Thursday, 16 July 2015 08:05

Learning and having fun go hand in hand at Medicine Hat College’s summer camps

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Savannah Symmonds watches Zach and Kylie work with thier new video game the nine year-olds created themselves in one of the Summer Camps/ Savannah Symmonds watches Zach and Kylie work with thier new video game the nine year-olds created themselves in one of the Summer Camps/

Nicole Nugent, program administrator for Medicine Hat College Continuing Studies and Savannah Symmonds, the college’s summer program co-ordinator were sitting in the college’s Centennial Hall last Thursday when a group of youngsters around the age of 10, asked them if they wanted a piece of homemade pizza they had just made.


One of the children proudly asked Symmonds and Nugent if they would like some of the food creation, with both college members nodding in unison and agreeing the food was tasty.
The pizza and other goodies were just whipped up by the youths taking part in the summer program ‘Chopped!’class where they learned, not only about cooking, but, about kitchen safety and etiquette.
Nugent beamed, explaining that everything in the summer program is running smoothly. 
“A lot of it is personal for the instructors and their passions and them bringing it,” explained Nugent. “It’s just great seeing how happy these kids are every day. We want to continue to teach them and make them happy while learning something.”
Symmonds, who is currently enrolled in the College, is also enjoying herself and admits her first year as co-ordinator is stressful as she is still figuring out what needs to be done. Now, it’s just a matter of ensuring day-to-day operations are running smooth and co-ordinating the upcoming classes.
At the end of June within the Continuing Studies’ portion of the summer program, there were 953 children registered. Including the daycare camps and the MHC Sports and Wellness camps, Nugent says close to 1,500 children are enrolled.
Adam Black was looking after an environment-themed class. He says an open call came from the college to teachers in the school systems to help with the program and he was more than happy to lend his support and expertise.
Black, who taught at Burdett School the last school year and is heading to Senator Gershaw in Bow Island in September, says the science program is fun, but still educational. There is definitely a different style in teaching, but he is enjoying it.
“It’s more of a challenge you can make it for the kids; you teach them something new and how to apply what they learned,” explained Black who watched over a group of Grade 5-7 students with an age range of 10-12 years. “The dome gives them the idea of reusing paper and reducing waste. I’m really impressed with how much they know ... I’m not surprised at their enthusiasm, the kids chose to be here.”
Amanda Hennessey knows the importance of getting young minds on the right track at an early age and also enjoyed the fact there were some eager students in her summer program she was overseeing: introduction to the trades, a ‘five trades in five days’ program.
She loves that the camp includes showing children how all the trades can work in conjunction with each other — electrician, welder, plumber, carpenter and automotive. She calls them life skills.
 There are at least two instructors (with one of them always being Hennessey) in class which moves around the college campus depending on the course.
Like Black, she loves to teach. She was going to be a physics teacher, but her path led her elsewhere and decided she wanted to get her apprenticeship in electrical training. She wound up going for her master’s electrician exam and worked in the industry before becoming an instructor two years ago with the college. Hennessey owns her own company, ARH Electric, but is originally from southwest Alberta.
She says the introduction to the trades was done last year as well, but this year had some slight modifications from feedback from participants.
 “We teach them skills but in a more fun way,” explains Hennessey who says the numbers of the class (ages 13-17) increased from last year.
“We changed it a little bit and toned down the intensity. The students were a little younger than anticipated but that’s good.”
Another impressed summer program instructor was Mark Freeman who is teaching a class on how to build your own video game using a specialized program. The interesting aspect is that children he’s showing are aged seven to nine.
“It’s fun to teach,” he explained as about 10 children in the class intently but happily stared at video screens. “I’m not a gamer and this isn’t my forté, but here, these kids get really excited. They really enjoy doing this and they’re so involved and engaged. They’ve really impressed me with their knowledge and how they have caught on so fast. They have more than risen to the occasion.”
Freeman answered the call after finishing his teaching stint at River Heights in Medicine Hat.
“It looked interesting and it was a way to incorporate more skills I don’t get to use as much,” he explains. “... The program is a great use of technology and is well within my boundaries.”
The young participants themselves have also enjoyed it.
“It’s definitely fun making a video game,” said Kylie, nine, with her computer partner Zach nodding in agreement. “But, it’s hard.”
While seemingly difficult (for someone not even the age of 10 yet), the two of them have actually created a simple game called Darkness of Dark where the player has to go through a series of obstacles and fake doors in order to reach the end of the trail.
The two of them said while it was difficult, they still had created the game which gave both of them a definite look of joy and satisfaction, as if they had just made a really tasty pizza.
The Summer Program continues in August and there’s still time to register. For more information see: https://www.mhc.ab.ca/ContinuingStudies.aspx

Read 5048 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 July 2015 08:31
Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor