The Alternative Classroom Experience is a cooperative venture with the Little Rock School District, Pulaski County Special School District, and the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District. Students in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades who are not doing as well in school or at home as they should be are eligible to participate in the program.
Students are recommended through their teachers, counselors, or principals in their regular school. Parents may also refer their children to the program. A major component of the ACE program are the mandatory weekly parent meetings.
ACE provides a unique adventure to make a difference in the life of elementary students. ACE students live at camp from Sunday afternoon to until Friday afternoon each week for five weeks. They live in cabins with 9 other students and two AmeriCorps counselors.
Students attend class at the camp in a one-room classroom with two certified teachers and several AmeriCorps counselors who test, teach, guide, discipline, and support these students in learning. Students start at their present capable level and work toward attaining their current grade level or beyond if they are already working at grade level. We operate with the idea of Insisted Success where students must complete their classwork with accuracy.
But as hard as they have to work, camp is also a lot of fun. Camping outdoors is exciting, and most campers participate once weekly, weather permitting. Campers learn responsibility by packing their gear (tent, sleeping bag, food, etc.), setting up their camp site, building a camp fire, cooking their meal, and leaving the campsite as it was when they came. Other activities include teambuilding, arts and crafts, games, sports, and bicycling. The cabin groups function like families to develop team work, cooperation, trust, and ecological stewardship.
After the last week of ACE, students return to their regular classrooms. Staff and AmeriCorps counselors visit daily during that transition week and periodically afterward for approximately three years. Students who perform well during their transition week are invited to graduate from ACE and are awarded a diploma, a camp medal, and an invitation to one week of summer camp.
ACE is the often the first step in a long relationship with Pfeifer Camp. We encourage youth to continue to participate in the summer program, to come to another session of ACE if eligible, to become Counselors-In-Training (CITs) when they are old enough, and to become staff or AmeriCorps members one day. Some of our first ACE campers now send their children to camp.
Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp