Summer fun at school

Amy Lisenbe/Nevada Appeal

Amy Lisenbe/Nevada Appeal

At Dayton Elementary School this week, the gym reverberated with tiny but loud voices and shrieks of delight while the rest of the school was quiet.

Camp Tumbleweeds was in full swing.

The day camp sponsored by Lyon County Human Services provides activities, games, field trips, snacks and fun for kids and a needed break for parents.

Renee Alkire, in charge of the 59 kids enrolled and 25 that showed up in the Dayton Elementary School gym on Monday, has had to come up with some imaginative plans to keep the little ones occupied.

On Monday she made a volcano.

Apparently mixing vinegar, baking soda and red food coloring in a water bottle will cause the concoction to bubble up and force its way to the top.

Before filling the bottle with the volatile mixture, Alkire and the kids put colorful Play-Doh all around the bottle, to make it look like a mountain. Then they added the mixture and, as Ryan Johnson, 7, described it, "it went like, PWHOOSH!"

Keely Rain Gomes, 7, liked the visuals.

"It was pretty cool because of the colors," she said.

When asked how she knew those three ingredients could make a volcano, Alkire, who is a preschool teacher, laughed.

"I've been working with kids a long time," she said.

This is Alkire's second year of working Camp Tumbleweeds. She monitored children's play while making crafts and other things fun, not to mention making a few small friends.

"It's really, really fun," said Olivia Smihula, 9. "It is so fun and Miss Renee is so awesome."

Olivia and a few friends were making cutout ladybugs for a large poster.

"When I'm done I will probably chase my kitty with it," Olivia said of her 9-week-old black and gray pet. "She is very sweet. She will cuddle up with you when you hold her and she'll actually fall asleep."

Until someone chases her with a cutout ladybug.

Some of the kids played with their electronic games, but others found theirs a bit wanting when there were options of playing with other kids and using their imaginations.

Samantha Francis, 8, had a Game Boy with her.

"These things cost a lot," she said. "I got it for my birthday,"

But the gift that cost a lot was soon put away in favor of a small dollhouse and a group of toy dinosaurs.

Samantha, her friends, Nevaeh Mason and Lillian Rose Olson, were playing dinosaur family and using the dollhouse, even though one dinosaur couldn't quite make it through the door of the house.

Rope-jumping, basketball, even a mini-billiard game kept kids occupied. And some just made up games.

Max Watermolen, 10, created a game called "Five-Star Hotel." He made a sign-in sheet and other kids, like pretend hotel gust Jeff Walker, 8, got their backpacks and pretended to check in.

"It's five star so when they come in they get whatever they want, like massages or something," Max said.

On Wednesdays, the kids take a field trip, often to Reno water parks and museums, and Alkire said that's the day everyone shows up.

At one point play was interrupted Monday because someone left marbles on the floor and had to pick them up. Alkire has a special signal to get the kids attention. She uses a series of hand claps in a particular rhythm.

The students are taught to listen for the claps and clap back in the same rhythm. Pretty soon, all were paying attention.

"Who left these marbles here," she asked. "They have to be picked up, all of them."

The culprits 'fessed up and went to collect the marbles.

"When we do the clapping they are supposed to listen and clap back the same rhythm," Alkire said. "It's better than yelling; that gets you nowhere."

Another halt to the festivities occurred when some kids found a lizard, and one girl picked it up and relocated it outside.

Alkire, of Dayton, has two grown daughters, said she enjoys working at the day camp.

"At least I have kids around me, so it's fun," she said.

Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or call 881-7351


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