There are many ways to celebrate the accomplishments of your campers as they develop new skills and overcome challenges. Creating a culture where campers are recognized for their efforts encourages them to learn and grow. In general, when working with young makers we favor the “process over the product.” At Maker Camp we want kids to learn through play. We want them engaged in tinkering and innovating rather than focusing on getting the “right” result or a project build.
You can reinforce this mindset by celebrating your campers’ work and growth. It’s also a great opportunity to build memories that will last a lifetime, creating the foundation for their identity as a maker. But more than that, it’s just fun and exciting to be acknowledged for your work.
Taking the time to highlight their work through a showcase (online or in-person) or mini Maker Faire is a wonderful way to share their creations with family or the community. You can even make planning the event one of your camp projects. Our Sharing Camper Work section has many ideas.
You can also “gamify” your camp by giving digital badges, stickers, or certificates in recognition of important skills. For many campers, earning a badge encourages them to develop deeper skill levels or a wider variety of skills. It can also serve as a way to track individual progress and to share that with the family at home, who may be wondering what their camper is up to all day.
Plus as campers earn badges they are seen as peer experts who can then mentor other campers, creating an authentic way for young makers to learn from and with one another. In turn, that mentoring increases confidence and helps the mentors develop a deeper understanding of their topic. As the saying goes, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”
We have a variety of materials available under Digital Assets. For example, you can print certificates and have an awards ceremony at the end of camp. Or have campers add stickers to their trail map as they complete projects. Or use the digital badges with a site like Flippity so everyone can see their progress.
Whatever format you choose, make sure you take time to recognize the “soft skills” too. Working together with the group, communicating well, helping other campers, staying positive, and learning to “fail forward” are all just as important as learning to code, build a circuit, or design a 3D print.