For most adults the words, day camp, conjures up many memories of crafts, kickball, and fun in the sun. However, for today’s youth, day camp has a whole different meaning: learning to speak a foreign language, robotics, cooking or baking classes, entomology and nature exploring. Day camps have also changed their audiences to older youth and have moved out of churches and parks into colleges, museums, science centers and environmental education centers.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County has been offering its day camp program, Summer Scientist Series, at the Amboy 4-H Environmental Education Center for that past four years. Summer Scientist Series is a collection of at least six different science programs for youth to participate in. Each two hour long day camp is filled with exploration, observation and hands on demonstrations in science. For example, in the Become the Baker Program, day campers conduct an experiment on the activation temperature of yeast before they learn how to bake whole wheat bread.
There are numerous measurable outcomes in a science based day camp program. Youth participating in previous Summer Scientist Series have worked in a group setting to accomplish a task, and practice workforce skills such as reasoning, goal setting, problem solving, critical thinking and communication. And they had lots of fun. Parents of previous program participants praised the Summer Scientist Series for providing such a wonderful learning experience. Previous program participant evaluation sheets from the Robots and You Day Camp contained statements such as “Had a blast. Best summer program I attended. Finally a summer camp that suits me”.
In 2011 the Summer Scientist Series at the Amboy 4-H Environmental Center includes Wild About Wildlife, Animal Detectives, Become a Baker, Robots and You, Dog World, and Quilt Quest: Bug Jar. More detailed information on the Summer Scientist Series can be found at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oswego County’s website, www.thatscooperativeextension.org. Many county 4-H programs provide day camp opportunities; contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office to see what science program they are offering.