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Exploratorium Summer Camp: Anne Richardson and Sylvia Algire

May 28, 2010

From time to time, I conduct interviews with camp directors to collect advice for parents looking for unique experiences for their kids. I recently spoke with Anne Richardson and Sylvia Algire at the Exploratorium here in San Francisco. The Exploratorium offers playful and creative camp opportunities for children to explore the world around them using a mix of science activities, art and group projects and group games, along with their vast exhibit collection.

With so many camps to choose from, any tips on how to pick the right camp for your kids?

It is great to find a camp that fits well with your children’s interests and also gives them opportunities to explore and engage in the world in new ways.

What questions should parents ask a camp?

It’s helpful to ask about the guiding philosophy of the camp and what they hope the campers will get out of the experience.  Also, you should ask questions to help ease any anxieties and address any concerns you or your child might have about camp structure, activities or safety procedures.

How should parents prepare their kids for camp?

During camp your child will make friends and learn new things, and it can be a fun adventure! This being said, all kids have different feelings and reactions to being in a new place and experiencing things for the first time. Talk to them about how this feels and discuss strategies they can use to make this a positive experience.

It’s also helpful to make sure your child always has a backpack containing a healthy lunch and snack, a bottle of water, sunscreen and an extra change of clothing.  These everyday essentials will help your child feel comfortable so that s/he can concentrate on having a great time.

The summer is long, and many kids are in 6 – 10 sessions of camp. Any tips on how to prevent camp burnout?

It’s a good idea to register your child for two-week periods at each camp, rather than switching camps every week.  This gives your child time to develop relationships with the camp staff and other campers and to become familiar with the daily routine of each place.

Any last tips for parents?

While camp is in session, ask your camper each day about how camp is going.  Discuss important topics, such as making new friends, practicing teamwork and self-expression.

Lastly, please tell us what’s special about the Exploratorium camp?

The Exploratorium camp gives our campers the opportunity to be real insiders at this world-famous museum. We offer a variety of activities that balance art and science content, various learning style needs and social interactions.  We create a structure to the day that balances free time on the museum floor, behind-the-scenes opportunities, such as meeting an Exploratorium scientist and visiting the Tactile Dome, engaging activities and time to relax and explore outdoors.

The most unique feature of our camp is the exceptional quality of our staff.  The counselors work as educators in the Exploratorium year-round, building expertise in working with school-age children.  Each summer they develop rich activities that are based on their own content interests and their wide range of experiences in working with kids of all ages.

Being an Exploratorium insider doesn’t end with summer camp; we offer year-round camps, classes, family workshops and other opportunities for your family to be an integral part of the Exploratorium community.

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