Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Familiar Characters Welcome Kids to Camp

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Familiar Characters Welcome Kids to Camp

Article excerpt

It was, as the lead character Peg would yell on the television show "Peg + Cat," a VERY BIG PROBLEM.

A dozen or so 4- and 5-year-olds had come back from a walk to the water fountain and found dozens of plastic chickens loose all over their camp classroom.

But how many? To find out, their counselor suggested they put them in buckets in groups of 10 and then count them by twos.

And so, a math-heavy chicken harvesting frenzy broke out at the Carnegie Science Center, on the first day of one of their "Peg + Cat"-themed summer camps - one of growing number of television-themed camps in Pittsburgh and across the country this past summer.

"They are all extremely popular," said Dionne Brelsford, director of programs at Winchester Thurston, which hosts camps such as "Angelina Ballerina," "Super Why!" and "Wild Kratts." "Kids are big fans of the shows and the characters."

Winchester Thurston started its television-themed camps four years ago, in partnership with WQED. The Carnegie Science Center, which partners with the Fred Rogers Company, just finished the second year of its Odd Squad camp and the first year of "Peg + Cat." PBS stations across the country also host camps for low-income children for shows such as "Super Why!" and the locally produced "Odd Squad."

The camps might seem like an odd concept, given that some parents send their kids to camp to get them away from the television set. But the aim is to use the shows as a jumping off point for educational development.

In the case of the "Peg + Cat" camp, those goals are quite explicit. The camp was developed through a grant from the National Science Foundation that aims "to prepare preschoolers with social-emotional skills that provide a foundation for later math learning success."

At the 3-hour "Peg + Cat" camp, campers were shown a clip from the episode "The Chicken Problem" that foreshadowed the loose chickens in their classroom. …

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