Any parent who has ever raised a LEGO® kid knows the hours of fun that can be derived from snapping together those colorful, plastic bricks, and all of the creative ways they can be arranged. All of my children, from as early as one-year-old, started playing with LEGO® blocks. At first, it was the larger, DUPLO® sets, which are much easier to handle for those little hands, and have less danger of being swallowed, or stuck in their nose. But eventually they graduated to the next level, or as they used to call them, 'real LEGO®s'. Starting with the basic set of mixed blocks, they began to add a few of the themed sets, and eventually began building more and more complex designs.
I remember how excited they would get when they would open a brand new set that they got as a gift, or one that they got to pick out for themselves at the toy store. Typically, the first thing they would want to do when they got home, was build their new LEGO®, and then take it apart, and build it again. Combining sets came next, as their creative minds came up with dozens of new ideas. There were days they would spend hours with their bricks.
Here in Oakley, one man never lost his love for building LEGO® sets. And because of that, for about the last ten years now, Wes Pitter, who is currently a third-grade teacher at Iron House Elementary School in Oakley, has been putting on LEGO® camps. Though the summer is when the majority of his camps occur, he has hosted camps during the Fall and Spring breaks, too! Every year the camps have gotten just a little bigger, and the themes have changed to match with the most popular LEGO® toys for that year. Now, Mr. Pitter is proud to haul over 1,500 pounds of blocks to his camps, and the kids are more than happy to try and use them all!
How LEGO® Helps Develop Young Minds
According to Mr. Pitter, "Playing with LEGO® allows kids to exercise different parts of their brains. They have to use problem solving, guessing and checking, practical math; along with teamwork and cooperation skills to accomplish the challenges and creative activities. Kids who struggle on regular classroom tasks may flourish in this type of environment: for some kids, this might be their most academically successful experience."
The camps aren't just a place where kids sit in a room playing with blocks while being supervised by an adult. There are scheduled activities every day of the camp, and challenges designed to test their LEGO® building skills. The most recent camp had a Tower Challenge (the kids were able to build an 11 ½ foot tower), and a Bridge Challenge (their bridge was able to hold 25 pounds!) They also designed and built LEGO® race cars, which competed against each other in races using a Pinewood Derby ramp they borrowed from the local Boy Scout troop.
And then, there was the Boat Challenge, where teams of campers crafted boats designed to keep their mini-figures safe during an obstacle course. Other campers pelted their boats with water balloons, squirt guns, and even shook the sides of a wading pool to create a tidal wave! The team with the most mini-figures left standing was the winner! That day ended with a huge water balloon fight with all of the left over balloons!
Each of the camps that Mr. Pitter hosts focuses on and features one of the many different LEGO® sets. Such as:
•How to Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World: including bricks from the LEGO® Harry Potter™ sets!
•Super Hero Academy: including bricks from DC character sets like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more!
•Brick Ninjas: including bricks from LEGO® Ninjago® and the Ninja Turtles!
•Toy Story 4
•Brick Galaxies – including Star Wars® brick sets
•Building is Awesome! – including bricks from the LEGO® 2 Movie sets
The camps are designed for kids age 5 to 12, and focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) related activities. Mr. Pitter, who is usually assisted by a couple of teens, typically those who have participated in his camps when they were younger, designs the challenges and activities, though he does take suggestions from the kids. In addition to the activities already listed, some of the camps have included activities designed to explore the concepts of engineering and architecture through building specially designed Brix 4 Kidz motorized models, mosaics, and 3D figures.
To find out more about his camps, or when the next one might be held, be sure to check the Recreation Guide that the City of Oakley puts out.
Cypress Storage – Built to Service All Your Needs!
Do you have more LEGO® sets than you have room for in your closets? Maybe it's time to take a look at the storage options at Cypress Storage! We can help you store all of those items you don't use but don't want to sell, items that that you only use a couple times a year, and even older LEGO® sets, too! Who knows, they might become collector's items one day!