HISD’s Camp Spark prepares students, families for virtual learning

Alberto Varona, a rising ninth-grader from DeBakey High School for Health Professions, has dreams of pursuing a career in science, and after one week at HISD’s all-virtual Camp Spark, those dreams are stronger than ever.

“One day, I have dreams of creating medicine that will help people,” he said. “Camp Spark has really encouraged me to pursue those dreams.” 

The two-week camp, which is offered to students in grades pre-K through 12 and provided at no cost, is designed to get students re-engaged as the district prepares for online learning, and provides online lessons that focus on physical fitness, science, literacy, math, internet safety, technology and art.

The second day of Camp Spark was by far the best day for Alberto’s sister Dayanara, a rising seventh-grader at Baylor College of Medicine at Ryan, who took part in the Skins and Skulls lesson from the Texas Wildlife Association

“I want to be a veterinarian,” she said, “It was so cool to see the all the different animal skulls.”

For Alberto’s mother, Montse Gonzalez, whose youngest son Jacob, a kindergartener at Wharton Dual Language Academy, is also participating in Camp Spark, it has helped her prepare for the upcoming school year.

“No doubt that online learning is going to be a challenge for us,” she said. “But, this experience with Camp Spark has been a good practice run for when virtual learning starts in September.”

During the camp, students are involved in an array of age-appropriate experiences with Camp Spark partners including the Houston Public Library, Children’s Museum Houston, The Houston Dynamo and Dash, and Comp-U-Dopt. New ninth-graders, like Alberto, are taking part in a boot camp to prepare them for high school, which he has found extremely helpful.

“Online learning was very tough in the spring,” he said. “So far, at Camp Spark, I have learned some new digital skills, like how to use Word and Excel, that will help me when school starts.”

Camp Spark is free for all students. Registration is not required, and students can login and join at any time. For more information about the camp, visit HoustonISD.org/CampSpark.