Calculus Camp


Both of my children have attended beautiful Camp Lake Stephens 

The other day my 9-year-old and I were sitting at lunch when he broke into a new song replete with arm motions.  He had just returned from sleepover camp, so I asked the logical question, “Did you learn that at camp?”  He replied (with a slight eye-roll he has picked up from our 14-year-old), “We performed it at the Talent Show.”

Me:  Talent Show?  But you were only there for a week!

Him:  Yep.  We always do a Talent Show.

Me:  Wait!  We do a Talent Show every year at the end of the AP Reading too!  But we know we don’t have much talent so we changed the name a while back  to “Closing Show”.  I didn’t perform this year because my song was only half-finished. Maybe next year.

More eye-roll.

It doesn’t take much to get me thinking, so I began jotting down all of the similarities between the week-long AP Calculus Reading and summer camp.

  1. Pre-Camp.  This is the time that leaders are there getting everything organized and mentally preparing for the session.  It’s also when meals are quiet and you get to spend quality time with friends you’ve known for years but only see annually.  At summer camp the counselors put the boats in the water, clean the cabins, and meet on what it means to be a responsible adult in a sea of kiddos.  At the reading, leaders look at thousands of student papers to best prepare the readers for their task and meet on how to do this.
  2. Arrival/Departure.  Everyone arrives on the same day and has to go through long check-in lines.  Everyone departs on the same day, unless you get really sick; then you go home early.
  3. Hierarchical Structure.  Here are some equivalencies:  Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 6.34.44 AM
  4. Opening Session.  This is the big meeting on the first morning to welcome everyone and to be silly and to begin to indoctrinate all of the participants into the procedures and lingo.
  5. Lingo.  Tons of it.  You learn it through osmosis.  Some Calculus Camp Lingo includes:  Bald Answer; Decimal Presentation Error; and Keep the Books in Order.
  6. T-shirts.  There’s a new one every year and if you’ve been around a while, you wouldn’t be caught dead in this year’s t-shirt… You only wear old t-shirts that are > 5 years old.
  7. Schedule.  Summer Camp:  Up early, Breakfast, Activity, Snack, Activity, Lunch, Activity, Snack, Activity, Dinner, Activity, Bed early.  Calculus Camp:  Exactly the same except for Bed NOT early.
  8. Days Off.  Nope.  But if you are a “camper”, you probably don’t care.  It’s one continuous hang out session with your friends.  If you are in “leadership”, you also don’t care because you love it so much.
  9. Talent Show.  A lot of the (highly anticipated) same acts every year along with a few new ones.
  10. Going home.  Hugs and tears and “See you next summer”.  Unless you hate it and convince your parents / partner to let you do something else.

To see if you’d like to be an AP Reader, click here.


View from the 35th floor of the Sheraton Hotel (where a good many calculus folks are housed).  If you look closely, you can see the 4 spires of the Convention Center (where the Reading occurs) on the top left.