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UBC Reports | Vol. 48 | No. 8 | June 6, 2002

Camp Us

Camp teaches kids about different kinds of smart.

By Michelle Cook

Most kids head off to summer camp eager to leave their classroom troubles behind them, but at an unusual UBC summer program, campers get the chance to confront and solve the problems they encounter during the school year.

CampUS is the brainchild of Education Prof. Shelley Hymel and Anne Coulombe of Our Lady of Sorrows School. The program was launched in 1998, with the support of the Edith Lando Foundation, to help children, especially those who lack self-esteem or who have trouble getting along with others at school, to explore their individual strengths and special talents, learn how to cooperate, and respect themselves and others.

"There are lots of ways to be 'smart' but schools traditionally focus on academic intelligence," Hymel says. "At CampUS, the idea is for kids to try different things to see what they may be good at."

For two weeks in August students aged eight to 12 from schools around the Lower Mainland head to Bowen Island to attend the day camp where they take part in art, drama, music, and other creative and outdoor activities designed to teach them about empathy and emotions and get them thinking about the consequences of their behaviour.

"Many of these are tough kids," say Hymel of the campers. "The beauty of the program is that campers come from different schools, and work with others they don't know, so their reputations don't follow them. They get a fresh start."

Guided by UBC faculty and graduate students, campers hone their social skills on projects like filmmaking where they work together to develop multiple-ending movies on real life situations they have encountered at school.

Last year, campers created a movie called "Life in a Trash Can" about a kid who kept being dumped into a garbage can by an older boy. They filmed three possible endings: out-bully the bully; tell the principal; or catch the bully on video tape, and take the evidence to those who can help get him into counseling.

The movie becomes a way of learning social problem solving, Hymel says, and the camp becomes a place where UBC students and faculty learn effective ways to help children.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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