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Taking Learning Outside the Classroom

Calvin University’s H.E.A.L.T.H. Camp offers boys and girls the chance to embrace and explore the complexities of medicine in ways that are fun, age-appropriate, and hands-on.

Summer is here, and school is out—but that’s no reason to stop learning.

Each year, Calvin University hosts a range of summer camp offerings for students ages 5-18 on topics as varied as chemistry, nature, music, sports, and health care. The camps offer a fresh look at familiar and important subjects, giving campers a chance to delve into new experiences in a personalized, interactive learning environment.

“Formal schooling is rhythmic. It starts and stops with the seasons. It stops on the weekends, on holidays, and in the summer. But at Calvin University, our hope is that education never stops,” said Sarah Visser, executive vice president for student experience and strategy. “Students’ minds are their most precious assets, and our stewardship of their education shouldn’t stop at the end of a semester. Summer campers come here and have a chance to grapple with some of the most interesting concepts and problems they’ll encounter in the course of their education. We offer STEM, arts, and athletics concentrations to help accommodate different learning styles and preferences, as well.”

The camps aim not only to educate campers but to reconnect and inspire them. To keep up with the camps’ growing popularity, Calvin has evolved its offerings. Last summer, for instance, Calvin’s health-care camp was available only to girls. This summer, Calvin made it available for free to all students who want to learn more about healthy living and explore careers in health care.

“Last year, we were ecstatic about kicking off a H.E.A.L.T.H. (Health Education and Leadership Training for a Hopeful Future) Camp for girls,” said Dr. Adejoke Ayoola, dean of Calvin University’s School of Health and Nursing. “After years of teaching local moms about women’s health care, we heeded their call to invite daughters into the mix. We saw these girls light up, engaging with the tasks many medical professionals take on day to day. This year we were pleased to introduce this camp to boys, too. In our unique H.E.A.L.T.H. Camp, students embrace and explore the complexities of medicine in a way that is fun, age-appropriate, and hands-on.”

The chemistry camp caters to students in sixth through eighth grades and offers experiments and demonstrations intended to enliven early chemistry learning. The H.E.A.L.T.H. camp is divided into several sessions broken out by gender and age. Knollcrest Music Camp offers two sessions: one for seventh- and eighth-grade students and another for high schoolers.

The nature camp divides campers ages 6-14 into three age groups to improve the camp experience, in sessions spread out over June and July. The sports camps offer boys and girls the chance to engage in new team environments and sharpen their skills.

“We are always learning,” Visser said. “We believe one way to inspire learning in the ‘off-seasons’ is through our on-campus summer camps, which help to uplift and direct students in the Grand Rapids area (by), providing hands-on, innovative, creative learning experiences in topics they might not otherwise encounter or enjoy.”

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