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Behind the NIHF Scenes

In Conversation With Camp Invention Director Peggy Bohlin

When Peggy Bohlin first learned about Camp Invention® in 2003 at a booth during an education conference, she knew it was an opportunity she wanted to bring to her community of Roswell, New Mexico.

“I can picture it now,” Bohlin said in an interview with the National Inventors Hall of Fame®. “I asked how I could get this camp down in Roswell and the representative said we’d first need to find a Director.”

According to Bohlin, at the time, Roswell did not have any hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) camps. Because she wanted to give her two sons the chance to benefit from this type of program, she, on the spot, decided to become a Camp Invention Director.


Happy Campers

Fast forward to today, and Bohlin has since directed Camp Invention for a combined 15 years, and in the process has transformed the Roswell camp into one of the longest running and most impactful locations in the country.

In fact, with 146 campers and nine Leaders-in-Training during the summer of 2023, the camp has never been larger.

Bohlin attributes this impressive growth in large part to the generosity of her community. Along with assistance from the Nusenda Credit Union Foundation, the Roswell community helped Bohlin raise over $10,000 to provide camp scholarships. This support is crucial in ensuring as many children as possible can attend the program.

Bohlin also takes a hands-on approach to promoting the camp. She appears on local TV and radio stations to share highlights of each summer’s all-new program, and she even makes calls to Camp Invention alumni families to see if they would be interested in signing up again.

“Two weeks before camp began, I called every single person from three years prior who was not on my roster to try to get them to come to camp,” she said. “So my camp grows for a reason.”

Bohlin remains dedicated because she believes in the impact of Camp Invention, year after year.

“I continue doing it because I like how happy the kids are at camp, and their parents are so excited too,” said Bohlin.

After her 2023 Camp Invention program, Bohlin recalls one parent who called and thanked her for the scholarship that allowed her son to attend. The parent also shared that her son had been sleeping with the MimicBot he made at camp, and with its ability to record and mimic audio, the robot had started snoring along with her son one night.

“I reassured her that the batteries could be removed,” she said.


A Spirit of Creativity and Imagination

Bohlin’s dedication to education was rewarded in May 2023, when she was one of 100 teachers selected out of 7,900 to take part in Disney’s Imagination Campus Celebration.

According to a Walt Disney Co. press release, the teachers who were selected “demonstrated the spirit of creativity and imagination in their classrooms to inspire students and play a key role in shaping the minds of America’s future leaders.”

In her application essay, Bohlin, who comes from a family of teachers, wrote about her passion as a space educator. For many years she has been a teacher liaison with the Space Foundation, Aerospace Connections in Education teacher, a volunteer Solar System Ambassador, Space Station Ambassador and has presented at the Space Exploration Educators Conference and other workshops.

“Not thinking I had a snowball’s chance, I got the notification,” she said. “My youngest son, who is now a teacher, went with me [to Disney].”

Bohlin enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of the park, participated in workshops led by Disney leaders and Imagineers as part of the Imagination Campus, and rode in the Omnibus in an honorary parade.

“They paid for everything, and I felt very honored,” she said. “It was phenomenal.”


Jump on the Bandwagon

When asked what she would say to other educators who are considering becoming a Camp Invention Director or bringing the program to their district, Bohlin explained the program is worthwhile because of the valuable skills it develops.

“I would say definitely jump on the bandwagon because Camp Invention is an opportunity that kids need, that provides the kind of hands-on, innovative and team-building opportunities for children who otherwise might not get that chance.”

While Bohlin admits she puts a lot of effort into being a Camp Invention Director, the continuous improvements made by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, combined with the all-new program experiences available each summer, keep her coming back as does the satisfaction of knowing she’ll continue making a difference in her community.

“If you become a Director, you need to realize that you’re potentially influencing the lives of hundreds of people,” Bohlin said.


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