Camp Emerson Celebrates 15 Years of Its "Step Beyond" Experiential Learning Program

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Camp Emerson’s Step Beyond Program has been a leader in delivering experiential learning to bright, creative children who want intellectual stimulation as part of their summer camp program. Camp Emerson campers design their own schedules to include science and engineering along with wilderness, cooking, athletics, arts, theater and watersports.

It's the perfect combination of experiential learning, fun, camp and academics.

Camp Emerson, a resident camp in Hinsdale, MA, is proud to celebrate 15 years of their "Step Beyond" experiential learning program, focused on science, engineering and hands-on experiments. Sue Lein, Owner and Camp Director, had always attracted a very bright population of children who like to have their minds challenged and who also enjoy the traditional outdoor camp environment. A chemistry major herself, Sue wanted to offer activities to play to every child’s interests while encouraging them to explore new ones.

This was the foundation for the creation of the Step Beyond program. "We had always had a very popular rocketry program. And in 2001, we expanded to include chemistry, astronomy, cooking, fix-it (changing tires, installing sheet rock), CO2 cars and scale modeling. The first summer, over 70% of the campers were taking at least one Step Beyond activity and many were taking 2 or more", said Lein. Each summer campers would be asked for new activities and uniquely talented scientists, engineers, teachers were sought to inspire them. Two of the most popular were "The Chocolate Factory" taught by a chemical engineer and forensic science where the crime scenes were both a theater and laboratory event involving the entire camp. Dan Phelan, Step Beyond Director and Ed.D. candidate, oversees the curriculum and presents "Dan's Math Problem of the Day" to the delight of all. Phelan says, "The creativity of the curriculum and the campers' participation in it, is what has inspired them to explore their interests in science in novel ways."

Fifteen years later, families select Camp Emerson for their unique Step Beyond program. Almost every camper finds a Step Beyond activity to try. "It's the perfect combination of experiential learning, fun, camp and academics," says Sue Lein. Camp Emerson boys and girls, age 7 – 15, choose from over 50 activities that include the Step Beyond classes in chemistry, LEGO engineering, RC cars, rocketry, CO2 cars, physics, car mechanics and cooking as well as traditional activities such as basketball, archery, swimming, water-skiing, pottery, theater and more. Campers love that they can use their brains and have fun with like-minded kids who want to try it all.

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