By Jon King/

A local school district is hoping to create a summer program for students that will both give them a camp experience while also keeping their academic skills sharp.

The Howell Public Schools Board of Education recently gave the go ahead to continue planning efforts for Camp Highlander, which would mix academic and literacy skills with engaging activities and adventures. District officials say the goals of the camp are to help address the loss of academic skills over the summer months and develop skills such as leadership, self-confidence, healthy relationships, and creativity. The district plans to make the camp accessible for all students by making it low-cost, as well as offering scholarships and using bi-lingual materials. The academic skills part of the camp will be rooted in the Scholastic LitCamp Curriculum which takes a whole student approach to literacy/academic skills.

However, Superintendent Erin MacGregor told the board at their February 10th meeting, Camp Highlander should not in any way be confused with summer school. "I am a firm believer that every kid should have a camp experience and I think there's a lot of kids in our district that don't have a camp experience. So if we can provide that to the school district, I think its a huge leg up for our kids."

The engaging activities part of Camp Highlander will include day trips to various locations including destinations such as The Howell Nature Center, Greenfield Village and Sea Life Aquarium. District Spokesman Tom Gould says a team is working on finalizing what the cost to the district and participants would be, as well as where the camp would be held. He says they plan to start small with Camp Highlander and grow it over time. In the first year, two two-week sessions would be offered with a total enrollment of approximately 150 students. The district is hopeful that it will be able to secure grants and community support to offset the costs of Camp Highlander.