School summer camps are becoming big business



Participants in the summer leadership camp of Blount County Schools: from left, Mitchie Neel, coordinator for the summer camp program, followed by ‘campers’ Caitlyn Sautarias, 11th grade; Marissa Fletcher, 10 grade; Josie Roddam, 7th grade; Kahtlyn Painter, 7th grade; Cristen Roberts, 11th grade; Madison Steele, 11th; Diane Roberts, 7th grade; Alexa Dempsey, 8th grade; co-sponsor Aimee Wilson, director, Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce. The two-day camp features, among other things, panel discussions with various leader groups, like the group of Blount County legislators shown above, from left: Sen. Shay Shelnutt, Sen. Clay Scofield, and Rep. David Standridge.

Participants in the summer leadership camp of Blount County Schools: from left, Mitchie Neel, coordinator for the summer camp program, followed by ‘campers’ Caitlyn Sautarias, 11th grade; Marissa Fletcher, 10 grade; Josie Roddam, 7th grade; Kahtlyn Painter, 7th grade; Cristen Roberts, 11th grade; Madison Steele, 11th; Diane Roberts, 7th grade; Alexa Dempsey, 8th grade; co-sponsor Aimee Wilson, director, Blount County-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce. The two-day camp features, among other things, panel discussions with various leader groups, like the group of Blount County legislators shown above, from left: Sen. Shay Shelnutt, Sen. Clay Scofield, and Rep. David Standridge.

More than 40 summer spanning students’ interests, talents, and career possibilities camps will be conducted this summer by Blount County Schools. Most are one to three days in length. In a nutshell, here’s what parents need to know about the summer camp program.

• Camps cover an astonishingly wide spectrum of subject matter. Examples: art camps for various age groups; science camps; career tech camps – industrial engineering, building construction, robotics; ACT prep camps – reading, science, math; ‘cool’ camps – dinosaurs, reptiles, raptors, wildlife; topical camps – photography, cuisine, communications, fishing, geocaching, firefighting, and more.

• The idea behind camps is to provide continuing education and education habits for kids during the summer, to prevent or diminish loss of learning during the summer layoff.

• It works. Comparing performance on national STAR tests shows kids who attend camps outscore kids who don’t by double-digit percentages on measures of math, science, and reading.“We (campers) blow them (non-campers) out of the water every year on test scores,” program director Mitchie Neel said.

• The program is growing. About a dozen camps were offered in 2011, the maiden year of the program. This year, there were more than 40. More than 4000 students will have participated during the program’s five years. Participation this summer is expected to reach or exceed 1000.

• Seven camps remain this summer. For more information on subject matter and registration, interested parents may contact Neel at the Blount County Board of Education, 625-4102.