Published On: Wed, Jul 8th, 2020

Learning Continues at Virtual STEM-Focused Summer Camp

By Mikey Fontus 

While some students are ecstatic about not having school or hanging out with their friends over the summer break, one group of kids are honing their leadership skills and discovering new interests, all while having fun with friends at a virtual camp.

The campers in the five-week STEM-focused camp have been learning about various species of marine life, sharpening their reading and math skills and using Final Cut Pro, a video-editing program, in their digital media class.

“With everything that is going on around the world and in our country now, this camp is a great tool to address the social and emotional needs of these children,” said camp director Shelia McKenzie, who also works as an elementary school teacher. “They are so engaged and they look forward to joining us each day.” 

The highlight among the campers – who live in the northern, southern, central and western parts of the county – is their home economics class where they create projects while developing basic domestic survival skills and a creative mindset that will keep them cleaning, crafting and cooking long after camp is over.

“I just love this class because it is so real,” said Daniyah Straghn, a seventh grader and one of three junior counselors who supervise the campers under the direction of the professionals. “It is so important that we learn how to cook and sew and wash when you are young than when we get older.” 

On Week one, the campers, armed with gloves, sponges and Fabulosa, learned about decluttering and cleaning their homes.

On laundry day, they were issued detergent and fabric softener, then after figuring out the intricacies of a washer and dryer, they did their laundries. Some washed their clothes by hand. They also learned how to remove a stain and the art of ironing.  

The following week, each camper received a sewing kit, an apron, iron-on logos and they learned how to sew on a button and repair a rip.

“Home economics is becoming a lost art, and so, we need to teach these skills now, more than ever,” instructor Aida Smith said.

Smith thinks every child needs to know how to cook. During a recent class, she taught them the importance of buying, cleaning and cooking fresh produce, an opportunity she maintains will set them on a path to healthy eating habits.

“Many of us are part of a generation where the takeout menu reigns supreme, and it’s common to have only the basics of cooking skills,” she said.

The final week is devoted to scrapbooking.

The camp, which is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin counties, United Way of Palm Beach County, Quantum Foundation, Riviera Beach Parks and Recreation Department, Riviera Beach Community Development Corporation and Doug Young of the Wiser Choice, is done over Webex, Zoom and Google Meet. For more information, call 561-665-0151 or 954-775-5548.

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