Each summer, Camp Invention® sparks curiosity in young learners across the country through hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) experiences. We recently had the chance to catch up with Mya Sewell, once an exuberant Camp Invention participant herself who recently returned as a Leadership Intern. This volunteer program for high school and college students is a unique opportunity to empower young campers to make their ideas a reality while developing leadership skills for their future.
Finding Inspiration and Building Skills at Camp Invention
Mya, now 16, first attended Camp Invention in 2013 when she was just 6 years old. After her first year, she went on to attend every year she was eligible, from first to sixth grade. When asked about what the experience meant to her, Mya fondly recalled each year feeling like a sort of homecoming. “It was very comforting to be able to build and test my ideas with people that I know value STEM aspects of life like I did – and do still,” she shared in an interview with the National Inventors Hall of Fame®. “It was more than just answering questions on a problem sheet, which is what we were typically doing in school at the time.”
As both kids and educators will attest, Camp Invention ignites a love of learning and fosters the most exciting parts of knowledge and discovery. The experience unlocks both the creative nature and potential of children, as it did for Mya. While she and her family believe she gained so much from the experience as a camper, she also recounts the value of changing perspectives and volunteering as a young leader.
“As a Leadership Intern, it was nice to be on the opposite end of the learning experience,” said Mya. She explained that the role gave her a sense of what it’s like to be a teacher, having the ability to see how kids’ minds work and observe how each one interprets things differently. “It was very eye-opening. It was a full circle moment for me.”
Connecting With Real-World Role Models
In the midst of her years attending Camp Invention, Mya also won the opportunity to attend the 2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Washington, D.C., where she met some of the influential inventors whose lives and stories inspired the very camp programs she attended. Among the National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees she met were JD Albert, Iver Anderson, Carolyn Bertozzi and Frances Ligler, each one revolutionary in their fields.
That has been an essential and timeless piece of advice. Asking questions will not only take you very far in school, but in life in general. You have to ask questions if you want to make a big purchase, make impactful decisions or foster quality relationships. It’s a key aspect of life.
“I remember JD Albert telling me to never be afraid to ask questions,” Mya recollected. “That has been an essential and timeless piece of advice. Asking questions will not only take you very far in school, but in life in general. You have to ask questions if you want to make a big purchase, make impactful decisions or foster quality relationships. It’s a key aspect of life.”
Even from a young age, the connections Mya has made with world-changing inventors, from experiencing their lessons at Camp Invention to meeting them face to face, have deeply impacted her journey with STEM.
Looking Ahead to a Bright Future
Mya, now entering her junior year of high school, looks forward to what her future holds. Channeling the spirit of the enthusiastic young camper she once was, she sees a world ahead to explore. When asked about her career aspirations, she stated, “There are a lot of ideas, and I have a lot of options, which I like.” With a passion for making jewelry, she is combining her artistic interests and talents with her excitement for STEM subjects. Taking pride in her work, whether it be acing an advanced placement physics test or creating something new, Mya believes in the importance of setting goals and being persistent enough to achieve them. “I’ve always liked the satisfaction I get when I make my own things, and when what I make turns out good.”
Mya plans to stay connected to Camp Invention as a Leadership Intern, helping kids bring their ideas to life and learn early on that they can make a difference by helping invent a better tomorrow. When asked what advice she would give to future campers, her response encourages reaching for the stars – “Do not limit yourself. Limiting yourself is the fastest way to not achieve something you want.”
Do You Have a Camp Invention Story of Your Own?
Did Camp Invention have a profound impact on your child? We would love to hear their story! Share it with us here.