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Behind the NIHF Scenes

Behind the Scenes at Vanguard

To ensure each year’s all-new Camp Invention® K-6 summer camp program is both engaging and easy to implement, the National Inventors Hall of Fame®education team travels to schools across the country to pilot new ideas in a process we call Vanguard. By testing our hands-on curricula and materials and learning from children’s and educators’ feedback, our team develops the best possible camp experiences.

Throughout Camp Invention’s more than 30-year history, we have been fortunate to partner with dedicated educators who make the Vanguard process possible. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with two of these exceptional educators about their camp experiences. Read on for our interview with mother-daughter team Jeanne and Kara Segler, Director and Assistant Director of the Camp Invention Vanguard program at Ohio’s Toledo Christian.

National Inventors Hall of Fame: How long have you been involved with National Inventors Hall of Fame education programs?

Jeanne Segler: As a school, we brought the [Camp Invention] program in starting in 2003, and I inherited the Director position starting in 2006.

Kara Segler: That’s also when I started helping out as a counselor (known today as a Leadership Intern). I did that through high school, and then once I entered college, I began assisting my mother and have been doing that ever since.

Jeanne Segler: We really function as Co-Directors – we divide and conquer, and it works really well.

Kara Segler: Because we have over a hundred campers this year, it’s important that things work logistically and that the Instructors feel supported.

National Inventors Hall of Fame: Could you both speak a little about the Vanguard process from your perspective?

Jeanne Segler: I’m very careful with who I recruit because the educators at Vanguard need to be flexible and think on their feet. They have to be like a chameleon and change colors depending on what challenges come their way.

Kara Segler: It’s a beautiful process to watch because they’re learning skills they can use in their teaching. I taught Vanguard for a few years and I realized, “Oh, I’m gleaning these things that I can use in my own classroom” – to not be so rigid and be willing to try new things. It reminds you of what education should be, and sometimes you can get in a box and forget.

Jeanne Segler: It’s fascinating to observe the whole creative process right there in front of you, and listening to the conversations the curriculum writers have with those who are purchasing the materials. It really is an honor and a privilege to be a part of this magnificent organization that’s transforming our children and our nation.

National Inventors Hall of Fame: What would you tell an educator who might be interested in bringing Camp Invention to their school?

Jeanne Segler: In my opinion, there is nothing more valuable and educational that a child could do with their summer than to spend it at Camp Invention. It’s worth every bit of investment and it is crucial to the cognitive and emotional development of those who attend.

Kara Segler: Camp Invention is important because children develop multiple skills – it’s not just engineering and technology. Students are also learning how to communicate and collaborate with each other. As a teacher, those skills are difficult to teach. Here, they have to learn how to work together.

Jeanne Segler: For children, their language is play and fun. If you speak their imagination language and combine it with learning how to problem solve and how to design and create, they are no longer afraid of pursing their ideas.

National Inventors Hall of Fame: Thank you both so much for everything you do – for your impact on our program and ultimately on the children you teach.

Kara Segler: That’s what motivates us.

Jeanne Segler: That’s the cool thing for us – throwing that pebble into the pond and knowing that the ripples will go on forever.


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To learn more about Camp Invention and other National Inventors Hall of Fame education programs, please visit our website.

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