Camping through the Crisis


Shaikha Latifa Al Khalifa, Co-founder & CEO of Clever Play

When one thinks of summer – camps, the smell of outdoors, free play, exploration, and friendships can’t be far behind.

Summer adventures are perhaps the best thing that could happen to kids after months of quarantine and remote learning. But is it even possible at this time?

Never have school routines and academic calendars been so dramatically and abruptly disrupted as in recent months. The onset of the CoVid pandemic invites us to look at out-of-school enrichment pathways and informal education as needful reinforcements.

STEM for Summer

The world is looking ahead at a fast-approaching future, one that is characterized by constant flux and steady uncertainty. As jobs continue to appear and disappear according to the dictates of technology, parents and educators are prompted to look at the bottom lines. Focus is directed towards skillsets and mindsets that provide the baseline for any future endeavor. It is a given that every learner must gain digital literacy. In combination, human-based skills must likewise be developed in equal if not greater measure to reap the optimum benefits of technical skills. Human skills also known as soft skills are the ties that bind people to a common purpose; the bridge that connects knowledge with outcomes. They comprise what are intrinsically human abilities of judgment, imagination, empathy, and responsibility.

This is where the STEM learning framework is useful and relevant. It places learning in the context of real-world problems inviting not only technical but more so human skills to come to the surface. It introduces projects not in isolation but as interconnected pieces of a larger picture.

In the context of the current global health crisis, informal STEM learning platforms come to aid the gaps in learning opportunities. As the pandemic surges on, it is more likely that summer camp as we know it has to take a backseat. Either that, or get a make-over.

In comes virtual camps. How do they compare? Can they even come close to the fun experience we all crave? Camping digitally holds other adventures such as play-based activities, interactive connections, and collaborations as well as free exploration of children’s own hobbies and interests. Camp challenges include offline activities to get campers off that screen and hands-on with camp activities.

As we all face these unusual times together, our creativity and curiosity will save the day. Summer STEM camps provide learners a rich variety of positive, fun and educational opportunities within the safe confines of their homes.

No doubt, the resourcefulness of the education sector is challenged in many ways. Informal STEM education in the form of imaginative camps, entrepreneurship and financial literacy classes, practical skills training, arts and design workshops allow kids to dive into scientific and engineering design process in the spirit of explorative play – the perfect setting for summer.

At the end of the day, there is still a reason to be optimistic. Summer being the season of camps reminds us to look ahead with resilience and bright anticipation. It beckons us to gather ‘round the campfire and share stories of survival and a sure hope for better days ahead.

Clever Play is an online and offline STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) education platform for children.

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