Friday, August 01, 2014
You can tell that Galileo Summer Quest isn't like any other summer camp even before you drop your child off on the first day. There are lots of colorful signs and streamers all around. Staffers are wearing rubber chickens on their heads, and they're high fiving the arriving campers like there's nowhere else they'd rather be. As the week goes on, the signs become clearer. On theme days, staffers show up in wacky outfits. You're given updates on what happened at camp that day.
But what makes Galileo Summer Quest (GSQ) special isn't just that people wear cool outfits. There's a reason why campers come back to Galileo year after year. There's a reason why 3Po and Jammy have been waiting for years to be old enough to come to GSQ for years, and why they enjoyed camp so much last week. There's a reason why I recommend GSQ to any parent who says he or she has run out of camp ideas because their kid has done it all and fears camp might be boring. Actually, I've got 10 reasons!
1) Easy Morning Drop Off
The parking situation at our location (Palo Alto High School) was horrendous, but the GSQ staff made it fast and easy by letting parents drop their kids off curbside on Tuesday through Friday. In many cases, parents are in a hurry to get to work or to drop other kids off at other camps, so this was a really thoughtful touch.
2) Parent friendly options
GSQ has fifteen locations all over the Bay Area, from Tiburon to San Jose, which means you won't have to drive far to find one near you. Every camp session has optional extended care from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. so working parents can fit camps into their own schedules. They even offer an optional lunch program, featuring hot, healthy meals!
3) Engaged campers
Your child comes home and actually says more than "Okay" when you ask him "How was camp?". 'Nuff said!
Collaboration is a necessary part of Galileo's Innovator's Design-Build-Test process. Many majors at GSQ such as the Chefology majors work in teams for the entire week, and many others, like Inventor's Workshop, rely on a mix of team projects and individual projects. I love how this teaches kids to work together and to be open to input from a variety of sources.
5) Amazing Staff
I've mentioned on previous blog posts about the quality of Galileo staff. Galileo employs full time staff to work year round to develop camp curricula, so it's always educational and entertaining, and it's always updated and fresh. Many of the staff work in education, and many have been there for years. But it's their enthusiasm and passion that really distinguish the people who work at a Galileo camp.
Case in point: halfway through the week, 3Po and Jammy asked me if I could come in to camp with them the next morning, because they wanted me to take a photo of their group project. They had built a mechanical gondola, but since it was a group project, it was going to be dismantled. 3Po and Jammy had so much fun making it, they wanted a photo of it -- it was just too cool not to remember! But when I got there the next day, the classroom was still closed, and I had to leave. The boys' faces fell -- until their workshop leader, Donovan, told me he would take a photo for me and email it to me! The boys were so happy, and I was so grateful. THAT is what I mean when I say "amazing staff".
6) Fun majors
With so many fun majors, it's almost impossible to choose one! Digital film making, digital photography, culinary arts, go kart making, chemistry, minecraft.... the list goes on. Having so many majors makes it convenient for parents because can send siblings to the same camp, even if the siblings have different interests. And you'll never have to look at another camp -- GSQ has enough majors to keep a child busy for the entire summer! Heck, even I want to go to GSQ!
7) Partnership with Klutz
Every kid loves Klutz! They make amazing art kits, craft kits and science kits designed to keep kids entertained, while teaching them something new or allowing them to dig deeper into something they love. Hmmm... sounds like Galileo Summer Quest! No wonder their partnership is so perfect! Many of the materials used at Galileo camps are Klutz kits, both at camp and at the aftercare sessions. 3Po and Jammy loved having piles and piles of Klutz paper airplanes to make after camp ended!
8) An emphasis on innovation
When my friends asked me which Major the boys decided on, I kept saying "Innoventor's workshop" instead of "Inventor's workshop" -- and understandable mistake, because the workshop wasn't just about inventing things, it was about the process. The important thing about 3Po's floating motorcycle is not just that it floats, but the way he figured out how to make it float. It's the fact that he even thought of a floating motorcycle in the first place.
Yes, they learned about structural engineering and mechanical engineering, but they also learned about prototyping and the Design-Test-Build process. That's pretty much how all of GSQ works, and I love it. Campers are encouraged to try new things, and mistakes aren't looked upon as failures, they're just opportunities to improve.
9) Stuff that's cool enough to keep
After a week at a Galileo camp, kids come home with more than memories: they come home a cool tshirt, a cool pin, and a cool project -- so cool, in fact, that they still wear their camp tshirts, they still collect the pins, and they still keep the projects! We still have the cardboard buildings and Golden Gate Bridge that the boys built at Camp Galileo a few years ago! Every now and then I make an attempt to clean out the garage and throw it away, but I always get such sad looks from 3Po and Jammy, I can't bring myself to do it.
10) Kids get to learn so much more than they (or you!) think they can
On the final day, when parents are invited, you get to see everything that your child has worked on, and it boggles the mind. All that, in just one week? Your child, who couldn't even boil an egg, can now cook a meal. Your child, who didn't know how to thread a needle, has just sewn an entire outfit. Your child, who never liked getting his hands dirty, has built a go kart. The list goes on and on.
Disclosure: I received a free week of camp for two, as a thank you for writing a series of posts about Galileo Summer Quest. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.
Labels: summer fun