This post was written in partnership with Summer Discovery
This past summer, my 12-year old son mentioned to me that he was finally ready for sleepaway camp, but knowing him, I wasn’t sure the traditional sleep-in-a-cabin type experience was right for him. He’s an adventurous kid, who loves learning – both in the classroom and in the world – so I figured he might want something a little less rustic than the options I’d seen for kids his age.
That’s why I was so pleased when I connected with the amazing folks at Summer Discovery, who kindly offered to host Drew last summer at their Jr Discovery program at Georgetown University. It’s a specialized enrichment program for middle school students (grades 6, 7, and 8) that they offer over two weeks (or three, depending on your campus) in the summer. And even though I actually assist this family-owned company (with a 54 year history!) with their social media, I was not intimately aware of everything the program had to offer until my son experienced it first hand. And well, let me just say I’m super impressed.
If you’re looking for a unique summer experience that combines some academics with cultural experiences in two amazing cities (L.A – UCLA and Washington D.C. – Georgetown University), then you’ll want to pay close attention.
Drew’s program at Georgetown University was customized to his interests areas, with daily educational workshops for the mind and the body in everything from digital photography, mock trial, CSI, to tennis, basketball, dance and more, that attendees get to choose once they register (and course registration opens up). Workshops are taught by actual university instructors, which is something you don’t often see in summer programs that often just rent space at colleges or universities. My son could not stop raving about how cool the teachers were, which is saying something when your kid is excited about what could very loosely be described as “summer school.”
Outside of the workshops, the afternoons and evenings are filled to the brim with activities, whether it’s casino night, karaoke, or games (just to name a few), to exploring the rich culture that our nation’s capital has to offer. Drew visited numerous monuments, museums, and sightseeing stops during his two-week visit.
Here are the photos I got while my son was away: His custom omelette
All this happens right on the Georgetown University (or UCLA) campus, which means getting a taste of dorm life and cafeteria food (which we learned was pretty amazing). It’s also getting a taste of responsibility and independence, invaluable lessons that are carefully supervised by the enthusiastic Summer Discovery resident counselors (RCs). Seriously, I was so impressed with how tight a ship these counselors run, but it’s clear they have many years of experience doing this. It certainly shows.
But I think most memorable for my son was meeting people from all over the world. With a roommate from Bermuda (who was perfectly matched with my son, so much so that I am dying to know their secret algorithm beyond the in-depth questionnaire I had to fill out), and floor mates from Vietnam, Dubai, and Michigan (amongst other places), he was able to learn so much about different people and their cultures, not to mention befriending them along the way. In fact, they all still have a group text thread that’s going strong, months after the program was over.
It’s definitely more expensive than what you might expect for a sleepaway summer camp, but then again, you’re getting so much more. Every single activity, museum visit, baseball game, you get the idea (along with the transportation) is included, not to mention the university housing and meals, which feature modern advances like air conditioning. What you’re giving your child goes way beyond camaraderie in the woods. The educational and cultural experiences they get during their 2-3 weeks is invaluable, and something they’ll never forget, so much so that I’m saving my pennies up for this coming summer because he’s already talking about going to back again this year.
Thank you so much to Summer Discovery for providing Drew with a complimentary Jr Discovery experience this past summer. If you have questions about this program (including their soon-to-be announced STEM program for middle schoolers at University of Colorado at Boulder), or their pre-college enrichment programs and summer internship programs for high school students, leave them in the comments. Applications are open for summer 2020!