There was no dramatic lightning bolt. It’s not like Galileo Summer Quest had an intervention with my daughter, but the impact it had on her has been dramatic. The changes were both subtle and not, and they’ve unfolded over time, still evident months after we drove away from camp.
We sent a nine year old, rising fifth grader to four weeks of GSQ, despite her hesitation to leave her beloved Camp Galileo. At the end of the summer, after having learned the basics of video game design, dessert making, 30-minute meals, and cartooning, my daughter Chloe had changed in ways we hadn’t imagined. We knew camp would be fun and we hoped she’d pick up a few new skills, and while those things happened, her perspective was blown open and her confidence soared. The introverted, bookish kid who went to camp without knowing her fellow campers, left with new friends. She gave presentations to parents at the end of each session, and is now first to raise her hand to talk at school or in meetings. She asks to cook. She’s made countless comic books and spends free time sketching. She’s tried both Scratch programming and Python. She uses sewing skills picked up in extended care. The girl who hated anything resembling a vegetable now asks to make broccoli regularly and she tries new vegetables. Vegetables! VEGETABLES!
What was it about camp that changed her so deeply? The curriculum was thoughtful and engaging, certainly, but it was the staff that reached her, encouraged her, and changed her. Her GSQ instructors were new, but incredibly skilled. She learned video game design from a college instructor. Her cooking instructor for two weeks – Chef Jeff – is the magician who challenged her to try new foods in a way that her parents had failed. Her cartooning instructor gave her new tools to take her drawing from doodles in the paper margins to sketches, thought-out plans, and storylines.
As a Camp Galileo veteran, each day she’d see lead instructors of the past as she signed in or played outside on the shared campus. They’d always call out to her, welcoming her like a hero. For weeks, she was surrounded in a bubble of constant sunshine and love. She started talking about next summer immediately because who wouldn’t want to return to a place of such great acceptance and support? She’s already picked out her schedule and cannot wait to pick up where things left off last August. We can’t wait to watch her continue to bloom.
Until summer, she’s ready to make a mug cake for any occasion.