Camp Invention is contagious, learning fun at ALES

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By Ron Benningfield

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.”


Participants at Camp Invention starting at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School next week take this message to heart as they find creative ways, using common everyday materials, to solve problems that are presented to them.

The great thing about finding solutions, according to veteran camp director and retired teacher Kathy Ross, is the campers have a blast.

“Camp Invention is contagious,” said Ross. “Once a child attends, over 90 percent return as long as they are eligible.”

Each day, the children, ranging in grade from those who have finished kindergarten through fifth, participate in continuous modules that place them in settings like a strange planet, a faraway island, or deep under sea. They must use their creativity, imagination and inventive thinking skills to solve problems within each environment, building on what they learned the previous day.

Using upcycled materials brought from home, the 108 campers could be challenged to rebuild a rocket ship, cross a river of hot lava, rescue sea creatures or assume another mission.

Though activities vary depending on the program selected, each one is designed to educate, entertain, and inspire.

This year’s curriculum is entitled, “Morphed,” with five modules – Design Studio, Super Go, Amplified, Energized, and I Can Invent: Pinbug.

“The two big things the campers are going to really enjoy is building their own pinball machines with their take-aparts (upcycled things) and design/construct their own racecars as they study acceleration and drag,” said Ross.

She said the local camp is fortunate to have Dow Corning Foundation providing scholarship money for almost a third of the campers. ALES’ parent-teacher organization and its family resource service center also fund scholarships each year.

“Last year, because we went over 100 campers, we earned $1,000 worth of additional scholarship money for this year’s camp,” said Ross. “We have several private anonymous scholarships given, too. I try to spread the money around so everyone can go.”

Campers can register until the camp starts July 7.

Landon Wolford is the assistant director at the camp in its sixth year at LaRue County. Instructors are Allison McDowell, Heather Hynes, Nancy Lane, Kathy Milby, and Karlotta Cecil. Interns include Haylee Best, Alex Best, Andrew Coy, Grace Milby, Skyler Hornback, Celeste Menard and Harrison Hynes.

Counselors-in-training are Dalton Bell, Gilbert Cox, Mason Lane, Simon Coy, Ethan England, Dylan Rowe and Maddy Poirier.