Mountain View parent Vaibhavi Gala quit her job in early 2011 to start the summer camp she envisioned for her two daughters.
The camp would not only be filled with fun activities, but be educational and would empower children to develop a positive mindset from an early age.
Held in Mountain View and Los Altos, Camp Imagineerz is now in its second summer. Gala, who used to work in the education department of a software company, discussed with Patch its purpose and what kids can get out of it.
Patch: It seems from the website that the camp has a really creative focus to it, encouraging children to be inventors. Can you talk a little about that theme?
Vaibhavi Gala: Sure, the main concept of the camp is that if you believe in yourself, and you persist in what you want to do, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. There’s this problem-solving mindset, where you can be creative about any obstacle that comes your way. The idea of "Yes, I can solve this," is the idea you want children to learn and instill in themselves. We call it building "I can" attitudes.
Patch: What are some of the individual programs at the camp?
Gala: One is the story lab. We have the four "I can characters" there. They go on adventures and face challenges. Then children come up with solutions about how they might face those challenges. They come up with problem-solving strategies and then they act out the story that they build at the end of the week.
The second activity is the creativity studio. We work a lot with recycled materials such as cardboard, egg cartons, plastic bags and stuff like that. We give them mini-challenges, such as "create a footwear or waterwheel." They ask, “How are we going to do that?” and we remind them of the strategies they learned and they themselves came up with. We’ve had kids tell us that they see a box in a different way after camp [laughs].
Patch: What age is the camp geared towards?
Gala: Right now we’re operating for elementary level kids. We’re also working on introducing a middle school program next year. This year we’re shooting to have about 40 participants per week. There are three weeks in Mountain View and three weeks in Los Altos.
Patch: There are obviously a lot of camps in this area, as you can tell from our . Why would parents want to choose this camp over others?
Gala: I think the main difference is the focus on attitudes and mindsets. A lot of camps focus on the content: science, art, all the activities. We have a lot of activities, but you’ll see the culture of camp, counselors who bring on this infectious "I can" attitude, which we’re hoping kids can take away.
And we have inspirational stories [like Abraham Lincoln, and his many defeats before he became president], which we hope can show kids how people can take on so many obstacles and still be persistent about solving their problems. You can achieve what you want to.
For more information about Camp Imagineerz, including available sessions, visit their webpage. Click here for Patch's of Silicon Valley summer camps.