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SCRRF Robotics Summer Camps
From: Kenneth S. Berry [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2003 11:13 AM
Subject: [RoboEducators] Robotics Summer Camps
There has been a great deal of activity lately in the development of robotics summer camps for this summer and summers to come.
Here is the idea:
We would like to see regional groups organize like the group in Southern California, SCRRF (Southern California Regional Robotics Federation). The organization needs funds to operate. So do the teachers and schools that do robotics. Two good ways to generate funding are summer camps and conferences. This newsletter is mostly about camps.
If you would like to organize a summer program in your area please contact Nancy McIntyre at email@example.com.
These summer camps are LEGO Camps, K-nex Camps, or table top robot camps (EDUrobot or Gears Robots).
1)The school team needs to organize a lot of logistics (if you are doing it this summer that means now!). You need a fiscal agent, your school can do, your team as a 501 C3 possibly or some pass through foundation like a community organization. SCRRF is a 501 C3 so it qualifies for Southern California.
2) The team must have a venue. Your school site may work but you need to get permission from the principal. You also need to calculate how much room you will need.
3) You need to have a plan for the summer camp. Mike Bastoni held some very successful workshops last summer where the teams developed a game, developed a robot to play the game and had the competition on the last day. This can easily take two weeks of half day sessions. Or if you are doing LEGO's or K-nex you can do the Mars Rover Project, Build a landscape, build a rover to navigate the landscape, mount cameras on the rover and explore an alien landscape.
4) You need to have an advertisement campaign. You need to get the word out to middle or high school students who might be interested. This means flyers and distribution chains.
5) Then you need to have someone in charge of keeping track of records, sign-ups, how much have they paid so far, scholarship requests, waiting lists.
6) The counselors need to be trained. The model used by Wendy Wooten has her team members put on the summer camps, volunteer their time for the team and all the money goes back to the team to pay for competitions in the coming year.
7) Decide on the cost. Being the parent of three camp age kids I know that 1 week of camp often costs $200. If you charge $150/week or $100/week you should attract a lot of interest. Make a budget of the costs, salaries, venue, kits etc. to decide what you will charge. Be sure to collect at least half of the cost before the camp begins. If you do not, many families may opt out at the last minute. You need to get a firm commitment from them. Also, you need to pay for the robots. Buying the kits outright will cost $10,000, and will only support your team. We suggest you rent the robots from your local organization so that the organization can buy more robots and have a regular stream of funds to support workshops, future summer camps, etc. SCRRF is requiring $2000 up front this year to do a summer camp. All of that money will go back into purchasing another kit for next year. Each kit generates $10,000 of revenue for SCRRF. This will be just enough to purchase another kit for next year, meaning that SCRFF will generate $20,000 next year.
8) Decide on when you will have the camp. If you share one kit each camp site will have to choose one two week period during the summer. There are 5 two week periods in a typical summer.
9) Finally decide how many students will participate in each of the camps. Wendy Wooten has been very successful in getting 40 middle school students into her camps. She holds two camps a summer and generally has waiting lists. She generates $15,000/ summer with these camps.
This may sound complicated and it is. However, the payoff is good. Mike Bastoni pays for his teams entrance fees and much of their travel with his summer camps. Wendy Wooten does the same. Here are their costs:
Venue (School for the summer): Free
Conselors: FIRST Team members: Free
Robotics Kits that include instructions (suggested rental from local org.) $2,000
40 students $200 for two weeks (this is cheap you could charge more):
$6,000 profit for the team/camp. (Three Botball Regionals, BEST robot, Battlebot, FIRST LEGO League tournament or FIRSTRegional)
$2,000 for the Local Organization
The table top robots can also be used during the Fall for a robotics league competition, another objective of the RoboEducators. We are interested in developing a Fall robotics league to prepare new students and rookie teams for the robotic competitions in the Spring.
If you would like to organize a summer program in your area please contact Nancy McIntyre at firstname.lastname@example.org. The more we work together on this the better deals we can work through the distributors. In fact if we have enough interest your group may not have to put up the $10,000 for the first kit of table top robots. You may be able to purchase it outright from the student's and their parent's commitment funds.
The table top robots are not in mass production right now. If you are interested in getting a full kit of 10 robots you will need to get your order in at least a month in advance. Mike and Tony will know more about that than I.
These summer camps seem like a great way to generate money for competitions during the year and a good reason to organize as regional groups. As always any comments and suggestions are always appreciated.
Assistant Professor Cal State Northridge
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