GEMS Camp is a community institution created by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in 1993. When the education coordinator at NCSA retired in 2012, it appeared the camp would be dissolved. At my request, the Department of Computer Science adopted the program and continues to support its mission of providing a FREE day camp for middle school girls to the local community.
I have been the camp's champion and visionary for the past three years. In that time it has grown from serving 25 students per year (historically) to 150 in each of the last two years. Next year we will double the size and expand to high school students.
I am most proud of the actual content of our camps. At the suggestion of NCWIT’s AspireIT program, we augment our computing curricula with broader themes. We have designed week-long computing camps around “Sustainable Foods,” “Wearables,” “Game Design,” “Astronomy,” and “The Arts.” The slide show below contains images from several different camps.
I love the camp and its role in the community, and I also love the bonding and growth experienced by the young women computer science majors who constitute the camp teaching staff.