As a parent you want to make sure that the camp you send the little ones to over the summer is not only fun, but also encourages learning as well.
Smart Moves and Elephant Thoughts are teaming up to take care of both.
Elephant Thoughts is a charitable organization that, instead of running fundraisers to gather funds, sell valuable interactive education services and use the money generated to provide valuable education services to communities that simply can’t afford to pay for them.
The organization partners with organization that have a love of science education and this year they camps will be offered at Smart Moves in Barrie to combine the best of the play centre with the best of Elephant Thoughts.
Elephant Thoughts are made up of a group of teachers. According to their mission, everything they do "is done in a spirit of education, with the intention of creating sustainable change."
The Collingwood-based organization utilizes camps and play areas to stimulate children’s minds and imaginations. Jeremy Rhodes, Executive Director of ET, knows parents won't be disappointed with the partnership with Smart Moves.
“We really try to make learning fun for the little ones, and the partnership with Smart Moves, completely allows that,” said Rhodes. “We do a lot of after-school programs and in-school sessions, so to be active in the summer while kids are looking for things to do is a really fun thing for us.”
Elephant Thoughts is teaming up with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and Smart Moves Play Place to deliver two sessions of full-day summer camps at their 565 Bryne Drive location in Barrie’s south end.
The sessions go from Monday, July 25 to Friday, July 29 and Monday, August 15 to Friday, August 19.
As an international educational program, Elephant Thoughts has brought environmental and socially conscious programming to all parts of the world, as well as right here in Canada. They not only go to urban centres, but to many First Nations and Inuit communities in the country.
“Our visits to Tanzania and Nepal are so very rewarding and are a real eye-opener of some of our over 100 certified educators,” said Rhodes. “But it’s the First Nations and Inuit community-visits that really hit home for us."
Bring this type of program across Canada is important to the organization.
"To know that there are so many under-educated young minds in our own country is hard to fathom at times," says Rhodes. "We’re proud to be Canada’s largest science outreach program to Northern schools, as we visit approximately 100 communities a year.”
While Rhodes has a background in international outreach, he credits the Ontario-based educators for committing so much of their time to the cause of teaching in places where teaching is scarce. He says the focus of the programming is truly about having fun, but it wouldn’t be the program it was if it wasn’t for the education components and learning that kids seem to enjoy the most.
“Our teachers are some of the hardest working anywhere,” said Rhodes. “To be able to find the kids who need the help to understand, and then implement the best way for each mind to learn is an amazing feat; we’re truly nothing without those teachers.”
Smart Moves Play Place has been a go-to for families looking to get the kids active year round. The indoor play location not only has many familiar play stations for kids, but has renovated for the STEM experience.
The Zoo Guts section is the signature program for ET and is where children can crawl through giant inflatable endangered species and learn not only about their anatomy, but also what makes the animal so threatened.
There are daily scientific experiments, a reptile show, sessions on how to make ice cream from scratch, model rocket launches and many more activities.
Susan McNerney is the owner of Smart Moves and believes that partnering with ET was a great opportunity for the Barrie community.
“Elephant Thoughts is the premier educationally-fun program in the country,” said McNerney. “They’ve won NSERC [Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, Award for Science Promotion] along with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield — which is some very good company. It was a lot of work to get ready for the camps, but we’ve designated some space outside here so the kids get some outdoor fun too. We are positive this will be a great couple of weeks for all involved.”