For some people, thinking about summer fun triggers images of sitting quietly, absorbing warmth, watching the world go by, resting, and contemplating. For others, splashing by the water’s edge, swimming, and skipping stones.
For me, summer is a chance to go outside and explore the world. Swimming and barbecues are secondary pleasures.
Many of my best memories of summer as a kid come from travelling with my parents and the specialist camps I went to: a computer camp and a theatre camp. The more I talk to gifted adults, the more I realize this is not unusual. For kids who are not challenged sufficiently in school, the summer provides an opportunity to stretch and grow without the restrictions of curriculum. For me, summer gave me time and freedom to engage my brain fully rather than sitting in class waiting for the other kids to catch up.
Travel, whether it is to a nearby national park or a foreign country, provides a level of stimulation that staying at home is hard pressed to match. For people who crave new information, getting into a new environment is a gift.
A new environment plus the opportunity to pursue a passion with other kids who share that passion is an even better gift. A camp that is focused on specific interests is good for all kids, but especially for kids with unusual interests.
There were not a lot of kids in my high school who were as serious about theatre as I was. To spend 3 weeks putting on shows with other kids who shared my obsessions was heaven. And, during the rest of the year, letters from my camp friends alleviated the loneliness I felt at home.
Many of my adult friends had experiences that matched mine. The camp in question may have been band camp, art camp, theatre camp, or science and engineering camp, but the experiences of finding deep friendships and places they felt they belonged were similar.
I craved contact with other actors and directors. My kids crave contact with inventors and builders. Part of my job as a mom involves finding opportunities for them to connect with like-minded kids and summer camps focused on engineering play are an annual part of our lives.
My kids look forward to many things over the summer: no school, swimming, hiking, visiting grandparents, and camping. But nothing beats the anticipation with which they look forward to Camp Invention every year. Nothing.
Kate writes about creativity and story-telling as tools for making sense of the world at www.katearmsroberts.com.