Taste of Camp Quest NorthWest: Success!

For Science!

Last weekend, 60 parents and kids came out to Cottage Lake Park for our very first event: the Taste of Camp Quest! It was great fun, and we had a great time getting to know each other. I’ve got to say, the highlight of this event was the kids. These kids are some of the smartest and most attentive bunch I’ve met. I can’t wait to get to know them better.

By all accounts, everyone had a great time and many campers and parents left eager to register for next year’s camp. We’ll hold another Taste on Nov. 19 and hope to see everyone back again, with friends.

The focus of Camp Quest is on science and critical thinking, and at the Taste we wanted to give the flavor of an actual camp. We broke into two groups, ages 8-17 and ages 0-7, and some of the more fun, science-based activities from the Camp Quest repertoire. Click “Continue Reading” to see some of the activities and experiments we did.

Mentos Volcanoes and Dry Ice Ice Cream

Brennon Church had an energetic program planned that kept the kids moving and thinking through most of the event.

The first event, Mentos and Diet Coke, was a sure hit. After explaining the science behind the fast release of the pressurized carbon dioxide, the plan was to use special magnets Brennon had developed to safely trigger the cokes from behind. No plan meets the real world intact, however, and the magnets didn’t quite work as expected, so the kids had the thrill of running up, dropping the mentos in and hightailing it out of there before the eruption! After 19 bottles (and a few facefuls) of diet coke went up like fireworks, the kids were itching for more.

Self-Service Ice Cream

After this, the kids all made ice cream in ziploc bags (with dry ice for the older kids), using the trick of salt to cool the mixture down to ice cream temperature without the need for a freezer. The pavilion was a thundercloud of shaking ice cream as everyone mixed their ingredients into shape, passing the bags from hand to hand and person to person so as not to get themselves too cold.


After that was the main event: 10 gallons of oobleck! Oobleck is a non-newtonian fluid that looks and runs like water, until you apply pressure, at which point it’s hard as a rock (it can even shatter). The kids got to punch it and stick their hands in. You can toss it back and forth like a baseball and then, when you stop playing catch, it dribbles through your fingers again.

Ooblek Prep

The most vivid part, that really got the kids talking, was when we poured the ooblek into a large container and let the kids jump on it. You heard me, you can run on this stuff like it’s concrete. But don’t stop … or you’ll sink right in. Several kids did. That stuff’s like quicksand when you’re stuck in it, too!

Ooblek is something you have to see, and touch, and jump on, and sink into, to really understand. Luckily, we have plenty more ingredients and will bring it out again at a future event.

Socrates Cafe

Chuck Wolber, who was recently a counselor at Camp Quest Ohio, took over with our first look at Socrates Cafe. The older kids gathered around a picnic table, chose a topic (“what is life?”) and debated back and forth over what they thought was important about life. The kids had some really deep thoughts–stuff I wasn’t thinking about when I was 12. The discussion meandered across evolution, biology, and even computer software and hardware (are machines alive?). I can’t wait to see what they come up with when they’ve got a whole week of peace and quiet in nature.

One thing we learned: we need a no Wikipedia rule at the Socrates Cafe when we’re at a Taste 🙂 Having an Answer makes it harder to explore the more interesting Questions. At Camp, of course, there’s no Internet allowed, period.

Camp Quest NorthWest Jr.

Entranced by Science

In parallel, Mary Keiser prepared a whole lineup of stimulating, hands-on science activities for the 2-6 year olds, which we gather is unique among Camp Quests. Before this weekend we worried that, like most kids that age, they would get bored after an activity or two and go off and climb around for a long while (nothing wrong with that). Boy were we surprised! Never have I seen that many 3-6 year olds pay such rapt attention!

It’s a good thing Mary had extra activites planned for them: the kids were entranced with science. After making baggie ice cream (who doesn’t like homemade ice cream?), the second activity was to make playdough from scratch. This devious plan kept the kids’ tactile senses engaged and focused through the next two activities. Next, Mary showed them baking soda bubbles, a really cool visual display of density, where air bubbles float on a layer of carbon dioxide.

Dancing Raisins

The dancing raisins topped it all off: the kids dropped raisins into a bowl of soda water and watched as the escaping carbon bubbles accumulated and eventually lifted them to the top! After which, of course, the bubbles popped and the raisins would go down.

This was such a success, we’re determined to do it again. Look to this page for more news on this front soon.


So many people came together to make this possible–the Board members, volunteers, and the parents themselves.

Also, a shoutout to the parents’ choice in food: everybody brought great, healthy, tasty, kid-friendly food. This is the first potluck I’ve been at where there was only one bag of chips, and the macaroni salads, meatballs, fruits and homemade breads (among other things) really hit the spot.

We can’t wait to see you all on Nov. 19 for our next Taste of Camp Quest NorthWest … (queue corny dramatic music) … the Second Helping! If you’re interested in volunteering, attending or coming to our camp in mid-August next year, drop us a line at chuckw@campquestnorthwest.org.

What did you think? Did you have a good time? Leave a comment below!

About jami

Camp Quest NorthWest Secretary
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2 Responses to Taste of Camp Quest NorthWest: Success!

  1. Kai Sousa says:

    With the exception of oobleck, I’d never heard of any of the experiments you guys performed. My childhood science education was comprised of lectures, book study, tests and labs full of unfamiliar objects, substances and formulas that were hard to relate to the world I actually lived in. If someone – anyone – would have taught me science using things like raisins and baking soda or candy and Coke, I would have gotten SO. MUCH. MORE. out of my science education. This is awesome.

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