Mason Students Get Credit for Going to Camp

Posted: June 10, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nick Walker

Each summer, Mason students organize and run several day camps for local students in elementary and middle school. The one-week New Horizons Summer Enrichment Camps are held on the Fairfax Campus and have sections for students in grades three through five as well as six through eight.

Each camp has a specific theme: leadership, creativity, science, technology and the environment. The first two camps are organized by Suzanne Scott, the others by Melanie Szulczewski. Both are New Century College (NCC) professors.

Before the camps begin, the professors teach courses to prepare Mason students to run the program, either NCLC 395 Leadership and Creativity in Action, taught by Scott, or NCLC 395 Science in Action, taught by Szulczewski.

The students learn about recruitment and fund raising, and they create all activities and are with the campers throughout the camp. The preparatory classes began on June 2, and the camps themselves are held in July.

“These courses are a good benefit to students,” says Scott, who also serves as executive director of Summer Camps. “Students bond with each other in a way they cannot in other settings because they depend on each other, work really closely and work hard.”

Szulczweski’s camps run in a slightly different manner. While Scott has more of a management role and limited direct interaction with the kids, Szulczweski’s favors more of a hands-on approach. Szulczewski acts as the lead scientist, with her students creating curricula based around science, technology and the environment.

Both camps run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and provide a wealth of practical experience for the Mason students. In addition to earning three credits, students interested in education, community studies, child and family studies, organizational administration, arts and culture and conservation studies often find the program particularly applicable to their studies.

Allie Allshouse, a senior majoring in integrative studies with a concentration in elementary education, participated in the leadership camp in 2007 and returned this summer.

“I had never before worked with middle-school-age children prior to the camp,” says Allshouse, who is also vice president of Mason’s Teachers of Tomorrow program. Allshouse and the other 2007 participants used their planning time to create lesson plans and figure out which activities would work best.

Says Allshouse, “Our group worked very well together and was the best group interaction I’ve had. My favorite experience was seeing the kids’ final skit at the end-of-the-week party. It really demonstrated what we had taught and the influences and relationships they built.”

Although most of the camp activities are still in the planning stage this year, some exciting events are already scheduled. Students in the science camp will be traveling to Hemlock Overlook, which offers outdoor team building experiences, and the leadership and creativity camps will visit Burke Lake Park.

Reflecting on her experiences as both a professor and camp director, Scott says, “No matter what I’m teaching, my goals are always to help people. I want students to be good citizens of the world, to be able to think critically and to problem-solve creatively. That applies to elementary students as much as it does to university students.”

Those interested in signing up children for the summer camps may do so at the NCC web site. All Mason faculty, staff, students and their relatives will receive a 10 percent discount.

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