The euphoria of camp wears off quickly, but fortunately, almost magically (perhaps for the rest of our lives), anytime we wish we can close our eyes and instantly our minds flash through the images and sounds that make up our memories of camp. We smile, and for a moment, the euphoria returns.
Our first Science Camp was held this summer on the Big Island of Hawaii and was very successful (more on that later). Here are some numbers from camp:
We had two great groups of good, smart, friendly kids which really made it possible for everyone, campers and staff, to have a great time and to achieve what we set out to do.
Of course, calling something a success doesn’t make it so. You have to have criteria for the claim. Here is ours:
- No one was lost or seriously hurt (seems basic, but you have to pay attention!)
- Everyone was housed and fed (it was surprising how important this became!)
- Campers had fun and bonded closely with each other (per surveys and interviews)
- Everyone learned a lot of science (without homework or classes!)
- Met or exceeded our science programming goals
Most importantly, we proved that an overnight camp can be a fantastic environment for teens to learn science in a hands-on, experiential way. One of the reasons I feel confident declaring camp a success is that at the end of each session, no one wanted to leave! The last day was very emotional: many tears, hugs, and sad good-byes. At once, everyone was suddenly realizing what a fantastic experience it had been and that, sadly, it was ending.
I want to thank a number of people for their help in making Science Camp a success: our staff, Patty Halpin, science teacher and Toni Difante, counselor for their hard work, patience and for creating a fun, open and comfortable camp environment; Julia Neal, Pahala Plantation Cottages, for taking such good care of us every day; The Edmund C. Olson Trust and Mrs. Zora Charles for the scholarships they provided; the many Big Island organizations and individuals that allowed us to visit; members of the Science Camps of America Board of Directors and Board of Advisors for their help and guidance in making camp a reality. Special thanks are added for my wife Sheri, who was officially the camp nurse, but unofficially just about everything else, and without whom, this camp would not have been possible.