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As the decisions came down from Maryland public school systems to stay remote, parents wondered what would happen to the exciting summer camps their kids had looked forward to before COVID-19 changed the landscape of learning. Though many camps have been cancelled, MC Youth Summer Programs currently offers more than 200 online camps for K-12 students. This year’s offerings extend over 12 weeks, beyond the standard eight or nine, as physical space is no longer a limiting factor.

Summer Youth Camp staff member
Dorothy Umans

The program started on June 8 and runs until August 28. Each camp lasts one or two weeks, and the sky is the limit when it comes to choices. Many of the favorites are back, including Black Rocket Computer Skills and Programming, MC Engineers led by Dr. Monica Mellini, and Engineering Skills, Yang Academy of Math and Science, Don Milner’s study and testing skills, as well as the ever-popular Circus Camp, Legal Eagles, and many more. Cooking, drawing, and digital arts classes are also available.

Some families wish to avoid gaps in learning. Susanne, a mother of two girls aged 14 and 15, has been enrolling her daughters in the College’s Youth Summer Camps for seven years. This year, due to other camps being cancelled, they have enrolled in several more at MC to help review math after distance learning and try other interests.

Susanne says this year provides an opportunity to help smooth out distance learning that might recur again in late fall/winter. College preparation courses are also on the roster for them, as well as a financial literacy camp, Mysteries in History, and a class in comedy, improv, and playwriting. Their prior summertime experiences at MC have helped them explore areas that might be a possible career path, a new hobby, and build sports skills.

This online method enables us to be more inventive and may finally give us an opportunity to step outside the box

To register or to learn more, please visit the Youth Programs website. For questions, please email YouthProgramsDirector

“Going to MC summer camps helped my older daughter to shape her interests and confirm that she wanted to go into engineering and computers,” Susanne says. “My younger daughter is still exploring all of that, but for both of them it’s been an opportunity to explore something interesting, whether it’s history or woodworking. They’ve done all kinds of things.”

“MC’s summer camps are built from the ground up,” says Dorothy Umans, dean of community education and extended learning for Workforce Development and Continuing Education, and Mary Mukherjee, senior program director of youth programs. Camp instructors are  MC faculty, MCPS teachers as well as a few E-Learning, Innovation, and Teaching Excellence (ELITE) students supervised by a professor. Umans and Mukherjee’s team ask them about their interests and passions, and their availability to teach during the summer.

Summer Youth Camp staff member
Mary Mukherjee

“They have the expertise, we marry it with the passion, and we end up with camps that we all want to take,” Umans said.

The team also incorporates student feedback. “Students told us last year that they wish they had a space where they could go to talk about ‘hot topics,’ articulate their ideas, and not offend anyone. Don’t we want seventh graders who want to do that?” Mukherjee said. The camp is called Charitable Discussions: The Psychology of Conversation—and it is filling up.

“One of the unseen benefits of this crisis,” Umans says, “is it enables us to take a step back and think about what we have learned: What worlds has this opened up for us? Our structure for learning is historical,” she said. “This online method enables us to be more inventive and may finally give us an opportunity to step outside the box.”

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