The Science Opportunities for Kids Society (SOKS) Science Summer Camp will be held at UBC's Okanagan campus thanks to the efforts of UBC alumnus Sydney White, who volunteered to revamp the popular kids' camp after learning it did not receive enough funding to operate in 2010.
"I decided to take the SOKS Summer Science Camp over and try to establish it as a sustainable student initiative at UBC that would operate in partnership with SOKS," says White, who graduated in June from the Okanagan campus with an honours degree in biochemistry.
"I went to a lot of camps when I was a kid and it was so much fun. SOKS has such a strong tradition of excellent educational programming and it would have been so sad to lose this camp in our community."
Taking place during July and August, there are four science-based themes for junior (ages 6-8) and senior (ages 9-12) children. From creating crazy concoctions in the chemistry lab to learning about the Okanagan ecosystem and constructing robots, the week-long camps combine outdoor activity with science, imagination and fun.
"UBC has the best facilities in the Central Okanagan for science," says White, who sits on the board of SOKS. "We are going to be using the classrooms, the labs, giving tours of the research stations, and even talking to researchers and grad students. So there is really the strong research component that the kids will be exposed to.
"Our goal was to combine what SOKS has done in past with what is unique at UBC in terms of facilities and teaching opportunities, and I think it will be a really amazing experience for the kids involved."
Along with fellow alumnus Matt Gillespie, who graduated this year from UBC with a management degree, White volunteered nearly full-time over April and May to ensure the camp would be ready this summer.
"We had to secure funding for camp staff, raise money for programming and facilities, and recruit volunteers," says White.
"The support has been strong, from both the campus and larger community," says Gillespie. "A number of people, including a handful of Grade 11 and 12 students, are volunteering in leadership positions throughout the summer."
Casey Reynolds, entering his fourth year of environmental chemistry this September at the Okanagan campus, is one of the UBC students hired to work as a camp counsellor.
"Not only is it a great opportunity for the kids attending the camp, but it's also an excellent opportunity for the high school student volunteers because they get to experience UBC, use the lab facilities and work side by side with university students," says Reynolds.
"But really, the best part of this camp is that it gets future generations interested in science."
The camps cost $130 for junior kids and $200 for senior kids.
"We have subsidized spots available for kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford go," says White, adding that they are still looking for businesses and individuals who are able to donate funds to help send kids from the community to the Summer Science Camp.
For more information on the SOKS Summer Science Camp or to register or donate, visit http://www.soks.ca/camps.htm.
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