VAMPY siblings share unique – but similar – camp experiences

By Josh Raymer

In a group that spans four grades, hails from 10 states (and China!), and is populated by 200 unique individuals, it seems unlikely that a widespread commonality could emerge. Yet 10 percent of this year’s cohort of VAMPY campers has something in common: They’re all attending camp with their sibling.

Kevin Eastman and his younger brother Eric, of Bowling Green, represent one side of the sibling situation at VAMPY: taking the same class, but rooming with different people. (No sibling pairs are rooming together and taking the same class.) Though the room choice was by design, taking the same class wasn’t always the plan for the Eastmans.

“It wasn’t originally our idea to take the same class,” Eric explained. “Kevin wanted to take STEAM Labs first, and then I was looking at the class list, and it was one of the classes that seemed most interesting to me. I decided to take that class, too.”

Eric credits Kevin as part of the reason he wanted to come to VAMPY. “I did SCATS last year because Kevin did it and said it was fun,” he said. “I really enjoyed SCATS, and when my counselor said I might like VAMPY even better, I decided to come to VAMPY.”

Kevin, who attended SCATS in 2014 and 2015, said his parents were the ones who encouraged him to attend two years ago “They heard it was two weeks at WKU over the summer taking classes, which sounded fun.,” he said. “We decided I should give SCATS a try.”

During his two years at SCATS, Kevin said he enjoyed Nuclear Chemistry, Age of Exploration, and Creative Problem Solving because they were hands-on and involved either engineering or social studies. STEAM Labs became his VAMPY choice for much the same reason. “This class is very hands-on,” he said. “You’re building stuff all day.”

Brothers Eric (background) and Kevin (foreground_ Eastman program their Lego robots in STEAM Labs Wednesday, June 29. (Photo by Sam Oldenburg)
Brothers Eric (background) and Kevin (foreground) Eastman program their Lego robots in STEAM Labs Wednesday, June 29. (Photo by Sam Oldenburg)

Working in separate groups, both brothers said they were excited about the final project in STEAM Labs. “We’re slowly building up so that our last machine combines all four groups in the class,” Kevin said. “It’ll be a giant machine spanning the whole room.”

The rooming situation, unlike the class choice, was always by design. Eric summed up their shared rationale: “I live with him at home, so I wanted to room with someone new.”

The duo has enjoyed optionals – they have yet to take the same one – and are excited about the traditions that lie ahead during their first year at VAMPY. Regarding the balance of spending time with a sibling compared to meeting new people, Eric said it’s never been an issue for him and his brother.

“When I signed up for this class, it didn’t bother me that Kevin was in the class with me,” he said. “I’ll interact with him, but it doesn’t interfere with me meeting new people.”

Kevin said there’s only been one challenge so far: “Car space and packing!”

On the flip side of the sibling situation are Sara and Maya Abul-Khoudoud, sisters from Ashland who are rooming together but taking different classes. The rooming decision, according to both sisters, came down from their mom.

“My mom roomed us together,” Sara said. “We thought we weren’t going to be put together, that it would be by grade or something, but now that we’re here it’s good.”

Maya said it would’ve been her preference to room with someone new, but now that they’re here, it’s been a good setup. “Since this is Sara’s first year, my mom thought it’d be better for us to room together so she doesn’t get homesick,” she explained. “There’s been no awkwardness like when you’re rooming with someone new.”

The different class choices can be credited to different motivations during the selection process. Sara, who hopes to do Future Problem Solvers and Academic Team at her school, chose Problems You’ve Never Solved Before, hoping the class would teach her to think more creatively. With challenges like the egg drop and keeping a potato chip intact during the process of being mailed, Sara said she’s definitely being challenged.

Maya, on the other hand, wanted to get a leg up on a challenging subject before the next school year. After two years at Duke TIP studying math, she ran into a challenge for this summer and decided to come to VAMPY rather than return for a third year.

“Last year I went for Algebra II because math at our school isn’t great,” she said. “This year, VAMPY was the only camp offering the next math class I’m going to take: Pre-Calculus,” she said. “My mom wanted to come here so I could be prepared for that class in school.”

Maya said she’s loved the self-paced setup in VAMPY’s Math class, where students tackle various math subjects at their own speed and can ask the instructors whenever they need help. “I’m going slow, but I’m getting it,” she revealed.

Sisters Maya (left) and Sara Abul-Khoudoud from Ashland,  dance with Sarah Baird from Russell to the music being played during the Software Parkour optional Wednesday, June 29. (Photo by Tucker Allen Covey)
Sisters Maya (left) and Sara Abul-Khoudoud from Ashland, dance with Sarah Baird from Russell to the music being played during the Software Parkour optional Wednesday, June 29. (Photo by Tucker Allen Covey)

Unlike some older siblings who might distance themselves from their younger counterpart, Maya and Sara have actually been enjoying a lot of the same activities. Maya said, “We have the same friend group because there are a lot of kids who came here from our school, so we all do optionals together.”

This process had to happen naturally, however. “At first I told her she didn’t need to follow me around,” Maya recalled with a laugh. “But then with the same friends, we ended up doing a lot of the same things. If she asks me to go somewhere with her, of course I’ll go because I’m her sister.”

With Maya playing soccer and tennis at the high school, and Sara playing the same sports at the middle school, it won’t be long before the sisters have even more shared experiences. “Soon we’ll be on the same sports teams, too!” Maya exclaimed.

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