If you want your kids to do something fun yet educational this summer, consider Steve & Kate’s Camp, which has 40 locations around the country. Each camp has 5 creative studios:
- A coding studio where kids use robotics and custom-built apps to learn about electrical circuits.
- A music studio where kids learn how to create and record music and spin records like a DJ.
- A film studio where kids learn filmmaking techniques, in addition to editing videos.
- A fashion studio where kids learn to sew by hand or machine to create shirts, hats, dresses, or whatever they can imagine.
- A bread making studio where kids learn how to mix, knead, rise, add spices, and bake.
But, there’s something else that sets Steve and Kate’s Camp apart from other camps. Mike Saperstine, a partner at Steve & Kate’s Camp, says, “When we ask campers what they like most about the camp, the answer, overwhelmingly, is that they like Steve & Kate’s because they feel free.” While the activities have changed over the course of 38 years, Saperstein says campers continue to love the level of freedom and flexibility offered by the camp.
“The fundamental value of trusting kids to choose for themselves is the single most important part of our camp.” Saperstein says kids tell them that they like having the freedom to make their own choices. “It’s been our observation over 37 years that what is learned through kids experimenting at their own pace while having access to learning tools is profoundly different than going through a lesson plan.”
This type of setting provides a different type of experience. “Children are more invested, more creative, and learn intangible things, like to trust themselves and gain confidence in their ability to figure things out.”
And parents also love the flexibility of Steve & Kate’s compared to traditional camps. “They love the fact that they can buy any number of day passes, use them anytime, and get full automatic refunds for any leftover passes at the end of summer,” Saperstine explains. As a result, kids can be enrolled for a day, a week, a month, or whatever fits the family’s schedule.
This year, Circuit Cubes joins the camp. Nate MacDonald is the president and CEO of Circuit Cubes. He tells HER Magazine, “Circuit Cubes are electronic building blocks that teach kids the basics of circuitry while they are engaged in creative STEM play.” The cubes can be used in a variety of applications. “Kids learn how to complete circuits to light an LED, power a geared motor, and how serial and parallel circuits create different effects in their projects.” Since Circuit Cubes can be integrated with LEGOs, the possibilities are endless.
MacDonald was drawn to Steve & Kate’s because the kids are allowed to explore and be creative. “Kids are completely in charge of what they create while playing with Circuit Cubes, which contributes to the camp’s environment of encouraging the natural ways that kids learn.”
Currently, the kids can use the parts and materials to build four projects:
- The Scribblebot plays with chance and physics to help kids make cool art pieces. They learn to control the bot as they use it, gradually understanding its mechanics while they have fun.
- The hand-cranked flashlight is a sneaky fun way to teach how electricity actually works, as the LED will only turn on when kids spin the wheel in a certain direction; it doesn’t work in both directions. We’ve found that kids will experiment with the different directions to figure out which is the correct way to make their flashlight turn on.
- Our DIY race car project uses all three Cubes (Motor, Battery, and LED) to create a base vehicle chassis that can be modified as the young maker wants depending on his or her imagination that day.
- The gobo spotlight uses an LED Cube and Battery Cube to shine a light through images that kids draw or stencil on themselves. The light can be projected onto a wall — just like when Batman’s ready to save Gotham City!
Macdonald says that Circuit Cubes are ideally for kids between the ages of 5-12, but he’s discovered that regardless of age, everyone seems to enjoy tinkering with them.
The camps are thoughtfully designed for maximum effectiveness. “When choosing activities, we aim to have a balance of indoor, outdoor, mellow and high energy activities,” Saperstine explains. In addition to the 5 creative studios, campers can also choose to participate in indoor and outdoor play like game rooms, blocks, sports, and imaginative play.
In addition to the regular offerings, Steve and Kate’s also springs a few surprises on the campers. “Each day, we bring out special equipment meant to dazzle the kids and give them a chance to play with the equipment they may not otherwise get to play with,” Saperstine explains. “In our line up, we have things like Zorbs (inflatable hamster wheels), water slides, inflatable soccer stadiums and Actev smart-kart (go-karts).”
Steve & Kate’s also has a mentorship program for kids that are too old to be campers, but too young to serve as counselors. Saperstine says they wanted to understand what teenagers considered to be important, and discovered that they wanted the camp experiences, but also wanted to develop leadership and other skills. “So, we developed a mentorship program in which teens get mentored by our counselors on some of the important lessons in being a good leader like empathy and understanding various situations.”
The teens help younger campers, which provides an opportunity to practice what they’ve learned. But, Saperstine says, “Their days are wide open though, so whenever they want to make a beat with their friends in the music studio, they are welcome to at any time!”