Playing 10 to 5

A Day at Coburn Place Summer Camp

They gather in the Children’s Services Department, and Ms. Teia immediately puts them to work. “Art class is outside today, and we need to get the tables and chairs!” she says. The kids spring into action. They range in age from 6 to 12, and they are all eager pitch in, the older girls moving tables and the little ones grappling with chairs.

Children playing on playgroundAfter everything is set up, we take a short break for playground time as the art teacher gets ready for her lesson about primary colors. The kids play a game of tag they call Granny. There’s a lot of laughing and plenty of screaming. Then they put on their “art shirts” and get busy.

Ms. Jodi from the Indianapolis Art Center shows them how to make a color wheel with just primary colors. They first paint popsicle sticks red, yellow and blue. Then they mix the red and yellow, then the yellow and blue, then red and blue. Then they mix those colors together.

Children painting popsicle sticks‘My space is messiest!”
“Mine is the color of the leaves.”
“Did you know the hottest fire is blue?”
“This looks like I mixed hot sauce and ranch together.”
“The purple is failing me.”
“My hands are a mess!”

The projects are done, and they are so cute. The kids loved the lesson. It’s time to clean up, and Ms. Teia and Ms. Ruth have no shortage of helpers. Once everything is put away, they get in our little bus for lunch at Donato’s.

“Do you guys want Sierra Mist or lemonade?” Ms. Teia asks. There is a lot of discussion about what Sierra Mist is, and they decide on that. “I wish I could have a root beer float,” says one little one. Ms. Teia tells them to just take little sips until the pizza is ready. “I’m going to take the littlest sip in the world,” one says, followed by fake hiccups. Giggling ensues.

Kids bowlingWe wait for the pizza.

“I haven’t eaten in 200 years.”
“If you throw your cup in the air then all the ice will fall on the floor then you will fall then the ambulance will come!”
“When I was 4, I learned to snap my fingers.”
“You have to stay away from coconut trees because the coconuts will fall on your head.”
“Raise your hand if you can smell if it’s going to rain.”

The pizza is a hit.

“Holy guacamole I could eat this all day!”
“Hey Ms Teia, can we come here every day for lunch?”
“I’m telling my mom about this place.”
“I’m going to eat five pieces. I’m a pizza lover. This is way over my record.”
“I was done before all of you all.”
“I’m done already and I’m not even full.”

Girl playing video gameSomeone asks if they can bring their drinks on the bus, and the answer is no. A boy chimes in with some wisdom: “If you spill a drink on the bus, it will break and we’ll all be busted for two hours because the tow trucks come from Ohio.”

They are back on the bus and heading to the bowling alley. “I want to be a ballerina, but I have to wait until after karate.”

We flood into the Royal Pin Woodland Bowl, where we meet Ms. Toni. Getting them all into shoes that fit – with socks – is nothing short of a miracle. The kids can barely contain their excitement.

“I’m definitely getting 100 points today!”
“I believe in you. I know you can do it!”
“I’m so happy. I’m in the lead of everybody!”
“I’m really good. You know why I’m so good? It’s because I look at the pins and aim where I want to go and roll.”
“Roll your heart out!”
“It’s not about the points you have, it’s about the fun you have. Be happy and just have fun.”
“Oh that was so good!”
“Did you see that guy? He got them all again! And it makes a loud noise! ‘Sir, you’re really good at bowling!’”

Kid picking prizes at arcade“If I win, I’ll give you each $100.” Ms. Toni asks where he’s going to get money. He says, “Hey I was going to make my money for the summer.” He’s 6.

We turn in our shoes and move on to the arcade. Ms. Ruth stands by her post at the exit scanning the crowd like a bouncer. “No one is taking any of my kids,” she says.

The kids had a winning strategy, and the group ends winning 1,100 tickets. Ms. Teia deftly manages prize selection with the kids. Everyone has a bag to take home. It’s back on the bus to Coburn Place for music class. We have a few minutes before class starts, and Ms. Ruth asks who wants to vacuum. Every hand goes up.

The volunteer music teacher arrives. “It’s so good to see your faces!” Ms. Laura says. “You can’t see our whole faces,” one boy points out. There are eggs, singing, sticks, drums and scarves to dance with. “When we click the sticks together it hurt my ears,” says one girl. “It’s because she has earrings,” says her little sister.

Kids shaking eggs in music class“Who invented rhythm sticks?”
“There’s rubber on the top so it makes a really good beat sound.”
“I love this.”
“I led the whole entire group!”
“I want to be on TV. I want everyone with eyes to see my face, but not the haters.”

We end by singing a song about everything the kids are grateful for. Here’s their list:

“My mother.”
“My life.”
“Our brothers and sisters.”
“The earth.”

Teia reading book to kids

We wind down with books as the moms arrive to pick up their happy children. And Ms. Teia and Ms. Ruth will do it all again tomorrow.

To donate directly to the Coburn Place Children’s Services program, visit