STEAM-themed camps, which encompass science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematic programming, comprise the bulk of camps offered throughout Ohio. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions, many of these camps are exploring online possibilities.
Organizations like the Cleveland Institute of Music in Cleveland; the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus in Columbus; the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland; Math Monkey in Solon; and School of Rock in Highland Heights, Cleveland and Strongsville, are offering different summer opportunities within their part of STEAM.
Cleveland Institute of Music
Jerrod Price, executive director of preparatory, enrollment and pathway programs at the Cleveland Institute of Music, said the switch to online programming was easy as leadership still wanted to provide musical education to the community.
“One of our primary goals is to provide our community with access to the top, quality teachers, many of whom are members of the Cleveland Orchestra,” he said. “After receiving feedback from students and families, we decided that this is the way to go. Also, other camps around the country are canceling and we want to make sure students receive music education over the summer that they use to receive from these camps and festivals.”
For the institute’s Summer Intensive program, students can expect one-on-one private lessons, as well as master classes by teachers who “are masters of their craft.”
Though online, Price said meaningful educational experiences are possible.
“When learning and mastering a craft, students who are motivated to become elite classical musicians must not lose the momentum of the lessons they receive during an academic year,” he explained. “While the environment they’ll be in plays a key role, there is still a great deal of meaning derived from both personal growth and connecting with new people and possibly new teachers.”
To register, visit cim.edu/prep#summer-programs.
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus
Though the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus plans to hold a majority of its camps in person, leadership found one program could thrive in an online setting and moved to offer it online. According to an email from the Columbus JCC, the Virtual Theater Camp Experience will be held from June 15 to June 26. Led by Giselle Siegel, Gallery Players’ artistic director, programming will be held from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, with open rehearsals from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays.
“All the world’s a stage and young actors need to express their creativity now more than ever,” the email said. “Young performers will explore scenes from plays and musicals, refine their acting skills and gain self-confidence.”
All needed supplies will be available for curbside pickup before the first day of camp. The camp experience will include improv games, music, movement and scene work.
More information and registration can be found at columbusjcc.org.
The Great Lakes Science Center
Scott Vollmer, vice president of STEM learning at the Great Lakes Science Center, explained the center is holding both in-person and virtual experiences. With the virtual experiences, campers can participate in Curiosity Corner Live, which is a daily live stream segment hosted on YouTube that started June 1.
“We saw an opportunity to solve the problem of other organizations canceling summer programs and other things over the next three to four months,” Vollmer said. “We pride ourselves in our ability to be innovative and agile no matter what the circumstance is.”
Another program could include virtual experiences that are heavy on materials, which would be provided by the science center via curbside pickup.
“We want to be inclusive and give anyone access to our programs so we decided to provide boxes of materials to each camper if they choose the at-home program,” Vollmer said. “It’s about meeting families virtually in their homes. We want to continue being an asset, even when families don’t feel comfortable coming to the science center in person.”
For more information, visit greatscience.com.
At Math Monkey, owner Sandy Rosenbluth said campers can expect the same small classes and close interactions with instructors during their camp experience that they’ve been getting since before the switch to remote learning.
“We’ve been very successful in holding classes and it gives me hope to continue to work with the kids remotely this summer,” he said. “I don’t foresee us having camp in the way we have in the past, but we’re open to change. Everything evolves.”
During camp programming, Rosenbluth said campers could expect activities to keep engagement high.
“Students will be insisted to work off paper even while they’re in an online class,” he said. “We also incorporate games as it keeps it all very engaging. I’ve gotten a couple of ideas that I’m planning to follow up throughout the summer.”
Offering a virtual camp experience gives children the chance to still explore, even during uncertain times.
“Camp is a chance to explore – that is going to be very restricted in the future,” Rosenbluth noted. “Even if children can’t interact, they still need the chance to explore and meet other children. When I see the results we have with the kids, it’s heartening and it makes it worth it for us.”
For more information, visit mathmonkeycleveland.com.
School of Rock
For School of Rock campers, camp director Taylor Lamborn said a lot of the programming can make sense online without “completely ripping the joy of music out of kids’ hands.” That was why organizational leaders decided the switch to virtual summer programming was important, she said.
“Our whole model is dependent on finding a way to continue,” she said. “Certain staff members have come up with different things like master classes and drum workshops. One of our teachers, Fern, came up with the ‘Fables with Fern’ masterclass, where they will read a fable, talk about the morals and work on songs to apply music to storytelling. This ignites imagination that could lead to songwriting down the road. It has been fun a lot of cool, new fresh ideas have come out of it.”
Other virtual opportunities lie in having more seasoned and older campers mentor younger musicians, where experienced campers can record their instrument for a younger camper to follow along with. But concerning screen overload, Lamborn said a shortened day and a longer program schedule will help break up the time spent on devices.
“We’re trying hard to give a comparable value in this new setting,” she said. “We didn’t want to do nothing – for us, it wasn’t even a question. We’ve demonstrated that it’s possible to still engage students, we will do everything in our power to at least offer it as an option.”
For more information, visit schoolofrock.com/music-programs/remote.