Camp Invention cultivates imagination

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Camp Invention counselor Kelsey Jones was amazed at the cleverness of the students attending the summer camp at Deerfield-Windsor's lower school.

Camp participants from first- to sixth-grade were asked to create devices to cross an imaginary swamp to reach a bowl of popcorn.

"Some kids built a boat, a bridge, some built stepping stones and some took boxes and glued them together," said camp counselor Kelsey Jones, an incoming freshman at Mercer University. "I like to see the kids' a-ha moment when they think I can use this or that from home that you wouldn't even think about."

This was the first year Deerfield had hosted Camp Invention, which began in Akron, Ohio, in 1987. The national camp had more than 66,000 children at 1,056 sites in 48 states attend a Camp Invention in 2008.

Deerfield Camp Invention Director Cathy Jones said camp flyers were distributed to each of the public and private elementary schools in Dougherty County in an effort to reach as many children as possible. Jones, who helped coordinate summer camps at Darton College for eight years, liked how the recently completed program engages young minds. This year's Deerfield camp attracted 64 children who paid approximately $210 to attend.

"Their minds are just spinning," she said. "They leave just energized from their accomplishments. They've done something, met the challenges and there are no failures because every attempt will eventually bring a success.

"The objective is to be a community provider of summer enrichment programs of all children," she continued. "It doesn't matter what school does it, just one of us needs to do it. I'm exhausted. I go to bed at 8 p.m., but just ready for the next day."

On the camp's first day, participants built model spaceships and brainstormed about possible design ideas; discussed pollution; and learned about inventors and creative approaches to making new inventions. They later learned about the effects of gravity and acceleration to build their own roller coasters. Campers also built a new city using recyclable items they brought from home.

"We get to make stuff and take apart stuff," Deerfield rising third-grader Madalyn Reed said. "We get to learn about tools and gears. We get to make an invention that we make up from all the gears and screws (from the donated items). We learn about roller coasters and make roller coasters out of foam and duct tape."

Rising Deerfield fifth-grader Carson Smurda enjoyed Camp Invention immensely.

"It was a fun and active camp," he said. "You get to make stuff with your friends. It's just a really fun camp."

Lee County hosted Camp Invention earlier this summer as well and was one of the 44 locations to present one of the camps in Georgia.