STEM is all the rage right now in schools, but that doesn’t mean that your child has to take a break from science, technology, engineering and math over the summer. Instead, take a look at Camp Galileo/Galileo Summer Quest, a fun hands-on summer camp experience that encourages kids from pre-K through 8thgrade to become learning innovators. Camp Galileo invited one of my sons and a friend to explore all that Camp Galileo Arlington Heights had to offer for a week at no cost for review purposes, and while our experience wasn’t perfect, it was a great way to get the little learners to tinker more and complain about boredom less.
THE GALILEO INNOVATION APPROACH
No matter what themed week your camper signs up for, all activities at Camp Galileo and Galileo Summer Quest are driven by the Galileo Innovation Approach. What exactly does that mean? It means that campers are seen as innovators and instruction is focused on empowering statements such as:
I am Visionary
I am Courageous
I am Collaborative
I am Determined
I am Reflective
Keeping in mind that these big words mean different things to little ones who are still using more rudimentary vocabulary, Camp Galileo sends parents emails throughout the week of camp with question prompts and terminology to use when discussing the day’s camp activities, websites to peruse with your child that are related to the projects they are tackling during the week, and other helpful resources that help STEM learning continue after camp is over.
A TYPICAL CAMP DAY
Similar to most kids, trying to get my son to tell me what happens at camp is like pulling teeth. Thankfully I knew what projects he was up to during the Maker’s Challenge week based on emails that were sent to me throughout the week. A typical camp day includes games, Art class, Science class, lunch, and outdoor play with a fun camp welcome to start the day.
Before and after care is available for families who need it, and you can also take advantage of their lunch program provided by Gourmet Gorilla if you want to cross one more thing off your to-do list. If you pack your camper’s lunch yourself, keep in mind that no foods are restricted and to remember to include a water bottle and snack in addition to lunch.
As I have mentioned, Camp Galileo does a phenomenal job communicating with you via email about what to expect from camp, what to pack and how to be prepared for each and every camp day (there are fun themed days throughout the week like “Wacky Hair Day” and “Team Spirit Day”, as well as the process campers go through when completing a project.
The big disconnect, however, was in getting any of the counselors at the Arlington Heights location to actually talk with me during either drop off or pick up. After the first day I asked the counselor how my son did, and unfortunately received a rushed and short answer. I would have liked to have had an opportunity to introduce myself to my son’s counselors and the site director before camp began or had a chance to chat with my son’s teachers throughout the week, but that type of individualized introduction was not offered.
Every Friday, parents, family, and friends of the campers are welcome to the Friday Closing where campers perform a camp song together, as well as share their Art and Science projects for the week. It was so incredibly neat to see what age appropriate STEM themed projects the kids were up to, from duck tape messenger bags to paper tissue tea lights.
My son and his friend were in the “yellow stars” group and created a wide array of innovative projects like toilet paper monsters and buildings constructed out of straws and other recyclable materials.
Immediately after coming home from the last day of camp, my son tore into our recycling bin and started adding to his creations, so it is safe to say that the Galileo Innovation Approach is something that will stick with him even though his week of camp is done. It is so wonderful to see kids spending time tinkering, creating, and imagining instead of staring at screens and I look forward to diving back into STEM projects with them once school starts up again this Fall.
MY CAMP GALILEO SUGGESTIONS
If you are looking for a summer camp that is outside of the traditional summer camp of sports, arts/crafts, and pool time, I recommend giving Camp Galileo a try. I think it is an especially great camp for older campers who already have an interest in STEM learning because they will get the most out of the camp experience. Lastly, I do recommend taking advantage of the referral program and early bird discounts to lower the cost of camp. You can learn more about discount opportunities here.