Fitz Camp camper Davyd Vovchuk, 5, fills his stuffed animal with “love” and “kindness” hearts during the Bear Factory project at Mound Park Elementary School July 26.

Fitz Camp camper Davyd Vovchuk, 5, fills his stuffed animal with “love” and “kindness” hearts during the Bear Factory project at Mound Park Elementary School July 26.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Bears, beaches and more at Fitz Camp

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published August 2, 2019

 Six-year-old Evelina Barabakh plays with her Bear Factory unicorn July 26 at Mound Park Elementary School in Warren.

Six-year-old Evelina Barabakh plays with her Bear Factory unicorn July 26 at Mound Park Elementary School in Warren.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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WARREN — On the morning of July 26, several students in the Fitz Camp summer program at Mound Park Elementary School had a lot to “bear.”

They packed stuffing into toy bears, unicorns, puppies, giraffes and penguins during an activity with The Bear Factory. As they worked, every so often a student walked over to day camp Director Rachel Belkowski, gave her a hug and showed her their project. Fitz Camp is in the Fitzgerald Public Schools district.

The Bear Factory, in Wixom, is a family-owned-and-operated company that has a selection of Bears & Buddies stuffed animals detailed with accessories, clothing and hearts that read “kindness,” “courage,” “best friends” and “love.” Each stuffed animal has a birth certificate and a decorative storage box, and owners stuff them and make them their own. The Fitz Camp students were able to take their new stuffed animals home with them.

The Bear Factory project is one of many activities the Fitz Camp students have enjoyed this summer since camp began June 17. Fitz Camp is for children ages 5-12. It’s open to students in all districts and meets 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays until Aug. 16.

Fitz Camp provides the opportunity for the development and growth of each child physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually. A number of enrichment activities are offered, with the goal of creating a home/school partnership where parents and educators work together to support the child.

“It’s really fun here,” fifth grader Mia Whitaker said. “I love Miss Rachel. She’s really nice, and our counselors.”

“The counselors let us have buddies,” third grader Isabella Carter said.

There are a total of nine full- and part-time staff members. There are 75 students registered, with an average of 65 students in session each day.

“I enjoy watching the children getting new experiences,” Belkowski said. “I would say the favorite thing is they love the (annual) Birthday Bash.” That’s when all campers and counselors gather to celebrate everyone’s birthdays with a disc jockey, face painting and more.

While much of their time is spent at the Mound Park school building painting, playing rainbow tag, making flower pots and more, the students also trek to several field trips throughout the summer.

One regular haunt is the beach at Thelma Spencer Park in Rochester Hills. The students also have gone cherry picking at Westview Orchards in Romeo, to the Troy Aquatic Center in Troy, to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Michigan in Auburn Hills, to Allegiant Nonstop Entertainment in Warren and many more spots.

Third grade student Charleigh Jasper’s favorite field trip was to Skyzone Trampoline Park in Shelby Township. Jasper likes attending Fitz Camp because “we learn things. We get to meet new friends.”

“I like when we go on field trips,” second grader Victoria Vladyka said. “We have fun. We play games and just other fun stuff.”

Fifth grader Jakoby Barbour, fourth grader Taj Wallace and third grader Jaxson Thomas always hang out together at Fitz Camp.

“We like the same things,” Wallace said.

“The counselors make it fun here. We have fun at the beach,” Barbour said. “We go to the concession stand.”

“And get super pops,” Thomas said.

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