Have summer camp, will travel.
Hitting the road seems to be the purpose behind many Charlotte-area programs for children and teens this summer that emphasize getting kids out of their neighborhoods and on locations to live their learning.
The Stratford Richardson YMCA in west Charlotte is taking applications for its second summer civil rights tour, where students 12- to 17 years old will visit the Slavery and Civil War Museum in Selma, Ala., and other significant sites in Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama to experience history.
A science-themed camp at the Discovery Place satellite location in Pineville will take students to Carowinds to study amusement park physics. In Monroe, campers will visit farms during "Farm Week" to see how they work.
And in Rock Hill, "time traveling" campers at Historic Brattonsville, the American Revolution living history site, will make bricks and play games from colonial times.
Summer camp and program directors are working now on activities that maximize youngsters' time away from school. The summer stretch is the time for kids to experience what they've learned in the classroom, or perhaps do other things.
That's why the week-long August session at Mallard Creek Recreation Center - appropriately called "Trip Camp" - keeps campers out of the rec center in the University area and on the road. Visits to the U.S. Whitewater Center for rafting and climbing, Carowinds for fun, and roller skating rinks for exercise fill the week.
"It is a different adventure every day...and it teaches them something different," said Caroline Carver, recreation specialist. "You don't have to go to West Virginia to go whitewater rafting."
Taking young people on an educational trip of a lifetime is the point behind "Creating a Usable Past: A Study of the Civil Rights Movement." Plans include taking students to the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in Selma, Ala., University of Mississippi in Oxford, and National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn. "Sometimes you don't even get to study some of the things we're seeing," said Jessica Williams, youth program director at Stratford Richardson Y.
That was the case for student Jasmine Bates, who blogged last summer about the students' visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute: "We were able to touch the bars that Martin Luther King Jr. had touched when he was locked up. We were also able to read the Letter to Birmingham that was written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to young white preachers. I really loved this museum because it was very hands on..."
Sometimes, staying put at one location is enough.
Given all the expertise right on site at UNC Charlotte, the summertime "Camps on Campus" stay right there for most of the summer, according to program manager Eimear Goggin. Students "journey" to different specialty areas on campus - from the engineering program for motorsports, to the rainforest room at the Botanical Gardens for environmental science camp. One camper, from New Jersey, attended motorsports camp - where campers help college students build cars - and was so enthused he attended college there, Goggin said.
"We want them to get excited about learning, and we want them to go back to school saying 'This is cool.'"