Students enjoy learning and fun during Camp M&M

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Camp M&M Reloaded – no, that’s not the name of a teen movie sequel. That’s the recently completed spring break extravaganza between Marsh Preparatory Academy and Medrano Middle School.

The two schools got together to enjoy a four-day Metroplex excursion that took 60 students, all part of Big Thought’s Thriving Minds program, to a variety of destinations that provided a perfect combo of learning and fun. The camp included four parent volunteers as well as our own Shianne Patrick, Thriving Minds Program Manager at Marsh Preparatory Academy.

Social media was always part of the plan – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and there was journal writing and even a reading challenge. Thirty-five students finished The Red Pencil, the story of one girl’s triumphant journey inspired by true tales of life in Sudan.

Camp M&M began with a trip to The Dallas World Aquarium for an ascending glimpse at a tropical rainforest. Talk about an up close look at nature and all its living wonders. Then the kids got knighted before a castle-rocking visit to Medieval Times. Now there’s an adventure in dining.

“Our students had the time of their lives,” said Patrick, “and it’s truly a joy to expose them to everything Dallas has to offer.”

But there’s more. Day two was all about food, food and more food. The kids learned about ingredients, their procurement, and the science behind cooking them.

Perhaps the highlight of the entire camp was Young Chefs Academy in Frisco. Because, well, who doesn’t like pizza? The kids made their own pizza from scratch. They mastered dough kneading and rolling techniques, the art of topping, and the knack for making food look as good as it tastes. Of course they got to eat their creations. Yum.

Next up: Dallas Farmers Market in downtown Dallas. They toured the entire market, including the stunning Ruibal’s Nursery where they learned everything that goes into procurement at restaurants. To top it off they got a tour of the kitchen at Rex’s Fresh Seafood, a restaurant in the heart of the market.

Thriving Minds teaching artist, Chef Briston Scott, helped set up the restaurant and was instrumental in building the menu still used by the restaurant today.

Day three was packed with activities at Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Louis Tussaud’s Palace of Wax, both in Grand Prairie. There they learned cool (and odd, no doubt) trivia, facts, factoids and world records. The kids participated in a hashtag challenge dubbed #believeitornahh. At the wax museum they immediately realized that the creation of life size figures is definitely a work of art.

The day culminated at Klyde Warren Park in downtown Dallas where they blew off steam on the soccer fields, hung out with other students also on spring break, and shared their thoughts and experiences stemming from reading The Red Pencil.

And still, this travelogue has one more day. The final Camp M&M field trip took the students to The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Scientific innovation, past and future, gave the kids new realms of hands-on experience. They also dug the Dino Dig, Critter Museum, Aerodynamics and Physics areas, the Planetarium, and an engulfing 3D IMAX movie, Coral Reef Adventure.

“That screen was so big,” said Marsh eighth-grader Bryanna Gonzales. “I feel bad that we ever used flat screens.”

On that note, Camp M&M Reloaded wrapped. Shianne Patrick is anxious to preserve this camp for upcoming generations. She wants future Marsh and Medrano students to see the blueprint for a perfect spring break.

“We will be building a time capsule full of pictures, journal entries, quotes, a copy of The Red Pencil, messages from our students, schedules, and paraphernalia from everywhere we went during this camp,” she said. “We had an amazing spring break.”

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