Sidwell Summer Returns With In-Person Fun, Learning, and Community

At Sidwell Summer, fun starts right at the beginning of the day.

“During morning carpool the kids are so excited they’re jumping out of their cars,” said Karen McCann McClelland, Director of Auxiliary Programs. “I think they’re really happy to be back in person and having fun.”

That’s right—Sidwell Summer is back on campus. Sure, things might look a little different, as participants and staff are masked, in smaller cohorts, and abiding by other COVID-related safety protocols. There are a few other new things, too, as this year’s offerings included junior robotics, coding, an expanded woodworking program, and the inaugural Summer Equity Justice Institute.

“I’m making a toolbox like construction workers use,” said Phoebe, 8, who participated in one of the woodworking camps. “It’s really hard to make. I’ve used a lot of nails.”

In the woodworking program, the din of saws and hammers is only drowned out by new friends loudly chatting about their projects, their pets, and what they’re hoping is on the menu for lunch. “I’ve been doing a lot of cutting and hammering,” said Eden, 9, who was working on a birdhouse. “I’m super happy to be here.”

Fashion Bootcamp is unusual in that it’s a three-week program. The first week is spent with the young designers creating 20 looks; they then choose two, create the patterns, and sew them. The program is capped off with a fashion show where the designers model their final pieces.

“I knew it would be great, but it’s better than I imagined,” said Margaux, 13, an aspiring fashion designer who was working on a pattern for one of her garments—one that was especially tricky due to an intricate neckline. “I’ve been learning a lot and having a great time.”

Even the youngest participants are getting as much hands-on learning as possible. “See, you put the wire there and the other wire there and the light bulb goes on,” said Augie, 6, who was in the Simple Machines camp, as he showed off the simple circuit he had made that day (the light did, in fact, go on). “It’s fun because I built this and it works!”

“I knew it would be great, but it’s better than I imagined."

The fun extends all the way to the top. “Some of the staff are Sidwell alums who left campus in March of 2020, and it’s their first time spending any time back on campus,” said Elizabeth Mayer, Director of Summer Programs. “They’ve been so excited, even more than we expected. I think they’ve really benefitted from being here.”

Whether they were learning (or teaching) puppetry or baseball, coding or chess, the Sidwell Summer community was thrilled to be back live, in person, and ready for fun.

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