TIC Summer Camp, beginning its 29th year in the DC area, provides kids an opportunity to merge two passions – technology and sports. Flyburst sat down with Emily Riedel, Executive Director of TIC, to gain some additional insights into the camp.
FB: Where are the camp locations and how many sessions are there?
ER: We have three locations in DC (Georgetown Day School), Bethesda (French International School) and McLean (The Oakcrest School). We have four two-week sessions at each location throughout the summer.
FB: What’s the impetus behind this camp?
ER: From our first days, the philosophy centered around addressing the “whole child” through focus on technology and sports. We wanted to design a summer camp to develop the brain and the body.
FB: What are the primary ages of the camp? What’s the proportion of boys to girls?
ER: Our kids range from age 7 to 16. We divide the camp into “Juniors” and “Seniors” (the former are in 2nd-5th grade and the latter are rising sixth graders and up). During the 1990’s, our sessions were fairly evenly proportioned between girls and boys (40% girls/60% boys). Currently, the number of girls is approximately 20%. We are really working to attract more girls to the program through outreach efforts and we have connected to programs like Girls on the Run (a program that uses running to help girls navigate the challenges of adolescence). We are trying to break through the notion that technology is for boys only.
FB: What kind of kid would love this camp?
ER: It’s actually a broad mix. Certainly we attract a lot of kids who love video games and think technology is cool. On the other hand, I would say it’s only about 10% who say to us “Can I just do technology?” The kids like the mix of programs.
FB: What do parents like about the camp?
ER: They are also attracted to the mix of programs, the fit for their kids, and the quality of counselors. We are ACA (American Camp Association) accredited, which provides them an extra measure that an outside party has validated our quality. We have about a 75%-80% return rate, so we know we are doing something right.
FB: What is your approach towards hiring counselors?
ER: Our counselors are between the ages of 18 to 24. We have some 17 year-olds who have been through a 2-year CIT leadership-training program. We look for students who are involved in top computer science programs (e.g., Carnegie Mellon) or design (e.g., Rochester Institute of Design). On the sports side, we look for counselors who have playing and coaching experience. As our website says “All TIC jobs require energy, creativity, patience, and a real interest in children and adolescents.”
FB: Your website says “the perfect balance between technology and sports.” What is the perfect balance?
ER: Every day is split evenly between technology and sports. We even alternate the schedule each day to maintain the balance. Though we have two camps in one, one of the themes that runs through both is to provide the kids plenty of leeway to make choices. We recognize that this is a summer camp, not school. We call it “spontaneous curriculum”. Within certain limits, we give the kids choices about their activities. In technology, if they are creating an animation, they get to choose the subject – Harry Potter or Star Wars – it’s up to them. On the athletics side, they can choose if they want to play soccer, basketball, ultimate – we just want them to be engaged and keep moving. Whether in the computer lab or the field - we use a sort of Socratic method so the kids can create their own “Aha” moment. Our teacher to camper ratio is 1:4, so we can offer this flexibility.
For more information about TIC Summer Camp, you can contact Emily at email@example.com