Scopes: Enriching summer fun

August 14, 2013 | Erikah Haavie, Contributing Writer

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Jaye Lasseigne wasn’t sure how elementary school students would react to learning Japanese during a summer camp.

After practicing greetings and commonly used terms, Lasseigne was taken aback when students not only began responding to her in the language, but began pairing words together naturally. “Arigatou, sensei [Thank you, teacher],” they often said.

“It was amazing watching them make sense of the language on their own,” says Lasseigne, a 19-year-old Greenville resident who teamed with Momoko Fukae to teach the students this summer.

The Japanese language class was one of the new features of the Scopes summer camps at Furman this year, hosted by the Learning for You program. From mid-June to early August, more than 200 campers from grades one to eight gathered on campus for weeks of academic enrichment focused on science, nature, teamwork and creativity.

Microscope camp (grades 1-2) introduced children to the environment by focusing on nature. Kaleidoscope (grade 3-5) campers chose from a menu of learning options to delve deep into areas of interest. At telescope camp (grades 6-8), the students focused on acting in one session and on science in the other.

Kaleidoscope and Telescope campers also learned improvisation techniques in collaboration with Alchemy Comedy Theater in Greenville, practiced their harmonica skills with members of the Mac Arnold Band,went stargazing during weekly visits with physics professor David Moffett at the Timmons Planetarium, and even got the chance to practice leaf-blower painting (photo).

“It’s always creative,” says Kilby Smith, a 10-year-old from Greenville who was in his fifth year as a Scopes camper. “Each year is a new adventure.”

This year, Learning for You partnered with Malinda McAleer Pennington ’04 with Fresh Start South Carolina to provide training so that children could learn coding using the Raspberry Pi computer, says Beth Crews, Learning for You director.

“Coding is an incredible workforce development skill, and with Raspberry Pi, it comes to children in a friendly format, using a coding language written specifically for children,” Crews says. “They become creators, not merely users or consumers of software.”

For Smith, a self-described computer nerd, his Raspberry Pi experience was his favorite of the summer. “A lot of us love computers and video games,” he says. With Raspberry Pi, Smith has been able to design a two-player Ping-Pong computer game.

Other campers found joy in simpler things. Haleigh Philpot, a 9-year-old from Travelers Rest, says she made a new friend named Cheddar, who happens to be a yellow rat snake. “I didn’t always like snakes, but now I like getting to hold him,” says Philpot, who has attended Scopes camp for three years.

Bruce Cable, Kaleidoscope camp creative director who has worked the Scopes camps for more than two decades, says one of his goals is to help children build an appreciation of nature, trees, animals, geology and the interdependence of life. For campers that means lots of outdoor time, such as creek hikes near the Furman lake to hunt for turtles, bugs, butterflies and anything else they can find.

“Seeing their curiosity develop, watching them get excited about what they find, has been amazing,” says Claire Smithy ’14, an elementary education major from Boston who interned with the program this summer.

Longtime camper Tearston Brand, a 10-year-old from Greenville, says it’s not a program for sissies. “If you’re lazy, don’t go to this camp. It takes a lot of work and time,” he says. “If you come, you’ll love it. You get to make new friends and meet a lot of interesting teachers.”

He’s already set the goal of becoming a Kaleidoscope counselor in the future. “I’ll get to have fun and help other kids at the same time,” Brand says.

For more information visit www.furman.edu/learningforyou. Photo by Jeremy Fleming.