Duke Summer Camp Registration Now Open

This year's offerings for young students range from cryptology to gardening

Girls' lacrosse is one of the summer camp topics offered to children of Duke employees this year. This photo is of the 2013 Elite Camp and Blue Devil Camp participants. Photo courtesy of Duke Athletics.

The summer camp lineup this year is for children who dream of becoming spies who crack code, authors who write bestselling Sci-Fi novels or master gardeners who pepper meals with homegrown tomatoes.

Registration for Duke's summer camps is now open for children of Duke staff and faculty, and there are 28 camp options so far, from running and lacrosse to writing and math. More camps for children may be added in coming weeks.

"They're not just sitting at home watching hours and hours of TV and video games," said Gina McKoy, program coordinator for Duke Human Resources Staff and Family Programs. "... They can actually learn something in the summertime, in the summer months, when they're away from school."

The camps offer their own discounts and scholarship opportunities, and children of Duke employees can receive discounts that range from $50 off to 20 percent off the total cost.

Among the summer offerings are 12 camps hosted by the Duke Continuing Studies Youth Programs. The programming varies from the Young Writers' Camp, which has been held since 1983 and allows students to pick a writing discipline such as Sci-Fi, nonfiction or poetry, to "Cracking the Code: High School Crypto-Camp," where high schoolers learn the history of cryptology and how to unravel codes. That camp also will include code-cracking relay races and scavenger hunts around Duke campus.

Thomas Patterson, Youth Programs director for Duke Continuing Studies, said his office started to notice a few years ago an increased demand for math and science camps. This year, they're holding camps focused on biosciences and engineering, math, computers, and a sciences camp specifically for girls.

"I enjoy being around young people, and I enjoy being in a position where I can create opportunities that can impact their lives and inspire them," said Patterson, a retired educator who taught at Carolina Friends School in Durham.

At Sarah P. Duke Gardens, three camp topics are offered: "Plant it, Grow It, Eat It," which teaches vegetable gardening and the use of herbs; "Eco Artists," which pairs art with nature observations; and "Birds, Bugs and Beasts," in which students will examine garden wildlife such as turtles, butterflies and native birds. Gardens staff also offer other camps throughout the year, which includes a spring break camp in mid-April.

Hope Wilder, the interim education program coordinator for Duke Gardens, said during a past camp, a group of girls took a special interest in the pollinator garden near the Doris Duke Center and caught butterflies.

"They knew not only that there are butterflies in the garden, but they knew the different colors of the specific butterfly. They knew this one swallowtail butterfly that lives on this dill plant," Wilder said.

On the sports side, Erin Stephenson, administrative assistant to the Duke lacrosse and soccer programs, said the lacrosse staff members are gearing up for their summer camp sessions for experienced high school players to third graders who may have never picked up a lacrosse stick.

"It's exciting to see how they've grown by the end of the week," Stephenson said.