ESA summer camps turn students into disease sleuths and fairies
Over the past several months, students have hiked, pitched tents, wrote their own books, programmed robots, played soccer and more at summer camps on the Episcopal School campuses. ‘Acadiana.
“These camps give students a way to explore topics that they were interested in or not interested in and the opportunity to try them out without a long-term commitment,” Christine Hidalgo said. “It gives them diversity in their educational and playful experience.”
During the school year, Hidalgo teaches science to ESA middle and high school students, but over the summer she oversees camps as a principal and leads a few of her own.
Her children became “disease sleuths” as they cleaned the campus for bacteria, monitored growth in petri dishes, and created models of viruses invading cells.
“We have tried to seek out the interests of the students that they cannot necessarily tap into during the school year and align them with the passions of the teachers,” she said.
During the not-so-crude anatomy camp, they dissected pig hearts, cow eyeballs, worms, and even a fungus that one of the students found.
“It wasn’t on the plane, but of course we dissected it,” Hidalgo said. “We have to explore this curiosity that they have innately.”
There were weekly camp opportunities for students as young as 3 through seventh grade, and teachers were tasked with presenting a range of topics in a developmentally appropriate manner. Kindergarten children explored coding, computer programming, and robotics, all while being princesses and fairies.
They could combine their interests in the same day or the same week, as the morning and afternoon sessions were different. For example, campers could go from All Sports camp to disease sleuths, or they could stick to half a day of climbing and kayaking in the Adventure program if that was better for their schedule.
“This flexibility helps families keep children involved and engaged without being overwhelming,” Hidalgo said. “And it’s a great alignment of passion and play.”
Other options this summer included American Girl Camp, where students brought their dolls with them; the World Splash writing camp; and STEAM Storybook which incorporated visual and literary art into STEM. The kids built arts and crafts projects based on the stories they read on topics like astrobiology, the study of life in the universe.
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Students and staff learned to adapt during the camp, pitching tents in the gymnasium because of the rain.
There was also photography, cooking, sewing, origami, Lego challenges, clay molding, and math. All camps except one were taught by ESA teachers. A former student came to teach computer programming, something he’s currently studying at Louisiana State University.
“We find that the kids come to us earlier with a certain sense of technology,” Hidalgo said. “Whether it’s coding, science, or princesses, it’s really about finding comfort in their space.”
The camp experience was also a way to help children make the transition to the classroom this fall, whether they are starting for the first time or returning for another school year affected by the pandemic. COVID-19.
“It took away some anxiety with the different protocols that will be in place,” the teacher said. “With the younger ones, it helped them learn to communicate and defend themselves. With the older ones, they had to face challenges and pursue a project for longer than they could have done in a classroom. “
ESA’s summer programs have ended to allow faculty and staff to prepare for the first day of the fall semester on August 11.