Fun and frolic is not what summer camps are all about today. The camps that offer a host of activities under one umbrella are fast growing into centres of learning with undercurrents of scholastic improvement.
Today summer has become the ideal season for kids to both pick up fundamentals and enhance existing knowledge of science, mathematics and English. The result is multi-activity camps offering Vedic maths, astronomy and quiz preparation techniques along with arts, crafts and games.
Though not purely academic, activities like robotics and science demos that the Anna Science Centre-Planetarium offers in its annual summer camp are scholastic in nature. “Though what we teach students is not based on the curriculum, it is still supportive education,” says Palanisamy, technical assistant.
The emphasis is on learning in an unconventional setting that is starkly variant from a regular classroom with half-hour sessions, do-it-yourself activities and no uniforms.
“While students learn principles and laws of science in a classroom, the camp demystifies these principles through activities and helps them discover how they evolved,” adds Mr. Palanisamy, observing that parents enrol kids in these camps hoping to trigger interest in science and maths.
Camps are keen in engaging children in cerebral activities in a fun way as parents are anxious that these activities give the child an edge over peers in what is perceived as a competitive world. “How is my child performing?,' is not unheard of even in summer camps, says Nalini Aravindan, co-ordinator of the summer camp at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Quiz preparation, vocabulary building and science never fail to find a place.
“Though parents may insist on ensuring children can face competition, we focus on other important attributes like basic etiquette, encouraging creativity, cultivating social awareness and becoming a better person,” says Ms. Nalini.
Along with palindromes and oxymorons, kids learn how to handle emergencies and help with directions.
Multi-activity camps can keep children better engaged than those that revolve around a single activity, says Mr.Palanisamy noting that only 20 per cent of children may exhibit keen interest while others go in to holiday mood.
It is essential that a new activity is introduced every half an hour to keep children tuned in, says Sivakumar of Trichy Plus.
Their annual camp tried to get children interested in quantum physics but soon switched to vocabulary building through Pictionary and spoken Hindi through songs and videos which generated better response.
“Children are clearly not into thinking hard in the holidays, though they eagerly participate in activities.” With parents focussed on future, career guidance, goal setting and time management are seamlessly integrated.
Summer camps also see normally reticent children shed their inhibitions, take initiative, and interact with peers.
Keywords: summer camps