party is this: keep it simple. No fancy hors d’oeuvres or ice sculptures, just have fun!

Resources like Signup Genius make it easy to invite guests and find out who is bringing what. The best part? It’s free. Pinterest displays a plethora of results when you type “summer block party” in the search box. If you’ve never played host before, start very small with just hot dogs and chips on paper plates.

Bring your own lawn chairs and shade canopies; if you want to block off the street, be sure to contact the city to see if you need permits. Prepare handwashing/clean-up and trash stations. Set up outdoor games, like corn hole, lawn Twister, eating contests, bucket ball toss, water pong, or slip and slide. Appoint a talented teenager or adult to provide fun and festive music. Borrow portable tables from friends or a church.

If no one in the neighborhood has a swimming pool, place several plastic kiddie pools together in the yard. Kids will have a blast moving from one to another. Set up a small sprinkler or two and make it a splash park!

On the menu, begin with hummus, guacamole, queso or ranch dip with assorted chips, crackers and raw vegetables. Recruit several grill masters to set up hamburger, hot dog, bratwurst, chicken and veggie stations. Ask each family to contribute a salad or side dish and BYOM (bring your own meat). If it’s easier, you could gather $5 each from families and buy the meat yourself. Drinks can be kept icy in coolers or cheap baby pools. Think bottled water, sodas and juice boxes, along with adult beverages.

An ice cream sundae bar is simple to set up and loved by all ages. Place sauces and toppings in a water-filled crockpot to stay warm and pourable. Paper cups or bowls with nuts, candies, fruit and whipped cream complete the table. However, if your neighborhood is large, don’t spend big money on ice cream. Instead, fill a cooler with popsicles and make some microwave popcorn.

At dusk, gather partygoers on blankets or chairs in the yard and show an outdoor movie on a large bedsheet or side of a house. Pick a fun musical to sing along or a kid-friendly animated film.

Block parties bring opportunities to network and build trust with your neighbors. You never know when you might need an emergency babysitter, a cup of sugar, or a warm haven when you’re locked out of your house on a freezing day.

Make this summer one to remember with a cool and simple outdoor celebration.