Local Lifestyle, News

Starting Points summer camp in Paw Paw expands with more family fun

by Kate Evans

Morgan County Starting Points has been holding a summer camp at the Paw Paw Municipal Park for a number of years now with lots of fun activities for kids and parents.  The camp has expanded this year to three days a week-Magic Monday, Wacky Wednesday and Fun Friday-for the month of June and has added STEM activities, free books and more community partnerships.

Starting Points Paw Paw summer camp coordinator Tina Badley said that everything has expanded this year.

The summer camp’s main funding comes from the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation.  Starting Points Director Audrey Morris wrote a second grant for STEM activities (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which also allowed them to provide free books.

Magic Mondays!

On Magic Mondays, activities include music and art. Their AmeriCorps VISTA Devon Abe is bringing in musicians from the community playing different instruments each week including acoustic and electric guitar, effects pedals, strings, keyboards and percussion.

Musicians that have volunteered to work with the kids are guitarists Jesse Hughart and Mike Crofton, fiddler and banjo player Ben Townsend and Abe, who plays piano, keyboards and percussion.

Abe said he hopes this will inspire an interest in playing music in kids that have never been able to play an instrument or that haven’t been that close to a musical instrument.

Monday art has included nature paintings and making birds with Hiroko Rubin and a play dough station, Badley said.

Wacky Wednesdays

Wacky Wednesday STEM staff are Jenny Ellis from Redeemer Church and Carmen Winiarski from the Morgan County Extension Office.  STEM projects have been balloon-powered cars, a zipline with a model helicopter and painting wooden cars and creating a cardboard racetrack.

Fun Fridays

Fun Fridays have offered  storytelling with Hiroko, splash pad, water games and kickball.  Today they have a dunk tank, Badley said.  There is also a play area for younger children that has Lincoln logs, Magna tiles, Brio track, matchbox cars and other activities.

Summer camp staff include Tina Badley, Trisha Paul, Kristi DeHaven and Devon Abe.

Parents watch over children that are enjoying the wading pool and sprinkler to cool off at Paw Paw Municipal park at the Starting Points summer camp in Paw Paw.

Transforming the camp

The Paw Paw summer camp began as a two-week camp that met daily, then it was one day a week for the whole summer, Badley said.  Camp had a second day added during the COVID pandemic, but participation dwindled as everyone had to wear masks.

Last year, Starting Points changed the camp model to three weeks of two days a week of activities and moved the camp to June, Badley said.  Camp did very well and had the best attendance yet.

This year, summer camp runs three days a week for the full month of June.  They have 60 kids registered and have been averaging 50 kids and 15 parents each day.


More community partners are adding to the program this year. This is the first year Starting Points has partnered with the Morgan Arts Council. (MAC) MAC artist Hiroko Rubin is teaching Japanese culture, storytelling and she and  Laura Falcon are leading Mindful Movement — a form of yoga for kids, which Morgan County Schools is sponsoring.

Local artist Hiroko Rubin leads a group of parents, children and staff in Mindful Movement, a form of Yoga for kids. Mindful Movement is sponsored by Morgan County Schools and Rubin’s Japanese culture and storytelling is sponsored by the Morgan Arts Council.

The Morgan County Partnership sent staff Kristi DeHaven and Amber Morris to help with camp, too.

Eddy Rubin is leading nature programs the last two weeks of camp. Tri-State-Life or Drugs staff are manning the art and STEM stations.  Amy Tutor and Liz Campbell from the West Virginia University Extension Office were sharing strawberry s’mores in their Food of the Month program, she said.

The Farmer’s Market donated plants and Glascock’s Produce has donated tomatoes, Badley said. Linda Ridgeway and Rhonda Kidwell help with food and prepare a light lunch.  Aetna provides water bottles for camp. The Town of Paw Paw lets Starting Points and partners use the park free of charge.

Upcoming fifth grader Athena Brandenburg said her favorite thing about the Paw Paw summer camp is friends.  Her favorite camp day is Friday as she likes sports.

“I like it.  It’s fun,” she said of camp.

Upcoming first grader Amara Whisner said she likes the water games, Japanese culture and Yoga.

Upcoming eighth grader Lillian Paddock said she likes the Wednesday activities and the hands-on science projects and how they have more advanced science for the older kids and some for the younger ones.

“I like that the older kids will help with the stations — it’s not just adults,” Paddock said.

Badley said she loves the amount of community participation in the Paw Paw summer camp and that the parents are working with their children on their kids’ projects and activities at camp.

Younger participants in the Starting Points Paw Paw summer camp enjoy activities such as Lincoln logs, Magna tiles, Brio track and Matchbox cars in a separate pavilion play area.