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Summer Camps That Are Fun and Educational

By Gail Hairston

(June 1, 2015) — There is a surplus of summer camps available for local children, but the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences offers a summer day camp experience beyond the norm — camps focusing on linguistics, geography, creative writing and philosophy that not only keep kids occupied, but engaged, active and informed.

UK Department of Geography's summer MapCamp is a weeklong day camp for children in middle school that includes exercises in map making and outdoor geo-challenges. Attendees will participate in the ancient craft of cartography, build digital interactive maps to share with the world and conduct campus treasure hunts with GPS-enabled mobile devices.

MapCamp runs June 22−26 or July 6-10, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in UK's state-of-the-art GIS and Cartography Lab (Room 313) in the White Hall Classroom building on the UK campus. Mornings in the lab will be dedicated to map making. After lunch, children will spend most of the afternoon putting maps in action outside of the lab. For example, on day 3, campers will create a digital map and learn how to find “treasures” by reading a GPS.

During all activities, children will be grouped into teams of four and directed by an adult team leader. While UK will provide a limited number of GPS devices, organizers encourage attendees to bring a mobile smart device to get the best experience. The cost is $200 per week; register at

Camp LingoCats, sponsored by the UK linguistics program, is an exciting adventure into the study of language. Campers — rising 7th and 8th graders — will learn new alphabets, explore the history of old words, discuss the importance of language in our families and communities, perform experiments, play games, make T-shirts and go on scavenger hunts.

Linguists study language just as chemists study chemistry — through experimentation and the scientific method. Although they may not speak a language, linguists study many languages, applying  the knowledge of how languages work in general to any language data they find.

Camp LingoCats will run July 20-24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the UK campus. The camp is $75 per camper; registration for the sibling of a registered camper is $50. For more information or to register, email or

Philosophy can be transformative. At UK’s Philosophy Camp, slated 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 13-17, campers will be introduced to some of the most influential ideas of western philosophy. But the camp goes far beyond what some old guys thought decades, even centuries, ago.

This camp is a young person’s chance to practice critical thinking and become more logical thinkers and speakers. It is the chance to ask the big questions that go unanswered, if not unasked. What are morals? Why do we have society? What is the meaning of life? Faculty and campers work together to think carefully about such important philosophical ideas, both throughout history and in our world today.

Space is limited to 25 students, and applications must be received by June 20. For more information or to obtain an application, email Sponsored by the UK Department of Philosophy, UK’s Philosophy Camp is managed by philosophy graduate students who love philosophy and have a passion for sharing it with others.

The Kentucky Young Writers Summer Colony is an intensive weeklong program for incoming high school freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors, and incoming college freshmen who would like to advance their writing skills.

Led by the distinguished faculty of the UK Creative Writing Program, the colony offers workshops in fiction, poetry and nonfiction. It emphasizes imaginative development and the creative process while providing positive feedback in a noncompetitive, constructive environment. Workshop leaders and special guests include published UK faculty, such as Frank X Walker, Julia Johnson, Michael Carter, Gurney Norman, Erik Reece, Hannah Pittard, Bobbie Ann Mason, Andrew Ewell, Jeff Clymer, and Manuel Gonzales.

Registration deadline for 2015 has passed, but don’t forget to register early next year.