Preparation is in full swing for this summer’s science camps at Hope College.

Running between June 11 and July 27, the season will feature more than 50 week-long camps for students entering kindergarten through 12th grade in the fall.  The camps are organized by age group, and feature themes ranging from “Tykes Lego” to “Science of Star Wars” to “Club Vet” to “Programming and Circuitry.”  New camps this year include “Nursing and Health Professions” for middle-school students, and “Exploring Ecosystems” for students in grades three-five and six-eight.  Most camps run in the morning or afternoon with a few taking place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Registration is on-going, and families interested in more information or in registering a participant may find the complete schedule online.  Prices for the camps vary, but most are $135.  Scholarships are available.

The program started with a dream of a scientist to share his excitement for science with a younger generation. In 1997, Tod Gugino, long-time chemistry department lab manager, began running summer science programs. About 25-30 elementary-school students participated in a single chemistry-themed camp at Hope, with two Hope science students helping out that year.

Word spread and over the years the camps gradually grew in both number and scope. This summer’s 50-plus camps and 900 participants will be led by 20 staff members.  Across the history of the program, a total of 194 different camps have been developed, attended by nearly 12,000 participants.  Approximately 150 Hope students have been employed as camp staff.  The fun has also come full circle, as some members of this year’s camp staff were campers as kids.

The camps are now named in honor of Gugino, who died in 2013.  As part of ExploreHope, they are also now among several outreach programs at Hope that have a K-12 focus in science, mathematics and engineering.

ExploreHope is a self-funded program at Hope that manages not only the Summer Science Camp program but also Saturday outreach programs during the academic year and programs with local schools.  Partnerships with local Girl Scout and Boy Scout councils, local high schools and the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute have sponsored engineering and science merit badge days along with an air-quality monitoring program for middle and high school students.

ExploreHope aims to include a diverse population of participants that reflect the community at large regardless of financial or logistical barriers to participation. Recent grant awards are sponsoring programs this summer for underserved middle school students in the Step Up program to participate in a two-week camp program. Additionally, all Holland Public Schools seventh graders are invited to a unique week-long camp in conjunction with their new STEM classes in the district.