5. Integrate the Internet into other camp activities.
Adding Internet education to your camp program can be rewarding, but, to maximize the impact, integrate the Internet into other camp activities. If your Internet training is only one of many program offerings, be sure to schedule the program in such a way that Internet activity participants can still join other campers in swimming, crafts, and other regular camp activities. There are a number of ways to do this.
- Schedule the Internet activities so that they blend with the overall camp schedule. For example, if there is a two-hour activity block where campers choose swimming, boating, or hiking, just add "Internet activities" to the list of options. If, on the other hand, you want to offer the Internet training to a select group of campers (e.g., see Case Study #6 at the end of this section), be sure to schedule their labs so that they can participate in some of the other camp activities as well.
- Choose Internet activities that blend well with other offerings. Encourage your campers to conduct research on some camp activity via the Internet. If, for example, your participants make beadwork bracelets, they can search the Internet to learn how native Americans use beadwork to decorate their clothing and artifacts. If you offer horseback riding at your camp, your Internet explorers could learn more about breeds, training, or the evolution of horses in North America by visiting Web sites.
- If your participants have different computer skill levels, let the advanced group create their own Web design company and contract their services to the less advanced group (e.g., see Case Study #6). The beginners can do Internet searches to find sites of interest and their contractors can create a site that incorporates those links. Both groups could have daily meetings, and the contractors could deliver progress reports to their "employers." The groups could work together to use information from their own Web site to create and update a camp newsletter.
- An Internet scavenger hunt is a great way for participants to practice searching the Internet for specific information, and the hunt can easily be tailored to your camp theme. Arranged in teams of two, campers begin with a list of objects; when the team captures the object on their computer screen, a staff member initials the item
on the list. The team with the most "hits" at the end of the time period wins a prize.
The example in the Sample Lesson Plans and Activity Sheets section is a sample of an
object list used at Camp Courage. As you can see from the sample list, almost any
person or object can be part of the hunt.
- Include camp counselors, staff, and others in your special program. For example, at Camp Courage (see Case Study #6 at the end of this section) regular camp counselors help in the computer lab and participate in a panel, sharing their college experiences with the campers in the Internet and College Preview Program.
Internet Safety and Acceptable UseIn all the excitement of integrating Internet activities into your camp, don't forget that the Internet was originally used by adults. Take steps to ensure that your campers use the resource responsibly and safely.
Although most instructors have positive experiences when using the Internet as a teaching tool, there are people on the Net who post text and photos that are not appropriate for your campers. The best protection is to be aware of what your campers are doing at all times. If you provide them with focused, stimulating activities, they will be less likely to get into trouble out of boredom or because of misguided searches. However, there are also software programs available that block access to sexually explicit Internet resources. The titles listed below are samples of such software programs; a local computer store can provide details on options and costs.
- SurfWatch™ by SurfWatch Software, Inc.
- Net Nanny™ by Trove Investment Corporation
- Bess, the Internet Retriever™ by N2H2, Incorporated
- CyberPatrol® by Microsystems Software
Your campers should be made aware that they are responsible for using the Internet ethically and legally. Most Internet service providers have what is called an "acceptable use policy." These policies are designed to prohibit file theft or violations of informational privacy. Make sure that you and your campers read and adhere to the policies of your service provider. Discuss Internet safety, acceptable use, and ethics with program staff, parents, and participants. Below is an excerpt from a form signed by high school participants and their parents before Internet access is provided.