Summer is a much coveted time for children as they get some free time off from school and look forward to fun with their friends. Unfortunately, it also seems that they take a mental break from the overdose of television, video games, and being plain lazy. The idea of summer camp never really appealed to me as scenes from “Parent Trap” and “Cheaper by the Dozen 2” came to mind. Plus, I had been homeschooling my daughter for five years and didn’t know how she would adapt in such an environment. Galileo Summer Quest was completely different than I had imagined though.
Many are familiar with the high caliber of Galileo Learning but this particular program is quite unique as it is specifically geared toward children entering 5th grade to those going into 8th. Each ‘camper’ chooses a major and two minors. How cool is that? My daughter chose Chefology as her major with Green Design and Myth Smashers for her minor subjects. For two weeks, from 8:40am to 3:15pm each day, she was able to have a wonderful learning experience.
Being only four minutes away, we chose to attend the Galileo Summer Quest (GSQ) in Hillsborough, CA. I was surprised at just how wonderful the staff was. Every day we were greeted with waves, smiling faces, and maybe even some rocking out while directing traffic. You could tell they all enjoyed working with children! I loved the energy and the personal attention that was given. Each day, when picking up my daughter, the teacher would give me a little summary of how she did during the day.
It was also notable the flexibility and willingness that was exhibited in adjusting to my daughter’s food allergy (lactose intolerant). My daughter can be a bit shy but she warmed right up to all her teachers and their assistants, even pointing them out by name after the first couple of days. It helped that they all knew her name as well!
The day consisted of attending the major, break, major, lunch, minor 1, break, minor 2, break, then back to the major which acted as the homeroom. There was a good mix of genders and ages in the class but everyone got along pretty well, which was likely attributed to proper supervision being provided throughout the day. Kids actively participated and were highly engaged.
Every day my daughter cooked and ate something in Chefology. She really enjoyed this class and often asks to help with cooking now. I can’t believe my baby was using sharp knives and cooking over burners!
My daughter would recount highlights from her Green Design and Myth Smashers classes but found them to have ‘boring’ moments as well. Since these were shorter classes, she would have preferred more activities versus theory and lecture. I had also hoped the Myth Smashers class would be more about crazy, fun experiments than it was about analyzing and graphing.
It wasn’t all work and no play though. Several themed days were planned including Crazy Hat Day and Pirate/Ninja/Cowboy Day. One of the boys came to class with a frog hat that was hilarious! There was even an 80’s Water Day. This was kind of weird since most of the instructors were like two years old in the eighties and none of our kids were even alive then. The first week was pretty cold so the water fun was postponed until the second week. The weather was perfect for Slip ‘n Slides, water balloons, sopping wet sponge flinging, and a GSQ version of “Minute to Win it”. My daughter was pretty soaked so I was glad we brought an extra set of clothes for her to change into.
This program did not disappoint. Their mission statement includes that of encouraging innovation and boosting a child’s confidence in their abilities. It did just that. The first couple of days I really had to draw my daughter out to tell me how her day was. By day three she’d jump in the car and immediately begin rattling off about what went on and the things she did. Sometimes, she couldn’t even contain herself until we reached the car and would start telling me everything from the minute she exited the classroom.
Parents are very much encouraged keep abreast of the goings-on at camp. On the first day I was given a basic outline of what would be considered daily in each class. Every day following that a newsletter was handed out which included highlights from various classes as well as reminders or notices. At the end of the two weeks, family and friends were invited a sort of open house to enjoy special presentations your campers put together. (Galileo Summer Quest: Camper Showcase post coming soon.)
Galileo Summer Quest is not cheap. A two-week session costs $899 with a $50 discount available. You could probably put your kids in other camps for less but the difference is that your child will actually be learning and enjoying themselves here. Again, the staff was exceptional and extremely qualified. The past two weeks were well-spent and I would definitely give thought to having her participate in a Galileo Learning program next summer!