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Meet the Happy Campers— and Counselors—of the FOCUS Camp

No two days at the FOCUS Camp [1] are alike, but all are filled with lively, stimulating activities that offer plenty of hands-on learning. Monday’s emphasis is science, Tuesday technology, Wednesday engineering, and Thursday math. Activities range from maneuvering a robotic arm and creating Play-Doh electron conductors, to designing computer games. Campers attend a final workshop on Friday, give poster presentations, and take part in an awards ceremony.

From left, Kimberly Figueroa, Cecilia Elsisi, Tayler Hutson, Lauren Dent, and Maizah Johnson explore engineering technology at the FOCUS Camp. Photo by Evan Cantwell

For Nia Lowery, 14, this second year at camp offered up different activities and more opportunities to make connections. “There are more people this year, which is a good thing,” she says. “You get to make new friends who like the same things as you. The first year I liked it so much, I wanted to come back.” For Lowery, who wants to be a biomedical engineer, the hands-on demonstrations set camp apart from school.

“In school it’s more like you’re listening and learning,” she says. “But here you’re actually learning while doing it.”

Tayler Hutson was also back for a second year. The 12-year-old says her favorite parts were learning about forensic science and engineering. “The first year I didn’t want to come here—my mom made me,” she admits. “But I really liked it and wanted to come back. You get to do a lot of different things instead of one specific thing. And you get to explore.”

First-time camper Maizah Johnson wants to be a fashion designer. She says the technology she’s learning will familiarize her with machinery, while the math will be useful in sewing and design. “We can do a lot of different things here, and we learn so many new things,” she says. “My favorite part is engineering, like robotics.”

Lauren Dent, 12, liked her first year of camp so much she brought a friend along this time. Dent, who wants to be a nurse, says her favorite activities involved forensic science. “I like crime scenes and trying to figure out what has happened,” she says. “Not that you see the perfect answer, but that you get to guess the best you can and try your hardest.”

College of Science students serve as counselors for the camp, and senior Naomi Coles was back this summer for her second year. Coles is majoring in biology and minoring in nutrition, on track to medical school. She’s amazed at how the camp has grown in such a short time. “The activities I’m doing now and the information is more in-depth and more interactive than before,” she says. “I feel the camp is just going to continue to grow in this way and be more of an inspiration for the girls. All of them want to be here, and that’s always an awesome thing.”