"Philip (9yrs) is a creative, imaginative, loving kid who has never been keen to participate in structured programs, camps etc. He struggles in school with writing and activities requiring him to follow the school or teacher's prescribed methods and his academic results have been very poor to date as we try to get a handle on his unique learning needs. He is also prone to incredible moodiness and negative emotional outbursts. He started this summer adamant to not attend any camps and has over the last few years, flatly refused to participate in any team sports, dropping out of swimming lesson and Tae Kwon Do and complaining about almost every camp program we have (forced) him to attend. His great passions are art/making and nature/birds.
When we suggested your Arduino Robotic 2 week camp to him, he hesitantly agreed to try it. From the very first day at SteamLabs, Philip came home completely ON FIRE with creativity and energy. He couldn't stop talking about every detail of his ideas and what he was planning to do. Instead of automatically asking to use screens when he came home each night, he would dive into his Lego or get out a pen and paper and draw something that was on his mind. Each night he went to bed excited for the next day, and bounded out of bed in the morning, eager to get to SteamLabs to 'get his work done'. The incredibly positive energy and attitude extended to every area of our lives during the camp - he was eager to get his chores done each day to earn his privileges and did so without complaint (practically unheard of). He was simply a delight to be with - magically free of the moodiness and behavioural challenges we have become accustomed to.
The low ratio mentorship allowed Philip the opportunity to flourish with lots of support. The SteamLabs Mentors were so patient and warm and encouraging. We loved to see how no ideas were flat-out discouraged. The kids got the opportunity to pursue their vision and take in stride the often unexpected results. On the presentation day, I was delighted by the great attitudes that everyone displayed about finished projects that hadn't quite lived up to their expectations or projects that hadn't been fully realized as they had run out of time. It was evident that the spirit of ingenuity and the resilience of creative risk-takers was being incubated in the camp. Each child was delighted and proud of their accomplishments and clearly inspired to create more.
Beyond all of this - the biggest surprise to us has been the continued developments and growth in the days since camp ended. Philip first declared unequivocally that he needed our support to create a space in our home where he could organize, store and build with his Lego and shoot YouTube videos of his Lego creations for his (yet to be created) YouTube channel. We rose to the occasion and have been supporting him, watching him make clear decisions about how to invest the money he has saved, how to earn more and how to achieve his vision. He has even decided to get rid of all of his old toys and clutter to make room for this important venture. Even more surprising - he has declared that he wants to learn to swim now, "...and maybe even go back to Tae Kwon Do". He also declared that he want to resolve his bed-wetting problem, one that he has simply accepted quietly for years. (Perhaps don't publish that detail, for his sake :-) It seems that all of this is attached to his declaration this weekend that, "I'm more mature now." While I'm not in a hurry for my boy to grow up, I'm so delighted to see his agency and sense of self so strong.
If you are a parent, you will appreciate how monumental these changes are. He has been immovable on many issues and he quite simply seems to have a completely new lease on life. We are delighted at the prospect of having him return to school (where he sees himself as an underachiever) with a strong sense of self and accomplishment. He has begged us to send him back to SteamLabs in August and we are taking a very hard look at how we could do that for him to allow him to keep that momentum going through to the end of the summer. You have seen his capacity for creativity and I'm sure you can imagine how difficult it is to keep up with him and provide all of the resources and support he needs. We are a creative, 'makery' household, but with little time."