Venture opens doors to engineering, science for local youth
McMaster’s Venture Camp is not your traditional summer camp.
Organized and run by the Faculty of Engineering, the camp introduces students in grades 1 through 8 to the world of science and engineering.
Using interactive and hands-on workshops, McMaster students help campers explore topics in engineering, science, computers and technology.
Students take part in activities that range from dissection to robot-building.
“We are making a difference in kids’ lives,” said Carm Vespi, manager of engineering alumni relations. “We’re exposing them to the excitement of science and engineering and challenging them to develop their skills and abilities and think about how they can channel these into a happy and rewarding future.”
The camp opened in 1991 with 120 participants. This year more than 1400 students have attended Venture Camp.
This year, Venture workshops are being offered at summer camps run by off-campus community organizations for local youth. These include the SNAP Connection, the Eva Rothwell Centre, the Flamborough YMCA and Camp Stella Puella.
Venture also delivers workshops to schools at Six Nations and the Oneida of the Thames, and the new Aboriginal Outreach program offers bursaries so that aboriginal youth can attend the summer camps.
“We are very proud of the development of our outreach programs,” Vespi said. “It’s exciting and very rewarding to see how the program can reach out to these kids and stimulate their minds.”
Each year, girls from area Girl Guides troupes attend Venture workshops to earn science badges. Venture also partners with the Hamilton Boys and Girls Club, an organization that provides opportunities for area youth.
The camp also partners with the Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair and Visions of Science.
All workshops and camps are run by engineering students from all years and disciplines.
“Our counsellors make these initiatives successful,” Vespi said. “We could not run the Venture program without them. They not only work hard to ensure the classes are fun and interesting, they also very often act as role models to many of the kids.”
That dedication has earned Venture the Diamond rating from the Hamilton Spectator’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the past five years.
Venture is successful because the program speaks to youth, says Vespi.
“I believe it touches them personally. Our counsellors inspire them and open possibilities that they probably never considered. I’m very proud of what Venture has achieved for local kids and for McMaster.”