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Kids@Carroll: 20 Years of the Coolest Summer Camps in the County!

Historic Summer Kids Carroll Community College

Summer 2024 marks the 20th anniversary of Summer! Kids@Carroll. Since 2004, Carroll’s popular summer camp program has introduced a generation of young people to the College and its offerings. Many of them went on to become credit and workforce training students at Carroll, as well as camp employees and instructors.

Indeed, Kids@Carroll summer camps have provided more than just fun learning opportunities over the summer; for hundreds of campers, it has laid the foundation for successful pathways to their future educational and vocational pursuits.

Creating Summer! Kids@Carroll

Someone who knows all about the impact Kids@Carroll has had over the years is Sally Long, who left an indelible mark on Carroll Community College when she established Kids@Carroll, as well as Teen College a short time later.

Historic Summer Kids Staff Carroll Community College
Sally Long, back left, established Kids@Carroll

Across three decades working at community colleges, including managing roles at Wor-Wic Community College, Sally honed her expertise as a program innovator and coordinator. However, it was her transition to focusing on Personal Enrichment at Carroll that set the stage for her groundbreaking work.

Drawing from her background at Wor-Wic as well as her prior role as a children’s librarian, she envisioned a program that would fill a crucial gap in the community: offering enriching experiences for local kids who might not have access to other such programs. Thus Kids@Carroll was born, emphasizing half-day camps designed to blend learning and fun for the County’s youth.

“The goals of the summer camps were simple,” Sally explained. “To provide a summer enrichment experience at the College in a variety of interest areas that were active and hands-on, challenging, engaging, safe and fun. Although camp topics and systems changed over the years, our commitment to those goals has held.”

Under Sally’s guidance, the program saw exponential growth. What began with a handful of science camps and 50 participants in 2004 burgeoned into more than 100 camps with over 1,500 participants by the time she retired in 2015. The ripple effect of her leadership is evident as these programs continue to evolve under new leaders, each contributing their own unique touch while staying true to the core values Sally instilled.

Her ethos of empowering individuals, fostering creativity and creating engaging environments for kids has left an enduring legacy at the College. Indeed, the current Kids@Carroll summer camp program still bears testimony to her vision, innovation and unwavering commitment to providing exceptional educational experiences.

A Home Away from Home

One person who is carrying on the torch for Kids@Carroll is Sherry Fisher. Prior to working with Kids@Carroll, Sherry had been a naturalist and educator, specializing in nature and conservation programs featuring live animals and hands-on experiences. In 2012, acting on a referral from an acquaintance, she met with Sally Long, who then hired her for Kids@Carroll. She has been a camp instructor for the program ever since.

Historic Summer Kids Sherry Fisher Carroll Community College
Sherry Fisher (left), Kids@Carroll instructor

“All of the summer camps I teach are nature based,” Sherry said. “I have taught Nature Detectives, which teaches children to use all their senses to discover nature. We also explore animals and their special senses. I also teach Big Backyard, which explores all the nature you may encounter in your backyard or neighborhood. The most popular camp I teach is Walk on the Wild Side, featuring different animals each day as we move through the animal kingdom. All my camps feature outdoor exploration, live animal encounters and field trips.”

Five years ago, Sherry had moved to southwest Florida to be closer to her family. After Hurricane Ian destroyed part of her home and her place of work in 2022, she returned to Maryland and again taught camps the following summer. After the camp season was over, she returned to Florida, but found the experience at Carroll so enjoyable that she continues to come back to Maryland for 2–3 weeks each year to lead Kids@Carroll summer camps.

“What I most like is the freedom to teach our camps in the way we know is best for our subject matter,” Sherry said. “We are well supported by staff and volunteers, and have the resources we need to run awesome camps. Carroll Community College always makes me feel at home!”

From Kids@Carroll to Student at Carroll

Of course, the people who benefit most from Kids@Carroll are the campers. Not only do they receive high quality active learning opportunities that help them stay mentally sharp during the summer—preventing “summer slide” when they return to school—it also gives them a wonderful introduction to Carroll Community College.

“I really liked all the fun activities,” recalls Jack Sipe, now a Digital Design and Fabrication program student at Carroll. “I did some really cool science experiments in one class and even made a stop-motion film with friends using LEGOs.” In addition to the “fond memories” he made at Kids@Carroll, taking summer camps also familiarized him with the campus, something that proved useful when he attended Carroll years later.

“When I took [Kids@Carroll camp] ‘Photograph Like A Pro,’ I enjoyed going around the College’s campus and taking photos,” Finn McCann remembers. “Since I did the summer camp, I knew Carroll’s campus and how nice of a place Carroll is.” This positive early experience had influenced McCann to enroll in Carroll’s Cybersecurity program after high school.

“This year, over 40% of former campers have taken a credit or workforce class here [at Carroll],” said Cassandra Casey, Coordinator of Summer! Kids@Carroll + Teen College since 2016. “I love walking through the Café on campus during the school year and seeing our past campers as college students. Since the beginning, Kids@Carroll has focused on having so much fun, we can forget we are also learning. We hope that fun carries kids into the next stage and the next for their whole lives!”

As Summer! Kids@Carroll celebrates its remarkable 20-year milestone, we pay tribute to not only the fun learning opportunities it has brought to countless young minds in the community each summer, but to its enduring legacy of empowerment and inspiration that continues to resonate with them long after. We look forward to another two decades of shaping bright futures and creating great memories for kids and teens at Carroll Community College.

The Coolest Camps for Kids!

With almost 200 half- and full-day programs to choose from, Kids@Carroll + Teen College summer camps have engaged thousands of children in fun active learning opportunities.