Monday, July 11, 2016

It's sad sometimes when good things come to an end. We are saying goodbye this year to Smarty's favorite camp - Camp Galileo.
A summer camp for STEM kids
We heard good things about Camp Galileo when Smarty was in younger grades, but her first year in this STEM summer camp was when she was entering the third grade. That year she only went for one week and loved it so much that she begged to go for more time next year. This camp usually rotates 4 different themes during summer and it is only open during June and July, so we had to work to fit it with the rest of our summer plans. Smarty went for 2 weeks last year and for 2 weeks again this year.

National Parks Week

I love that Camp Galileo is serious about keeping their week activities to a certain theme, Smarty's first week this year was National Parks to celebrate 100th anniversary of National Park system. Every day of camp is divided into three parts - science, art, and outdoor activities. In science, over 5 days students built backpacks with PVC frames. Nobody was quite fully finished with theirs on Friday, but the kids were allowed to take their backpacks and necessary materials home to finish them later (yeah, right, that famous word, "later"). In art, they were creating a complex multi-layer diorama of Yosemite Half Dome. Smarty enjoyed art more than science that week, because building backpacks was hard, and she was frustrated when she did not follow instructions properly and ended up with an opening towards her back. But I think that she learned a valuable lesson on slowing down and thinking through her work - something that this camp is specifically trying to teach. 

Toy Makers' Week

Second week of Camp Galileo was a short Toy Makers' Week offered only once this summer during Independence Day week. Smarty had a blast making a stop-motion animation movie in art and a pretty involved pinball machine (see the lead image) in science. She certainly loved her team counselor Rosa - she had her last year as well, and was delighted to see that this year she could join her Red Giant team - a big team of returning senior campers entering their last year of Camp Galileo. Smarty was selected to give a closing speech, and she was very proud of this honor given to only one camper every week. She did a good job on the speech even though she took her father's advice to speak slowly a little too far. Her pinball machine turned out great, and it's the first project ever she had actually fully completed in science, so it must have been very well thought out by curriculum designers or... her best friend, who is much more handy than Smarty, helped her out.

Is Galileo Camp a Good Fit for Everyone?

Smarty's best friend joined her for one week last year and this year. He is a profoundly gifted child who has excellent spatial skills and can do anything with his hads. You would think that he would enjoy the camp, but... he thinks the program is too structured with not enough choices that can be made by the campers. He has his own favorite camp, Steve & Kate, where kids spend all their day in the activities of their own choice. Smarty will try his camp in August as part of the "camp exchange" deal our kids worked out before summer, so they could spend two weeks in the camp together. However, Smarty enjoyed every minute of Camp Galileo - its rules, its outdoor games, its focus on teamwork and creativity, and its projects. She is sad to be aging out of Camp Galileo, but is already lobbying to take Chefology and Games Design next year with Galileo Summer Quest.

Your Turn

Are your kids attending summer camps this summer? What kind?

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JL said...

We are friends with the owners of Steve and Kate and I love their philosophy. Their camp is perfect for self-directed kids. They offer a great deal of freedom.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

How wonderful that Smarty continues to love this camp! I wonder if my kids would prefer Galileo or Steve and Kate?

Ticia said...

Those sound like fun themes for next year. I Look forward to hearing about Steve and Kate.