By Jeff Turner Director of Auxiliary Programs Summit School

Summer camp means different things to different families. For some parents, having camps lined up in February means that their children will be cared for while they work throughout the summer break. For some parents, choosing a camp that supports a child’s hobby or passion is more important. Sometimes a valued teacher leading a camp can make for a happy summer camper. Grandparents even make the most of summer camps so they can more easily host out of town grandchildren.

At Summit Summer, our camps offer a great blend of fun and deep learning that we believe is the hallmark of a great summer experience. Our camps also reflect the ideas of John Dewey, who contributed greatly to the Progressive Education Movement of the early 20th century. His writings have great relevance to schools, and even camps, today. We strive to provide five of his principles in our camps:

Active Learning–This is different from hands-on learning. Active Learning happens when teachers provide opportunities for children to ask important questions, consider solutions and evaluate results. It takes an experienced teacher, great preparation and adequate resources. From the structural problem-solving in 3D Dreams, to the forensic quandaries of CSI Science, to the strategic challenges of our chess camps, students at Summit Summer are active learners.

Deep Understanding–When lessons are embedded in a real, meaningful context learning is deepened. Our teachers know the value of deep understanding. They plan activities and experiences to go below the surface and beyond the rote. From the multi-faceted and multi-talented reading camp Music Mind and Reading, to the robotic-laser cutter- 3D printer- animation-Garageband camp known as Tech Fusion Summer, to the thematic historical Triad Academy camps, students at Summit Summer are going deeper.

–There are many levels of collaboration in our programs. Our teachers value the ideas and experiences of children enough to share the educational steering wheel. Our teachers guide and allow students to work together to create, evaluate, discuss, adapt and solve. From the musical journey of It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me, to the pratfalls and skits of Show me the Funny, to the winding narrative and crazy costumes of Let’s Make a Movie, Summit Summer campers are working together.

Taking Children Seriously– This isn’t about being serious or intense. A school and a camp should believe in the voice, value and variety of children. We honor the student with the unique approach to a problem and still identify with the child who likes to do it the “right” way. Teachers bring their humanity to school. Children and parents deserve the same opportunity. From the deeply individualized work in our Orton-Gillingham camps and tutoring, to the intentional challenges of our NC and Outdoor Adventure camps, to the high standards for our academic camps Summit Summer campers are valued and respected.

The Whole Child– In his blog on Progressive Education, Summit’s Head of School Michael Ebeling writes “Our educators are concerned with helping children become not only lifelong learners but good people.” Dewey believed in reaching the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual in each child. It’s about the food we serve, the games we play, the atmosphere of respect we expect, the wisdom of our staff and the high level of experiences we offer. From the meaningful two-way exchanges offered in the Make A Difference Service Camp, to the thoughtful planning of developmental activities in our camps for younger children, to the way our sports camps emphasize progress over perfection and teamwork over starpower.

Parents have lots of great choices when it comes to summer camps. We believe camps should contain elements that cause children to make deeper connections and go beyond the ordinary. You never know where that might lead!

Find all the details about Summer Summer at

* Sponsored by Summit School, all photography by Martin Tucker