Stephani Gunderson likes the looks on children's faces as they have such a good time they don't even realize they're learning. Gunderson is a program coordinator at Columbus State University and director of the Continuing Education Department's Activ8 summer camps.
The camps run June 3-August 2, and are for kids 4 and older. The program is a mixture of what has worked well in the past along with what's new and cutting edge, Gunderson said recently. For the most part, the camps are held at the Elizabeth Bradley Turner Continuing Education Center on CSU's main campus, although there are other locations for some camps.
The camps for 4 to 7 year olds are new every year because many children come back year after year, and Gunderson doesn't want them to have to repeat anything.
Camps fall into seven categories: Brain Training, Create-A-Lot, iTech, Just For U, Scienceologies, Showbiz and Sports & Dance. The ages are Activ8 Academy for those 4-7, Activ8ers, those 8 to 11 and BeTween 2 Teen for campers 11 and older.
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Although all the titles and descriptions sound interesting, one camp that stood out for the Activ8 Academy is "Scooby-Doo Mystery Camp," which the catalog describes as "acting out characters and role playing scenes from the hit children's comic detective series, 'Scooby Doo'." During the course of this week, campers will "launch their crime-busting, spook-chasing talents using their detective clue books to solve the daily mysteries." Story and movie time will be provided.
A new camp this year for the Activ8ers is titled "Young Writers," in which campers learn writing skills that will "encourage you to develop and deepen your compositions. Construct more complex sentences through the use of specific questioning and strengthen your skills in word choice, including the use of adjectives and adverbs," the catalog states.
Another popular and interesting camp for that age group is "Doll's Life-Sew for Sports" in which kids learn to sew outfits for the American Girl or 18-inch dolls, including cheerleader and soccer outfits. Another week, they can sew for themselves by learning to take proper measurements, lay out and cut a pattern and read and follow pattern directions.
In iTech, Activ8ers can also learn to build a robot that will navigate an obstacle course. They will use the LEGO Mindstorms NXT Robotic System to build it, and then tell it what to do.
For a more down-to-earth feeling, they can take "Gardening Fun," during which they plant an herb basket and grow living plants as they learn to grow and care for vegetable and flower gardens. Part of the camp includes creating a sponge-painted flower pot, your own potpourri design, a grass-head pet and original art work using recyclable materials.
There's also Space Academy, Theatre Games, Glee Club, Rock Climbing, Dancing With the Stars, Quiz Bowl, Chess Camp (beginning and advanced) Interior Design, Babysitter Boot camp, Self-Defense for Young People and many sports camps -- just to mention a few for different ages.
Gunderson and Marketing Manager Kristin Barker said many camps fill up fast so don't hesitate to register. However, if the camp you want is full, they encourage you to put your name on the waiting list. Sometimes an instructor can add more kids to a class, or an extra session can be created if there's enough interest and it's feasible.
Camps are also held at Oxbow Meadows, the CocaCola Space Science Center, the Rec Center, and the Rankin Arts Center.
In addition to educational value, the camps are designed to be fun. There are discounts for signing up early, and for signing up for the whole summer.
"The kids are so engaged, they don't even realize they're learning," Gunderson said.
The teachers have fun as well, she added.
In addition to her Activ8 duties, Gunderson is a first-grade teacher at Chattahoochee County Elementary. Not including the sports camps, just over 1,000 kids participate in the program annually.
Enjoy, be safe and learn!
Online: Visit Activ8er.com to learn more about this year's summer camp options.
Sign up: Call 706-507-8070 to register.
Details: Call 706-507-8282 for more information.