A Chat with Summer Intern De-Veia Brown
If we were to ask ten people on the street what “civics” means, we’d get back ten unique answers. We are all familiar with the term, but what does it really mean?
Civics emphasizes the role of the citizen – our rights, responsibilities, and duties. How the term is further defined depends on who you are talking to. It’s important to recognize that civics can have multiple meanings, because how we define it affects the way it is taught and what shape it takes in our communities and democracy.
At Morven Park’s Center for Civic Impact, we build our definition around the actions of civics – sharing your voice, examining issues, taking responsibility for your choices, and making an impact on your community and democracy. But, even amongst our team here we each explain our work a little differently, and we want to share those perspectives in a series called “Talks with the Team: What Does Civics Mean to You?”
This contributing post comes from our summer intern De-Veia Brown who helped lead three week-long summer KaMP (Kids at Morven Park) sessions for elementary aged students in July 2015.
The Kids at Morven Park (KaMP) summer camps are nature-based, but the theme of civics is apparent in every activity. I watched the campers (aged 6 through 11) interact with the environment during three different week-long KaMP sessions.
They participated in trail walks, had lessons with guest teachers, and spent time in the gardens at Turkey Hill Farm. It was during these activities that I witnessed not only a willingness in the children to learn about nature through the different activities provided by Morven Park, but also an excitement to learn how they could be engaged citizens – or stewards – in their environment at home:
- The naturalists from Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy taught the children how to care for bluebird habitats and how they could become involved in the process of saving our declining bluebird population.
- The Sweet Virginia Honey Bee teachers educated the children about honeybees but also brought up the importance of bees to our environment and world at large and how they could grow flowers at home to help bees be effective pollinators.
- And when the campers were at Morven Park’s Turkey Hill Farm, they not only helped to weed and plant in the garden but also harvested several pounds of vegetables that were then donated to a center that helped feed families in the Loudoun County area. The garden was one of the most visible and tactile examples for the campers in my opinion because it incorporated civics, science, and nature together in equal measures.
Throughout the KaMP sessions the campers learned about topics they would likely encounter in school, but also about how civics, and being an engaged citizen, was a thread that could tie each of these topics together.