Summer campers perform a skit to demonstrate how to use the buddy bench they painted for MacEwan students.

Summer campers leave a legacy of caring

September 10, 2018 | Campus Life, Society

Younger-than-average students spent the summer months investigating the past, making scientific discoveries, exploring entrepreneurship and giving back to the community.

In the final week of MacEwan Explorers Summer Camp, 13 campers learned how to use their interests and skills to make a difference in their communities. One of many activities in the weeklong Community Superheroes camp involved painting a buddy bench that will be placed near Roundhouse.

“If you’re at school and you don’t have anyone to play with, you can sit on a buddy bench and someone will come to you,” says Libby, a nine-year-old summer camper. “I think buddy benches can work for adults, because adults feel alone sometimes too. If someone at MacEwan feels alone, they can sit on the bench and another person can go to them. I would. Instead of asking them to play (‘cause they aren’t nine), they could say: 'Do you want to hang out with me?’”

Heather Braid, academic lead with the university’s Social Innovation Institute, worked with Early Learning at MacEwan (ELM) to plan the Community Superheroes summer camp. She was curious to see how the process of social innovation might work with children, so they designed the week in a way that gave campers a chance to identify a challenge or problem, understand the problem from the perspective of people experiencing it, come up with potential solutions, choose one, then prototype, test and implement it.

“I was so impressed with how quickly the campers jumped into thinking about problems they had seen in their own lives, like loneliness, and how much they wanted to be part of solving them,” says Heather. “As adults, sometimes we get stuck thinking about why things can’t happen when we would be better off trying to be as creative as possible. It was a good reminder for all of us.”


Creating change-makers

Leo Wong, founding director of MacEwan’s Social Innovation Institute, talks about the building blocks for creating real social impact in the world: curiosity, compassion, courage and community.


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