Community Partners Project Tips
We learned so much from reading the responses to our after camp survey. Here are some of the lessons learned by people who were Community Partners in the past.
Test run the projects you choose before you do the project with your campers. This will help you make sure you can lead these with the number of staff and volunteers you have on hand. Adults help guide the kids through the projects and troubleshoot issues that come up.
I struggled with the difference between what I planned and what actually took place. What I’d imagined would go easily and smoothly, sometimes would be a challenge. These challenges often led to deeper learning and a different ending point to the project. The solution for these often was to go with it and not get frustrated. The children don’t care what I planned and will have a positive experience when they are engaged, learning and having fun.
Some of the best moments we had were when participants went ‘off- script’ and made modification or hacks during builds. Mostly this was achieved by really being open to encouraging them to explore their ideas within the given project, as well as providing positive feedback when they deviated, whether it worked or not.
After two weeks of registered camps, we decided to make the third week a “drop in” day at our museum. This allowed us the ability to reach a much broader audience and expand the number of activities and experiences for the public.
By letting the kids roll with ideas and use journals to write down or draw the thought process they were having— it led to so many different projects.
As we got more comfortable with some of the projects it became easier and we started doing stations for certain projects so we could provide more guidance in smaller groups.
If possible, let your campers take home the projects they work on at your site and continue exploring/expanding on their creations at home. Keep in mind that some kids have more resources at home and with the help of their parents, they’re able to do some more sophisticated projects. Keep your learning environment encouraging so that these differences aren’t so readily apparent.