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DIG Dreamers receive dose of STEMM at summer camp


The Dreams, Imagination, and Gift (DIG) Development Program celebrated another successful year of summer camp on June 27.

This year the theme was STEMM; science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine. DIG Dreamers, or campers, spent four weeks learning about different aspects of each field from their teachers and guest experts. 

“We saw that the medical field serves as a part of science, but was overshadowed by the engineering and tech emphasis on STEM,” said DIG founder Steven Brown. “We realized that the medical field is a growing STEM field and it needed to be highlighted with its own letter. We have been working with AHEC, MUSC and other medical groups to bring awareness to existing resources throughout the region and collectively work together through DIG to build a pipeline into the medical workforce.”

Parents and guardians were welcomed to Winfield Heights Baptist Church auditorium where the summer camp is based to hear about what their Dreamers learned. 

Masters of Ceremony Christian Mack and Kristen Smith guided the ceremony through speeches, presentations, and exhibitions of dance.

Mack first presented a speech on what DIG means to him, as a returning Dreamer, and Smith broke down the STEMM acronym and explained about what they learned each week. 

“In the first week of DIG, we studied science. One of the topics I learned was weather,” said Smith. “I learned how hurricanes and what temperature the water has to be for a hurricane to occur.” 

Week one also included topics like how DNA is made. During week two, Dreamers learned how technology has advanced over the years and how to wire a circuit. They even were able to connect their circuits to robots to see how the energy flowed. 

“In my opinion, I think technology was the best week in DIG because it was very fun building robots with all your friends,” said Smith.

Additionally during the technology week, Dreamers learned about matter, force, and motion. 

During the engineering week, Dreamers learned the mechanics of machines; how they operate and how to make them. 

Science teacher and DIG instructor Jaleel Hammonds had first through fourth grade Dreamers creating and demonstrating how wells are constructed including the five stages of aqua-tech well filtration and softening for purified, clean drinking water. 

“We had to challenge ourselves,” said Hammonds. “I had a great time with my little ones.” 

The fourth week covered mathematics and medicine, and taught Dreamer’s new words and introduced them to career paths such as biomedical engineering. Smith explained she had never heard of this practice before summer camp. 

DIG Dreamers did not step down when the challenge and opportunity of learning new information presented itself. 

“My favorite thing is their willingness to challenge themselves. They make learning fun for them. Watching them engage in the STEMM enrichment is full of laughter, fun competitiveness and peer to peer encouragement,” said Brown. 

During the last week, Dreamer’s also had the opportunity to become CPR certified and Stop The Bleed certified. They also learned from a certified physical therapist about the importance of stretching their bodies.

Although these were the predominant topics woven into learning at the camp, students also worked with teacher Latoya McGriff, of Ms. Unicorn, to prevent a summer slide in reading– a common occurrence in students whose academic skills regress during summer months. 

Ms. Unicorn taught students about similes and metaphors to create poems. At the end of year celebration, the poets read their poems aloud to the audience who responded with snaps rather than claps to create a speakeasy style setting. 

Fourth grade Dreamers each read a poem about their hair; how it feels, how it looks, and what it means to them. 

A vital part of DIG’s summer camp are the students who have aged out of the program, but return to serve as Dream Leaders. 

DIG coordinator and teacher Charlette Epps thanked the Dream Leaders for coming back to “give your time to what once gave to you,” she said. 

Hailey O’Neal thanked her fellow Dream Leaders and presented a speech on their behalf. 

“The program has taught us the value of hard work, integrity, and the significance of making a difference in the workplace,” said O’Neal. “Through meaningful conversations with mentors…we have found a sense of home and support.” 

DIG has equipped them with leadership skills, encouraged them to step out of their comfort zone, and “instilled in us the belief that no dream is too big to achieve,” said O’Neal, who finds DIG helped shape her into who she is today. 

DIG summer camp was enriched even further with help from community partners like the Barnwell County Sheriff's Office with law enforcement Q&A’s, SRP Bank teaching financial literacy lessons, lunch from Windmill Farms, and STEM activities from University of S.C. Salkehatchie. 

“We always end each camp season with an eye toward the future and the excitement that lies ahead, but I think it’s also important to take a moment to consider the specific joys of the past four weeks,” said program director Shon Crawford. “As I pause to reflect on it all, my heart is full of gratitude for our staff, for our Dreamers and for our Dreamer parents and guardians who have entrusted your children to us.”

During the ceremony, Dreamers were awarded for excelling throughout the program shown in their pre and post assessments. 

According to Brown, students are given these assessments based on the grade level they are entering in the upcoming school year. Overall, DIG instructors saw an average increase of 13 points on these tests. 

Students are always a little discouraged at first glance of the test because most of the material they haven’t learned yet,” said Brown. “We encourage them by telling them that it's ok if they don’t know it, but our goal is to teach them this summer. We motivate them by telling them how much more prepared they will be when school starts. Students saw this as a ‘flex,’ or opportunity, as the youth like to say, and are then optimistic.”

Now that the camp season has come to a close, registration is now open for DIG After School Programs in Allendale, Barnwell, and Williston schools. 

For more information about all DIG offers to local learners, visit