Camp Invention is under way

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By Ron Benningfield

 This week a record number of campers are exploring science, technology, engineering and math as they participate in Camp Invention at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.

With some 105 students ranging from those who have finished kindergarten through fifth grade, ALES in its fifth year of hosting the program, has grown to be with Edmonton, the two top camps in the state in enrollment.

Getting that many young minds signed up for July 8-12 was brought about by a combination of recruiting techniques, according to camp director Kathy Ross, whose work actually began last December with early planning.

“I have been able to visit several schools to do ‘my song and dance’ for the program; we have a new instructor from another district that was able to bring a few campers with her; and we had some friends of Camp Invention who provided additional scholarships where we could help more people be able to afford it,” said Ross.

ALES PTO also sets aside a sum of money each year to help with scholarships. The cost to attend camp is graduated over time, ranging from about $180 for those who enroll in December to full cost opening day of $220. 

“Any child that has wanted to go, we have found a way with a sponsor,” said Ross. “Some parents even pay it forward later on. If their child received a scholarship during a tight time a year or more ago, they later donate so that another child can enjoy the experience now. That’s how much kids and parents enjoy Camp Invention.”

“The Dow Corning Foundation out of Midland, Mich., is also a huge sponsor,” Ross added. “Without their assistance we could not function.”

Most of the campers come from ALES, but others attend from Hodgenville Elementary, Boston Elementary, with others participating from as far away as Bowling Green and Louisville. 

“We also have several homeschooled students and students from Kingdom Kids (Hodgenville United Methodist Church’s school) that attend Camp Invention,” she added.

Children rotate each day through integrated modules that employ creative thinking to solve real-world challenges. They learn vital 21st century life skills such as problem solving and teamwork through imaginative play.  

“Each year’s curriculum is field tested for two years before it is put into use,” said Ross. “The module names are Ecoverse, Cache Dashe, Geo Games, Amazing Atlas, and I Can Invent: Launchitude where they make a duck chucking device (We have tons of rubber ducks).”

Campers are presented with a variety of problems in each of the modules and they are never told the solutions, but are given the tools and clues to solve those problems. 

“They create solutions, no matter how far out there they may seem to us,” said Ross. “It’s great seeing kids use their imaginations.”

Camp instructors include Tina London, Kathy Milby, Martha Page, Valerie McGovern and Heather Hynes.

Former intern Landon Wolford has moved into the role of assistant director. Leadership interns are Zachary Thurman, Alex Best, Ripley Lucas, Andrew Coy and Grace Milby. 

The program also has a counselor in training for those that have passed the camp age, but as alumni, are considering being an intern for the program one day. 

“Those students who will also be assigned to help campers are Celeste Menard, Parker Smith, Skyler Hornback, Maddy Poirer, Harrison Hynes, Dalton Bell and Bridget Southwood,” Ross said.