Children from states throughout the country are participating in a superhero-themed virtual summer camp at Troy University.
Civic Heroes, organized by TROY’s Office of Civic Engagement in partnership with the David Mathews Center for Civic Life, is currently serving about 80 students from as far away as the state of Washington.
The online camp has a superhero theme but focuses on teaching children about their communities, government and citizenship.
“We wanted a virtual option where we could connect throughout the week, so we have two sessions per week, Monday and Thursday, last about 45 minutes, and also things for them to do outside the virtual meeting,” said Lauren Cochran, Coordinator of Civic Engagement. “We were intentional in planning creative things that would get students thinking, get them outside and really using their imagination during this time. That led the way we formatted the camp.”
The response to the camp surprised Cochran, who said it was filling up before the initial advertising push.
As a result, the Office of Civic Engagement doubled the class capacity from 40 to 80.
“We decided to increase the capacity and split the sessions, utilize more of our staff that was here this summer,” she said. “We start at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. with about 40 students, then split into smaller groups of 20, and our interns lead each group of 20. We are still able to keep it a very personal experience.”
More than 50 of the campers are from Alabama, 11 are from the Southeast and the rest are from states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, South Dakota, California and Washington.
“It really adds to the discussions so much and adds a different element,” Cochran said. “We are able to offer different perspectives. It’s great to see a broad level of interest from different locations. It’s been really exciting to see the interest and appetite for something like this.”
The camp leaders are TROY students Nicole Jackson and Chauntina Whittle, who are serving as Jean O’Connor-Snyder Interns through the David Mathews Center.
“While this program engages youth across the country in a virtual citizenship learning experience, it has also been highly developmental for our JOIP interns,” Cochran said.
The longest-running program of the Mathews Center, the JOIP internship provides immersive civic learning opportunities for college students to research deliberative practices and asset-based approaches for working with Alabamians in community-based projects.