Best in Camp

From yoga to robotics, summer brought a host of distinctive camps to COE.

Harry Potter Camp
Students in COE’s Harry Potter Camp played real-life games of Quidditch, a sport invented in the books.

With plants in hand and potions in mind, children delved into wizardry and magic at Harry Potter Camp this summer, one of an array of new and recurring camps at COE.

“The Harry Potter Camp is probably the most fun camp that we’ve ever done,” says Martha Mason, director of the Education and Counseling Center, about the weeklong camp that gave young Harry Potter fans from throughout Chicago the chance to dive into everything from herbology to transfiguration.

STEM activity
Seventh-graders learned team-building and engineering concepts through InSTEM activities.

Another summer option, the first Penedo Girls Camp, grew out of a yearlong after-school partnership with this charitable organization for at-risk middle-school girls. With offerings such as yoga and mindfulness, the therapeutic camp was similar in spirit to a third camp run in partnership with Chicago Youth Programs. In this camp, boys and girls from underserved Chicago neighborhoods practiced yoga, played games and met to watch and discuss their favorite movies.

Meanwhile, the InSTEM Camp for Girls has grown and expanded. Now in its fifth summer, the camp hones middle-school girls’ skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). What began as a weeklong camp for a handful of sixth-graders who built solar-paneled cars is now a three-week camp for 70 sixth- to 10th-graders doing everything from robotics to coding. The program continued on Saturdays in September and October.

“InSTEM offers confidence-building, empowerment and leadership skills. It also changes the trajectory of these girls’ lives because they now envision themselves as having careers in the STEM fields, which are dominated by men,” says Charlenne De Leon-Cuevas, national coordinator for The Young People’s Project Inc. The college’s camp recently added a robust mentorship program in which ninth- and 10th-grade girls, many of whom attended InSTEM in prior years, do everything from creating the curriculum to facilitating the program.

InStem mentors
Previous InSTEM participants proudly returned to mentor new students in this year’s camp.

“We think of this near-peer model as growing our own leadership. Content is only half of it. Mentors have to learn how to be creative and motivate the girls and understand what a middle-school girl is going through,” says Nell Cobb (CSH MA ’87), associate professor of elementary math teacher education, who oversees InSTEM with Quinetta Shelby, associate professor of inorganic chemistry.

COE’s camps are distinctive because of the DePaul students from across a range of disciplines who work with the children.

“At our camps, children develop new friendships and gain new social skills, but it’s a unique experience because they’re at the university. Just being here expands their world and plants the seed that college is a possibility,” says Mason.

Check out InSTEM's campaign to raise $16,000 for computers at inspire.depaul.edu. ​​