Friday, June 3, 2011
Academic Summer Camp sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? How on earth could you meld a summer camp with academics? Stick them in a classroom for the day, and then at night gather around a campfire and sing “Kumbaya”? Perish the thought—I mean, personally I like the song, but who at the middle school age actually wants to spend an entire summer day in a classroom, much less for four weeks straight?
And yet almost every R-MA Middle School student I have spoken to tells me unequivocally that they had a great time at R-MA’s Academic Summer Camp and can’t wait to return the following year. So let me share with you what they’ve told me:
1. Friendships. Whether they are day campers or overnight campers, these kids make friends with people from all over the world, and they think that’s neat. Because they are having a lot of fun with their fellow campers-- doing everything from the traditional campfires to community service activities, and for boarders, bemoaning the fact that there are room inspections—they form tight bonds that tend to last years or even a lifetime.
2. Knowledge. Oh yes, you read that right. The kids have told me they like the classes. Not all of them, of course. They aren’t too crazy about study skills, which tends to be a course parents love to sign their kids up for. But the campers love the Science Explorer and History in Action. Some of them—shh, don’t tell them I ratted them out—even liked math and the reading/writing workshop!
See, the classes are small and there are a lot of hands-on activities. They aren’t for-credit classes, they’re enrichment, which means that going off on tangents and exploring a topic in-depth when the class is interested—that’s all okay. Oh, one more thing—classes are only for three hours in the morning!
3. Fun. Campers can go home on weekends, but a lot of them choose not to, because that’s when the coolest trips happen—whitewater rafting, Busch Gardens Theme Park, International Spy Museum. Day campers are welcome to attend these trips as well!
4. Fun. No, that’s not a typo. Perhaps the neatest thing about R-MA’s Summer Academic Camp is that three of the four Wednesdays camp is in session are spent on field trips to places like the Marine Corps Museum and Arlington National Cemetery. Apparently, getting off campus is fun. Who knew?
5. Confidence. Okay, I admit the kids didn’t tell me this one. But it’s what I see. The kids who come here are often from large schools where they felt lost in the crowd. Here, they get a lot of positive adult feedback because the classes are small and there are ample opportunities for adult-camper interaction. Inevitably, it boosts their confidence level.
Interested? Find out more about the summer academic camp here.