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CCU Atheneum: This little guy is learning about bugs at the Kidz Summer Camp.
This little guy is learning about bugs at the Kidz Summer Camp.

CCU's summer camps run the gamut

by Russell Alston
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Spy Academy, Superhero Academy, Guts, Goop, Globs and Gas and Ooey Gooey Sticky Icky Craft Camp — these are just four of the more than 50 summer camps being offered by Coastal Carolina University’s Division of Academic Outreach into early August.

The plethora of summer camps, held at the Myrtle Beach and Conway campuses, are ran by CCU faculty, certified teachers, staff and students, tasked with keeping kids entertained and their minds occupied, all while engaging and educating them.

Kelli Barker, director of operations for CCU’s Myrtle Beach Education Center, has been going to summer camp for 13 years, half of which has been spent with children ages 6 through 12 at the Coastal Carolina Kids Camp.

Held June 10-Aug. 9 at the CCU Myrtle Beach Education Center, the kids camps offers more than 30 activities in a number of disciplines. For the budding artist there is Draw, Doodle and Design. If singing and dancing is your child’s forte, Motion, Move and Maneuver or Can’t Stop the Hip-Hop may be the perfect outlet. The weeklong events are capped off with a public showcase for friends and family on Fridays. All camps, while fun, possess educational components.

Barker is responsible for putting the programs together; then it’s up to the instructors to create the day-to-day activities. Those responsibilities fall on the shoulders on a handful of CCU faculty members, certified teachers and other professionals from Horry and Georgetown counties.

Eric Hall, an associate professor of theatre at CCU and magician, will introduce kids to the “science of magic” at Camp Illusion. From July 8-12, Hall will assist children in building their self-esteem and developing communication skills, while learning “close–up magic tricks, stage magic and showmanship skills.”

The Chant Children’s Choir will benefit from the expertise of CCU Associate Professor of Music Patti Edwards. From July 29 to Aug. 2, attendees will learn new tunes and develop skills, such as properly using their voices and joining others in rhythm and harmony, which will be showcased in a final performance.

From July 15-19, Associate Professor of Science Education Austin Hitt will showcase the fun side of science with Physics on the Move. He will teach how the basic laws of physics apply to fun and exciting activities, such as amusement park rides.

Two options are available to parents: half-day camps (8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.) and all-day camps (8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). The all-day camps allow more one-on-one time with kids and rehearsals for their respective showcases at the end of the week.

“Summer is a long time, so when the chance for education and fun comes along, parents should take it,” says Barker.

Christie Karavan, a dance instructor, holds down the musical theatre camps for 6-12-year-olds. The all-day camp is split between acting out scenes in the morning (with a healthy amount of ad-libbing) and ends with a dance lesson in a studio complete with padded floors and wall-to-wall mirrors that stretch from the floor to the ceiling.

Candy Chemistry Camp, though, is the obvious favorite. What’s not to love about getting the opportunity to mix and match ingredients and flavors, using principles of chemistry as a guideline?

“When we first offered it, the camp filled to 20 people quickly, so we offered another,” says Barker. “That one filled up just as fast, so it’s pretty much a no brainer that it will be offered again.”

But it’s not about providing already hyped up little ones with a sugar rush. Kids learn about nutritional value, natural sugars, processed sugars and the benefits of exercise after eating candy.

Louis Rubbo, assistant professor of chemistry and physics, and a team of faculty and students worked with budding scientist and engineers at RoboCamp, held June 17 through 28 at the Coastal Science Center. Rising sixth- through eighth-graders from various Grand Strand schools designed robotic creations using LEGO Mindstorm Education NXT base sets.

Working from a curriculum created by the Robotics Academy at Carnegie Mellon University, the kids tackled Deep Space Terraforming. Terraforming (or planetary engineering) involves transforming an uninhabitable area, such as a planet, into a location with an ecosystem similar to Earth’s. Transforming the atmosphere, temperature, topography and ecology produces the necessary changes.

Four girls an 32 boys between the ages of 10-13 spent three hours a day for two weeks crafting and programming the “brains” of their creations to complete various mission challenges.

Rubbo says the camp’s goal is two-fold; “We want to inspire these kids to participate in science and for them to see that it’s more than just plugging in information. Also, we want to encourage students to think like a scientist by documenting problems and creating solutions.”

He attributes a robust nature and familiarity as the reason LEGOS were chosen as the basis for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) themed camp.

“We want to inspire STEM participation in middle school kids,” he says. “The learning while playing model is the perfect method to teach scientific reasoning and engineering skills.”

Last year’s inaugural camp was funded in part by CCU’s College of Science and the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium. This year, the entire camp was funded through registration fees, and of six CCU students donated their time to act as “go-betweens” with the kids and the professors.

“CCU students majoring in middle level education students took part in this year’s camp,” says Rubbo, “giving them an excellent opportunity to be put into a mentor role.”

Rubbo and Barker are considering combining the RoboCamp with the Summer Kids Camp next year. The advantage of this merger is that siblings, separated by a larger age gap, can attend different camps at the same facility, at the same time.

Older kids get a taste of university life at the Summer Arts Academy. Held on the CCU campus June 8 through 28, the summer program housed students (grade 7 through 11) in campus dorms. They had the options of choosing between the Music Academy, the Performing Arts Academy or the Visual Arts Academy. These were further broken down into specific disciplines. For example, a teen who participated in the music academy opted between the string orchestra, choir or band programs of study. Private one-on-one lessons were also available.

“Teens come from out of state to attend these camps,” says Barker. “Sort of like an extended visiting trip to see if they would enjoy the campus should they choose to enroll.”

One of Barker’s best memories is of a high school freshman from Brunswick County named Sarah.

“She came here as a freshman and attended every summer until her senior year,” she says. “She then enrolled at CCU and earned a bachelor’s in music. I heard from her recently and learned she went on to earn a master’s in music.”

During June 8 through 14, CCU’s summer music academy hosted its largest class with more than 230 attendees, according to Barker.

With all that is still being offered through August, there is no good excuse for local children to loiter at home for the rest of the summer. Certainly not when CCU has made available a slew of summer camps with activities designed to occupy and engage, educate and inform. Barker says, “Parents enjoy sending their children to a safe place, the kids are happy to come, and professors actually volunteer to be a part of these camps. It truly is a win-win situation.”


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