The Experience

3C Challenges™ Expertly Designed to Ignite Potential

At Summer Spark, each week features a different challenge which provides the opportunity to boost the 3Cs – creative problem solving, collaboration, and confidence.

Whether designing a rollercoaster for a golf ball or building a rocket from recycled materials, campers apply creativity as they innovate, collaborate with peers in search of solutions, and gain confidence as they learn from set-backs.

Creative Problem Solving

Open-ended challenges with defined objectives, but infinite solutions, stimulate the imagination and spark creativity.

Each day at Summer Spark, compelling problems have campers stretching themselves and applying creativity to find solutions as they tinker and test their designs. While they may learn some interesting facts and develop new skills, the most powerful learning is not related to the content of the project, but to the process of the hands-on learning which allows them to design, build, test, fail, design, build, test, in a cycle that promotes innovation and creative problem solving.

Collaboration

Having everyone work on the same weekly challenge provides an opportunity for collaboration as campers search for solutions and improvements. Guided by counselors, campers learn how to increase their own potential by seeking feedback from others.

Campers work on the same essential problem or goal, but with great freedom as to the approach and execution. Counselors introduce new concepts and guide children through the practice of new skills. As campers begin to experiment, counselors are supportive, but they are not the primary resource for help. Instead, they encourage campers to seek out peers for feedback after coaching them in how to give and receive critique.

Confidence

Taking an idea and bringing it to fruition with one’s own hands is a powerful experience and one that can lead to taking on greater and greater challenges, creating a pattern of success and building self-confidence.

Not every attempt is successful, so an important part of this process is developing a new relationship with failure. Through hands-on experimentation, campers learn that failure is part of the creative process and not a sign of personal inadequacy or an indication that something is too difficult. Failure comes to be seen simply as information about one method or route that does not work. This mindset allows a child’s innate curiosity to thrive and confidence to remain intact through missteps and set-backs.

Summer Spark days are a careful balance between individual and group activity, and time for relaxation, reflection and play.

Each day begins with time for campers to connect on a personal level and enjoy time with each other. When the community comes together to officially start the day, a group activity sets a positive, collaborative tone and encourages new and old friendships. New concepts and skills related to the week’s challenge are then presented to the group, followed by time for campers to design, build, and test their ideas.

This time of intense focus is followed by high-energy games with plenty of time to refuel and socialize at lunch. Before refocusing on the week’s challenge, campers choose from a carefully curated group of strategy and pattern-recognition games while spending quality time with friends.

The rest of the afternoon is devoted to more time tinkering, testing, and tweaking their projects. Each day there is time built in for campers to test their designs in front of their peers and receive feedback if they choose. As the day ends, the group comes together to share insights and reflect on their experience.

Campers leave smiling from the fun times with their friends and the deep satisfaction that comes from following their curiosity and engaging in an intriguing challenge. While they will be tired, and likely a bit messy, after a good night’s sleep, they will wake up eager to get back to their work and their new, supportive community.

Typical Day:
  • 8:00 – 9:00 – Arrival / Indoor / Outdoor Play
  • 9:00 – Community opening (group games, Socratic discussion)
  • 9:30 – Project Focus
  • 11:00 –  Indoor / Outdoor Play (option to continue working on project)
  • 11:30 – Lunch
  • 12:00 – Indoor Games (chess, SET, Blokus)
  • 1:00 – Project Focus
  • 2:30 – Indoor / Outdoor Play (option to continue working on project)
  • 3:00 – Community closing (Socratic discussion)
  • 3:20 – 3:30 – Pick-up
  • 3:30 – 6:00 – Extended Stay: Indoor / Outdoor Free Time
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