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News: Make Camp at Roane State Cumberland Business Incubator encourages creativity

News: Make Camp at Roane State Cumberland Business Incubator encourages creativity

Camper Austin Tabor, right, hands a component used in making a nightlight to Make Camp volunteer Tom McDunn during the 4th annual camp held at Roane State's Cumberland Business Incubator.

June 30, 2017

By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. – It’s called “Make Camp” because that’s what these youngsters do: make all sorts of things using computers and sophisticated equipment inside Roane State’s Cumberland Business Incubator (CBI) building.

Held for a week each summer and now in its fourth year, Make Camp gives area children the opportunity to expand their imaginations and explore possible careers, says Holly Hanson, director of the college’s Cumberland County campus and the CBI.

Campers use the equipment to create items ranging from plastic figurines on 3D printers to handwoven bracelets, from homemade LED nightlights – a fun lesson in circuitry – to personal business cards.

“I love the environment here,” said camp volunteer Lydia Harris, who just completed her freshman year at the college’s Crossville campus. “I wish I had it when I was younger,” she said of Make Camp. “It’s very educational.”

Camper Joshua Brown, 11, proudly displayed a cigar box he painted and then used a laser cutter to engrave the Georgia Tech logo onto it. It’s a going-away present – a trinket box - for his sister, Jasmine, who begins her collegiate career at the Georgia institute soon. “I love building stuff,” Joshua said.

Make Camp is Hanson’s brainchild. Four years ago, she won a highly competitive $50,000 Small Business Administration grant for equipment for the CBI Maker Space.

That part of the building contains the tools entrepreneurs need to develop prototypes. There’s a woodworking shop, a laser cutter, an embroidery machine, an electronics bench, vinyl cutter, 3D printer and a computer-aided drafting design area, among other equipment.

Area residents can join the Maker Space program and learn from experts how to operate the machinery and hone their skills.

For a week each summer, it’s the site of Make Camp, where participants under the watchful eyes of 10 to 15 volunteers can design and create a variety of often whimsical items.

Each year, the list of projects to make is different, Hanson said, and that’s why some campers come back year after year.


Make Camp participants, from left, Candace Elmore, Kaitlyn Salta and Austin Tabor team up to work on part of a nightlight they created during the weeklong camp, held at Roane State's Cumberland Business Incubator.

This year, campers planted various succulents, or water storage plants, inside boxes topped by picture frames that can be displayed on walls as living works of art.

Activities, both indoors and outside, vary daily. Parents come on the final day to admire their child’s handiworks.

The camp is very popular. Registration is held in April, and all 16 slots were filled within two days, Hanson said. The camp is limited to that number of participants to ensure adequate supervision, she said, and campers must follow safety rules.​

Learn more about programs at the Cumberland County campus.

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