Last week the boys and I spent 6 days in Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington D.C.
Six months prior Rusty approached us about a summer computer programing camp being offered at George Mason University. He expressed an interest in attending and presented his plan for earning the money to finance it. The camp was a 3D game design course for high school students. We were shocked and pleased to see Rusty choosing to step outside his comfort zone in the pursuit of learning more about a potential future path despite his anxiety of signing up to attend a camp where he knew no one and would be asked to do things like present projects before a large group of peers. This was HUGE for Rusty who is much more comfortable remaining quietly behind the scenes, so we wanted to encourage this courageous pursuit and made plans to sign him up. I was so thrilled to see him doing something that 10 years ago I thought would have been an impossibility when he was struggling with Selective Mutism, that I would have gladly given the go ahead regardless of what the theme of the week-long camp was. It could have been underwater basket weaving and I would have been just as thrilled. For this momma, this was a character/courage building endeavor that just happened to be labeled a technology camp.
Tyler and Ozzie tagged along for the week.
It has been a busy summer, filled with many life changing, character building, growing experiences for all my kids. Most of those experiences revolved around the oldest three so I thought this trip would be a nice opportunity for some special one-on-one connection with my two youngest.
My plan was to use the hours during the day when Rusty was at camp to focus on connection between the littles and myself and connection between Ozzie and Tyler.
We decided to camp for the week. Initially the plan was to “tent it” but when I discovered that I could rent a rustic cabin at Pohick Bay campground for not much more than a tent site I thought it would be worth the additional expense…
Boy, what a good call that was!
Our week in Virginia was a wet one! A low pressure system settle over the area for days, and the rains came down and the floods came up, and I was grateful for a cabin to entertain my boys in rather than trying to keep everyone dry and happy in a six man tent!
It made a perfect home base for the week. It was small and simple but offered a bed for everyone, a table to sit at out of the rain, a small front porch with a swing, and a microwave/mini fridge…
And air conditioning!!
When the clouds would part we managed to fit in fun at the campground, including but not limited to:
Taking advantage of the playground to run off some pent up energy,
Playing a round of mini golf at the campground,
Hiking around the lake,
And spending time outside, around the campfire.
We even had a evening when the rain cleared for a few hours and we were able to take advantage of Pirate’s Cove Water Park at the campground. This mini waterpark include a large pool and play area, two water slides, and a “beach” area.
For $4.00/person it was a great deal!
When the rains made it impossible to go outside we enjoyed hours of board games and puzzles in the cabin.
Every evening when Rusty returned home after a fun day of game development he would fill us in on all that he did and all that he learned that day. We would also receive daily emails from Envision with an update of what happened at camp that day and photos of Rusty’s adventures:
“The Envision Game & Technology Academy, powered by George Mason University, is about to kick off, and we couldn’t be more excited to have Rusty with us. It’s going to be an amazing five days of experience, leadership development, and self-discovery for Rusty and his peers!
Over the course of the week, Rusty will work with George Mason University faculty and students to produce a project, work with his peers to design and test their work, and share their creations with others for feedback. They will learn in-depth skills to help them plan their path in the game design field, and make connections with others with similar interests.
To kick off the program, Rusty and his fellow students will meet with their primary instructors from George Mason University, who will guide them through the intensive curriculum. Patrick will meet his team of peers and gain insight into the week’s projects.”
“Rusty will waste no time getting immersed in the exciting Envision Game & Technology Academy curriculum! In his Multi-Platform 3D Game Design course, Rusty will learn about the principles that go into the development of 3D tabletop games. Today’s work will focus on game engines, as well as what is involved in developing characters and environments for 3D games.”
“Today’s Multi-Platform 3D Game Design course activities will focus on game production, and Rusty will spend the day getting hands-on with the Unity 2 and Unreal game engines. He and the other students will also get an insider’s look at the computer game design industry, including how to build an effective, connected team—skills that will serve Rusty well in the future!”
“Rusty will continue his exploration into the exciting world of Multi-Platform 3D Game Design by working on his game, including designing levels, building terrains and character skins, and creating lighting and shadow effects. By the end of the day, his project should really be coming together—be sure to ask him about the work he is doing!”
Rusty had a wonderful week. He returned home to the cabin each evening eager to share all that he learned that day. His days were filled with team building projects, presentations by guest speakers who are employed by various gaming companies, and hands on work as the students learned how to navigate various programs and learned how to develop and create their own 3D computer game from the ground up.
Meanwhile, Tyler, Ozzie and I created our own memories as we explored the area around Washington D.C. with local daytrips while Rusty was at camp.
Stay tuned for those adventures…