A newspaper for ECU faculty and staff
Pieces of Eight

Students learn about robotics during ECU’s Summer Science Camp, a day camp for children in second grade through middle school. The camp is one of many kid-friendly programs offered at ECU during the summer. (Contributed photo)

Summer Youth Camps Enliven a Quiet ECU Season

Brody Summer Camps Address Children’s Issues

By Doug Boyd and Crystal Baity

The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University provided camp experiences this summer to help children deal with medical and lifestyle issues.

In a collaboration with North Carolina State University, the medical school’s faculty and staff provided a healthy lifestyle camp for overweight youth at the Eastern 4-H Center in Columbia.

The camp, called Take Off 4-Health, was a three-week program for boys and girls ages 12 to 18.

“The goal of the camp is for participants to lose weight, build self-esteem and learn the tools to a healthy lifestyle while reducing their risks of developing future chronic disease, and, of course, to have fun while doing it,” said David Collier, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Brody School of Medicine and director of the ECU Pediatric Healthy Weight Research and Treatment Center.

“Through participation in the camp, we hope to reduce the chance the kids will develop health problems later in life, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and joint disease.”

Campers participated in recreational programs including swimming, boating, hiking, archery and team sports. The camp also featured interactive and hands-on educational sessions focused on healthy eating, increased activity, self-esteem and body image. These sessions should help campers make the lifestyle changes needed to keep their weight off, Collier said.

Team-building activities included the Eastern 4-H Center’s challenge course and climbing wall. Traditional camp activities such as arts and crafts, ecology, talent shows and campfires rounded out the experience.

“Kids are much more likely to adopt healthy lifestyle habits if they see them as fun and ‘do-able.’ The camp is a great way to jump-start these new habits,” Collier said.

Take Off 4-Health provided campers with three balanced meals a day plus two snacks. The meals, based on menus and recipes developed by ECU pediatric dietitians, helped participants lose weight while meeting their nutrient needs. Throughout the program, ECU physicians provided medical supervision. At the end of camp, campers received materials to help them continue the healthy lifestyle habits they had learned.

The Eastern 4-H Center is on Bulls Bay and the Albemarle Sound near Columbia.

Not far away, on the Neuse River near Arapahoe, approximately 100 eastern North Carolina children with cancer, hemophilia and sickle cell disease attended summer camps.

Camp Rainbow, for children with cancer, hemophilia and chronic blood disorders, and Camp Hope for children with sickle-cell disease were held at the Don Lee Center in June.

The pediatric hematology/oncology staff at the medical school developed Camp Rainbow and Camp Hope to provide children with a chance to learn more about themselves and their illness. Children participate in traditional camp activities such as sailing, swimming, canoeing and crafts, and make new friends who share common experiences with cancer, hemophilia and sickle-cell disease in a medically monitored environment designed to meet their medical and psychosocial needs.

Camps Rainbow and Hope were made possible this year by the Children’s Miracle Network, the ECU Medical & Health Sciences Foundation, the Optimist Club of Garner, Dr. Linda Willis and Calvenia “C.J.” Moore, both of Rocky Mount, and individuals throughout North Carolina.

By Christine Neff

After most East Carolina University students departed for summer break, a different kind of student began appearing on campus: school-aged children taking part in summer camp programs.

Hundreds of children from around eastern North Carolina visited campus this summer to participate in a range of programs coordinated by ECU faculty and staff members.

Youth ages 5 and up gained skills in music, drama, science, athletics and more, all while having fun and getting a feel for college life. These youngsters and their many, varied activities enlivened an otherwise quiet campus during the summer months.

What follows is a look at several of the camps held this summer.

Psyched about science

“The most important thing is that they’re having fun,” said Tammy Lee, director of the ECU Summer Science Camp. “Learning should be fun – and science, especially, should be fun.”

The science camps – now in their third year – came to ECU through a partnership with the University of North Carolina Morehead Planetarium and GO-Science, a group that has been working to establish a regional science center in Greenville. The program ran through July 18 and is funded by grant monies and enrollment fees.

The day camp targeted rising second-graders through middle-schoolers, and attracted about 300 students this year, mostly from the Greenville community, Lee said.

Camp provided a range of kid-friendly, science-based activities. This year, campers learned about endangered animals, aerodynamics and marine biology. They investigated mock crime scenes, using techniques such as DNA analysis, and built their own robots.

Through the experience, Lee said, the students gained more confidence in their science skills. “We want them to walk away with, hopefully, a change in attitude and beliefs about science. We want them to learn that it can be fun, it can be hands-on and they can do it,” she said. Not only do the campers benefit from those lessons, the counselors – most of them ECU students or recent graduates of the College of Education – gain valuable experience in teaching them.

Jessica Givens, who graduated this spring with a degree in elementary education, said she picked up “some wonderful ideas” to use in her classroom. She especially enjoyed watching students learn through experimentation: “It’s so hands-on. It’s almost like learning by accident.”

Notes from band camp

While science may be learned through chance discovery, mastering a musical instrument takes careful repetition. Some student-musicians with a desire to improve their skills over summer break did just that by attending ECU’s Summer Band Camp.

For one week this June, 250 students in grades six through 12 came to ECU to live and breathe music. “We want them to have fun, but we also work them really hard,” said Scott Carter, camp director and chair of the instrumental department of the School of Music.

The overnight camp has been offered nearly every summer since the early 1960s. Most of this year’s campers came from eastern North Carolina, but some traveled from Georgia, Virginia, even Maryland to attend.

Carter said this camp is unique in that the staff auditions all students, placing them in one of three concert bands based on skill level, not age. This gives even young musicians a chance to perform at their highest level. “We hope the experience will allow them to go back into their schools and be leaders beyond where they were before,” Carter said.

Every day, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., students practiced with faculty from ECU’s instrumental department. The young musicians got a taste for college life, staying in the Tyler Residence Hall and using campus facilities, like the Campus Recreation Center, during breaks.

But their primary focus was on the music. They studied music theory and rehearsed diligently for a Friday night concert for family and friends.

“We’ll take a bunch of kids who never played a note together starting Monday morning, and on Friday night, they’ll play a good concert,” Carter said.

All about fun

One of the expressly written rules for kids who attended the Campus Recreation and Wellness Summer Youth Camps was to “have fun.”

The day camps involved kids ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 12. The younger class participated in “Nature Discovery,” learning about topics such as bugs, birds, planets and stars. The older camp, “Recreation Nation,” embarked on field trips to regional attractions.

Mark Parker, director of the camp, said more than 200 kids participated this year. “It really could be bigger,” he said, noting that classes filled within three weeks of opening registration.

Twelve counselors, all of them ECU students or recent graduates, led the camp activities. Most of the counselors are education majors, and the experience gave them the opportunity to improve their classroom skills.

But for the kids, the camp was all about making friends, hanging out – literally, on days they used the climbing wall – and, most importantly, having fun.


This page originally appeared in the Aug. 1, 2008 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at