WEB UPDATE: Foggy Bottom becomes summer camp for local children

Posted Thursday, Aug. 4, 12:08 p.m. When it comes to naming programs, GW tends to think outside the box. While other colleges have summer orientation and dormitory residential advisors, GW boasts of Colonial Inaugurations and community facilitators. So it’s probably no surprise that the University’s summer day camp has its own unique name too.

GW Summer Tour is the University’s spin on day camp, with an educational focus. The six-week program brings local second through ninth-grade students to the University’s Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses for a summer of “enrichment” programs and traditional camp sports.

Campers’ days are packed with activities such as Web page design, body art and sign language, in addition to athletic activities such as tennis, swimming and soccer.

“(Campers) are always doing something,” said counselor and GW junior Monica Lee. “They’re always busy.”

The six-week camp operates daily from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. over three, two-week sessions during the summer. Campers can sign up for one to three sessions, the first of which began on June 27.

The Summer Tour’s price tag ranges from $720 for one session to $2,010 for all three; the program offers discounts to campers who enroll in two sessions or more.

Counselors said GW’s influence pops up in many aspects of the camp, such as how the younger campers are separated into color groups of red, blue and, of course, buff. And the Summer Tour’s mascot is named Curious George, in honor of the University’s namesake and the camp’s motto: “Curious Minds Rock!”

GW Summer Tour opened its doors in 2002 at the suggestion of Robert Chernak, senior vice president of Student and Academic Support Services, and it now boasts more than 600 campers. In addition to using GW facilities such as the Smith Center and Hippodrome, the camp also takes advantage of its location in the heart of the nation’s capital, Summer Tour Director Sevara Cruzat said.

The Summer Tour offers campers the opportunity to visit D.C.’s landmark sites such as the Capitol, the Supreme Court and the Library of Congress.

Cruzat said she appreciates the camp’s location because of its immediate proximity to a great staff of “tour guides,” or camp counselors, that are mostly GW students.

“(GW students) are helpful because they’re familiar with the University,” she said. “We ideally look for GW students, and our staff is what many parents have boasted about over the years.”

Meggie Baker, a 2005 GW graduate and a camp coordinator for second through seventh-graders, said working at the camp allows GW students to encourage youngsters to learn about the District.

“I think from an urban campus standpoint it’s amazing because there
are so many places to go,” she said. “It’s nice for parents who work in
the city. It’s a good place to bring their kids to, since they actually
learn something and have a good time.”

Junior John Farrell said he enjoys being a counselor and instructing camp courses in computers and cooking. After a “rocky start,” Farrell said he got the hang of teaching and improved his curriculum with his students’ help.

“It’s really rewarding to see the kids learn,” he said. “This is a more educational opportunity for them.”

GW Summer Tour’s eighth and ninth-grade campers can enroll in a program focused on leadership and community service. They take time participating in debates and public speaking and plan their own community service project.

Cruzat added that the University’s influence is not lost on the older campers who are starting to think about where to go to college.

“It’s an opportunity for children to see what college life is like,” she said.

“(The University) thought it would be a good idea to bring (the camp) here,” Farrell said. “So they could be a bigger part of the community – getting GW out there.”

-Marissa Levy contributed to this report.

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