Plugged In

Summer camps are a yearlong effort

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Posted by
Rachel Wong

Get Set to Be a Vet Camp

Get Set to Be a Vet Camp

Get Set to Be a Vet Camp

Get Set to Be a Vet Camp

LEGO Castle Camp

LEGO Castle Camp

Mystery Camp

Mystery Camp

Practical Potions Camp

Practical Potions Camp

SciGirls Camp

SciGirls Camp

SciGirls Camp

SciGirls Camp

SciGirls Camp

SciGirls Camp

SpyMasters Camp

SpyMasters Camp

Wizard School

Wizard Camp

Each year, the Science Museum hosts nearly 200 summer camps for kids ages 3 to 16 - and that’s no easy feat! A lot goes into making camps a success.

For the 2018 season, we have over 3,200 kids enrolled in 193 Science Museum summer camps. That is 68 more camps than in 2015! Not only is the museum always buzzing with activity, our four off-site locations at Saint Catherine University, University of Minnesota, Metropolitan State University, and The Blake School in Wayzata are also filled with excited campers.

Out of 193 summer camps, 44 camp titles will run more than once this summer. The most popular summer camps at the Science Museum this season are Wizard School and Wonka Week. In Wizard School, kids get sorted into houses and earn a magic wand. They learn to create illusions that look like magic, but with science. At Wonka Week, campers knead, mix, and pour ingredients together to make their own confections. Our summer camps are designed with creativity in mind and are not intended to imitate school, and kids are encouraged to learn through innovation and discovery - and to get messy!

In order to make Science Museum summer camps accessible to families, the museum provides scholarships. In 2018, more than $21,000 in scholarship funds were distributed to 98 campers.

Memorable Moments
Summer camps are not only fun for the campers, they are also a rewarding experience for staff members. Gretchen Henke, a Lifelong Learning Instructor, looks forward to summer camps each year and loves that she can build relationships with the campers, especially when families send their kids back to the museum each year. Her favorite moments are when she hears shouts of “I figured it out!” and sees kids succeed on their own. Seeing kids being kind and compassionate also warms Henke’s heart. Anika Duckwall, a program counselor, echoes Henke’s thoughts by citing the kindness of campers as her favorite part of summer camps. Some kids who finish an activity early reach out to help others without being prompted.

Nick Knighton and Collette Sarver, both Program Team Leads, love listening to campers’ conversations and seeing their ingenuity and perspective. Knighton recalls a time when he and a camper rolled around in the grass pretending to be grasshoppers and sharing grasshopper facts. Sarver notes the quirkiness in kids’ conversations and the things staff would overhear occasionally, including “Keep all your coconuts in one place!” Knighton even keeps a quote book of campers’ random phrases. He shares a joke that a camper told him: “Who would be the worst at playing four square? Babies, because they can’t stand up!”

All Hands On Deck
Summer camps would not run smoothly without the efforts of instructors and staff members in many different departments. This summer, more than 106 staff members devoted time and talent to ensure summer camp success. When Zeta Kilbride, who manages the summer camp program, is not running summer camps, she’s planning them. “I often get asked what I do for the rest of the year, when camp isn’t in session,” she says. “My answer? It takes the entire rest of the year to plan and put all of the pieces together to make summer camps happen.”

Henke mentions that summer camp planning actually begins seven to eight months prior to summer—around September and October. Lifelong Learning staff decide on the camp titles for the following summer, and then split into teams to plan. Henke also mentions that camp curriculum gets revised each year through trial-and-error. The coordination needed to make summer camps a reality require team effort. She consistently emphasizes the collaboration that goes into making summer camps a success, “It takes all hands on deck.”

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