BRATTLEBORO — Brattleboro Area Middle School is one of 12 schools to receive a grant for the Vermont Humanities Council summer program.

The thematic, week-long day camps for students ages 11 to 14, focus on reading, discussion, and fun activities that bring learning to life for students in a relaxed group setting. The camps help youth explore the world of literature and ideas, fostering self-expression in a safe, nurturing environment.

"Now in its 20th year, the Vermont Humanities Council's Humanities Camps program has made a difference in the lives of thousands of kids around the state," said Jan Steinbauer, VHC's Director of Literacy Programs. "Students who didn't enjoy books or reading before discover that they can — and do. Campers further develop cognitive skills as they think critically about the world around them. These experiences in the humanities can be a powerful influence at a crucial time when youth are developing their sense of self-identity."

The camps revolve around themes chosen by VHC and selected by applicant schools. Two themes are offered in 2016: Be a Leader! (focusing on the epic Antarctic adventure and survival story of Ernest Shackleton as part of Vermont Reads 2016); and Ancient Greece and the Olympiad (exploring ancient Greece and its myths as the world gets ready to watch the Summer Olympics in Rio). Students each receive a set of books, related to their chosen camp theme, to read and to bring home to keep.

Schools receive funds for two staff to serve as camp directors who design the curriculum around a chosen theme, recruit participants, and run the week-long summer day camp. The schools also receive funds toward supplies and field trips, and sets of gift books on the camp's theme for each of the campers.


Reading lies at the heart of each camp. Participants also take part in engaging, hands-on activities built around the reading, such as writing, thematic games, creative art projects, and making and enjoying recipes that reflect the camp theme. Campers meet with special guest presenters, go on field trips to museums, and visit college campuses, opening windows to new possibilities. Most camps close with a culminating event for students to share what they have learned. The activities, both inside and outside the school, help build students' self esteem as they make connections between the words on the page and the larger world.

For more information about Humanities Camps, contact Jan Steinbauer at 802.262.1352. For general information about the Vermont Humanities Council, call 802.262.2626, email, or visit

Other schools include: Edmunds Middle School (Burlington); Fair Haven Grade School; Irasburg Village School; Northfield Jr./Sr. High School; Richford Jr.-Sr. High School (with Berkshire Elementary School); St. Albans City School; Stowe Middle School; Waits River Valley School (East Corinth); Williamstown Middle School; and Windsor Schools.