by Marilyn Anthony
The hacktory’s staff believes that the best way to understand things is by “repurposing, decoupling, breaking and rearranging them from their intended use.” It’s fitting that the Hacktory Summer Camp is a “do-ocracy,” repurposing “democracy” just as the West Philadelphia nonprofit organization created its name by melding “hack” and “factory.”
There’s more than lofty wordplay to this program, which offers full-day, weeklong sessions through the month of August for rising third- through fifth-grade students.
Executive Director Georgia Guthrie keeps fun at the center of morning STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) projects and encourages afternoon free play at Smith Playground. “Our main goal is that participants have fun so they want to keep learning,” says Guthrie. The classes are small, enabling students to ask questions and pursue individual interests while receiving ample instructor assistance.
The ideal camper for The Hacktory comes equipped with a desire to make things, use tools and discover how things work. No previous experience is necessary. Camp instructors introduce skills ranging from sewing and drawing to simple machine operation.
Campers come from around the region, and some financial assistance is available. The combination of structured morning projects with afternoons spent playing outside creates many opportunities to form new friendships. Guthrie’s goal is to send campers home with “enthusiasm to keep learning and building their own projects… and a sense that it is possible to make objects that are functional, useful and show their own personality.” The very attitude every do-ocracy needs.
Address: 3645-7 Lancaster Ave., Floor 1, Philadelphia, Pa.