Antietam Recreation tops list of year-end highlights

June 30, 2006|by LISA PREJEAN

At the end of each school year, I ask my students for feedback. On the front of a sheet of notebook paper, they write about the things they enjoyed. On the back, they write about things they wish they could have changed.

I warn them ahead of time that some things are out of my control. All-day recess is not an option.

Yet there are suggestions that can promote change, and I like to teach children that being able to influence others and facilitate change is a good thing.

It's always an enlightening process as I read through the comments. There are the typical ones about having too much homework, too much writing, too many math problems, etc.

I weigh that in the balance of practice makes perfect ... so we need to practice.

However, some requests for less work are valid.

Last year, a student asked for more projects and less book reports. So this year I assigned one fewer book report and asked my students to compile a leaf collection when we were studying plants and to build a roller coaster when we were studying the basics of physics.


Several students mentioned that these two projects were highlights of the year for them. They said they especially enjoyed building the roller coasters with their dads. In some families, everyone helped the students formulate their coaster ideas - Mom, Dad, younger siblings, older siblings. I thought that was wonderful. Anytime a teacher can help a family create together, that's an accomplishment.

When it comes to activities outside of the classroom, my students overwhelmingly wrote about how much they enjoyed the elementary picnic our school has each year at Antietam Recreation, a camp that is two miles south of Hagerstown on Garis Shop Road.

Each spring, the camp hosts school groups for daylong outdoor experiences that include swimming, canoeing, horseback riding, adventure activities, a boat slide, cable ride and petting zoo. At lunchtime, members of the camp staff present a Wild West show. This year about 40 schools came to the camp during the month of May, says Mary Rotz, who owns the camp with her husband, Bob Rotz.

It is enjoyable for teachers to see students hurrying from one event to another so they can have the total camp experience. My students seemed to particularly enjoy seeing their teacher get soaking wet on the boat slide. I figured they were entitled to it after doing all those assignments I gave them over the course of the year.

The camp allows students who might not excel in the classroom an outlet where they can perform well, Mary Rotz says.

"Teachers can see the kids in a different light," she says.

In the summer, children come for day-camp weeks. Families can visit the camp on Saturday nights through Aug. 26 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. for a Wild West dinner show. The price is $24 for adults, $22 for senior citizens and $18 for children ages 3 to 12. The cost includes a dinner buffet, camp activities - swimming, boating, cable ride, boat slide - the Wild West Show and a show by champion roper Andy Rotz, the son of Mary and Bob and one of five Rotz children in the show. There is no show on July 1.

This is the third year for the Wild West Show, and the stunts performed by the Rotz brothers and others are truly thrilling, particularly for children.

"There are not many places you can go (for a show) where the horses are galloping and people are jumping on and off horses," Mary Rotz says.

In November and December, the camp also presents a Christmas show with a hayride, marshmallow roast, live Nativity and a Western photo opportunity.

For more information about Antietam Recreation, visit or call 301-797-7999 or 301-797-3733.

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