Tutoring at camp is unique among my teaching experiences.In a converted cabin overlooking a lake in the woods, I worked with students ranging from fourth grade to tenth grade on topics ranging from multiplication and division to function graphs. For some students, our time was spent revisiting topics with which they had trouble during the previous school year; for others, our time was spent staving off the summer slide; and for others still, our time was spent learning new material in preparation for the upcoming school year.
One might suppose that the most challenging aspect of tutoring at camp would be engaging and maintaining the attention of the campers. If given the choice between math and play, we assume that most children will choose play. Further, with the excitement of the day’s next activity looming, it seems a tall order to keep a student engaged. Yet each week when our session began, every student was enthusiastic about doing math.
Rather than feeling frustrated or annoyed, my sense was that the campers felt privileged to have a session at the “Learning Lodge”, even at the expense of cutting short another activity. They treated each session as a reward, a bonus. Among a full day of physical or social activities, a single hour of mental exercise seemed a welcome change of pace. Campers transitioned quite easily from one activity to the next, whether it was from baseball to math or from reading and writing to woodworking. Moreover, as the weeks progressed and they became better at what we had been learning, many wanted more.
Beyond a unique teaching experience, tutoring at camp afforded me the opportunity to see the tremendous capability and curiosity of each student in a non-traditional learning environment.
By Yash Jhaveri, Private Tutor