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Preventing the Summer Slide: Save your patience, their braincells, and maybe even money on grad school

I’m writing this post on behalf of Camp Invention, as one of their paid ambassadors. The opinions are my own.  The trash-collecting, upcycling, DIY-ing genes are definitely Husband’s. Seriously, he rescued an old moldy life jacket from a park garbage can yesterday to “use the foam.”

Like many of you, I have children at home with me this summer; two children of the school-aged persuasion, who no longer fit (comfortably) together in a pack-and-play, gnawing on my password-protected phone while I sob in the shower.

Considering I work at home, and they happen to live at home, keeping their brains engaged in something more productive than trying to figure out said phone password (and causing the phone to go inactive for periods of 5, 10, and then 15 minutes) can prove challenging. Thankfully, this week I have help.


Instead of forced reading time, forced outside time, and forced workbook time, this week my kids are at Camp Invention building original prototypes, taking apart electronics, experimenting with magnets, and learning productive brainstorming and problem-solving. Each lesson explores connections between science, technology, engineering, math and innovation, and–no joke– my kids at 7 and 10 years old, are learning some of the exact same exercises Husband learned at 30 in very expensive graduate school as an industrial designer.


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“Look Mom, there’s a tiny CD inside the hard drive!”

Note: While I do make my son wear a sorcerer’s hat at all times, lucky for his social standing it was Crazy Hat Day!

Another Note: Don’t try this at home. Some appliances can be very dangerous to take apart unless made safe.


Check out the take-apart tool kit! Related: Our basement looks pretty much like this, if you put a couch next to that big blue screwdriver.


These might look like cereal box dioramas, but in the Pinbug (TM) module the kids use blueprint, architecture, and engineering skills to build working pinball machines.


Instead of a lot of parental counting and consequences, this week my children are having fun while being educated. They’re maintaining academic knowledge from the school year (helping avoid the “summer slide”) and gaining skills taught to people earning advanced degrees. Along with all the innovation and inventing comes the camp stuff you expect: enthusiastic counselors, singing, active games, cheers, and worn-out kids begging for screen time on your phone for the ride home. At least they earned it.


Camp Invention–nation’s premier summer enrichment day camp program– is supported by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) hosts more than 1,200 day camps across the nation each year. The program focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and encourages creativity and curiosity for youth during summer vacation. Find a camp near you!


8 comments… add one

  • Marinka June 26, 2014, 10:41 am

    What a great idea! Although I’m relieved that “summer slide” isn’t some kind of a dance move.

  • Ann Imig June 26, 2014, 2:51 pm

    It could be, Marinka, if it you will it.

  • Liz @ ewmcguire June 26, 2014, 11:28 am

    This sounds seriously cool and perfect for my 9yo son who loves to tinker. Could he borrow the sorcerer’s hat? That’s up his alley too!

  • Ann Imig June 26, 2014, 2:52 pm

    Absolutely he can borrow the hat. I even got the cat pee smell out of it!

  • Pam June 26, 2014, 2:00 pm

    A) I love this! I want one!
    B) every time you mention a detail about your husband I am more convinced our husbands were separated at birth

  • Ann Imig June 26, 2014, 2:52 pm

    Just like you and I, Pam! Except maybe the athletic part.

  • Lisa June 27, 2014, 11:00 am

    This looks like so much fun. Especially the part where I envision dropping my kid off so he could do something brainy-ish whilst I go get a mani/pedi.

  • julie gardner July 1, 2014, 2:01 pm

    My son turned 17 last week (!!!) and has been spending a LOT of time with his girlfriend here at our house. Of course, this means I’m stuck at home chaperoning them ALL THE TIME.

    Because when I hear “summer slide” I’m worried about what that means in a whole different way…gulp.

    PS: This camp does look great. In fact, I would like to go hide out there myself. And learn, of course. LEARN.

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