Venture Alumni Staff Comments

“My name is Tim Biggs and I was a counselor at the 1993/1994 Venture Engineering & Science Camps.  I often reflect on my experiences at Venture, and miss the direct energetic contact with the younger generation.  During the workshops, I was always impressed with the questions, ideas, and solutions which were generated by the Venture Campers.  To this day, I am a great believer in the interaction between the Venture Campers, Counselors, and the Engineering Industry.  The brain-storming and problem solving techniques used in the workshops/camps can be applied to the camper’s everyday life and school type settings.  I would recommend parents have their children participate in the Venture Engineering and Science Camp at least once to enrich and grow their problem solving skills."

Tim Biggs; Mechanical Engineering 1994
1993 – Instructor

"As a former counsellor, director, and then counsellor again, I can tell you that the classroom is where all the magic happens. That's where we help kids connect with science in a way they can understand and in a way that's exciting and fun for them. They are allowed to engage in experiments and activities that schools just can't afford to do, and for a growing mind this makes all the difference. My only regret is that I never went to this camp when I was a kid."

Dave Colangelo; Honours Arts & Science
2001& 2004 - Instructor,  2002 - Director

"My two summers spent at Venture were two of the most amazing summers of my life. Year 1 I was a counselor for Science & Engineering then moved into the Directors role the following summer. Not only did I have incredible experiences with the children of Venture but learned copious amounts for my future career. Working at Venture taught me how to deal with various types of people in various types of roles. It taught me how to manage peers and colleagues the same age, older and younger. Most of all it taught me how to have fun while doing all this. The kids at Venture have left me with smiling memories to this day and I thank them for that. I am also lucky to have met my husband at Venture while counseling together the first summer. Together we love to reminisce about those days and our all fun and wacky experiences. I am currently in medical school and hope to become a pediatrician when I complete. Thanks again to Venture for all its added to my life! :)"

Krista Adlington; Honours Bachelor of Science 2004
2002 - Instructor,  2003 - Director

"I spent two wonderful summers at Venture Engineering & Science in 2002 and 2003. My days spent as a Venture instructor are some of my most cherished memories from my undergraduate career. Working at Venture gave me invaluable experience in teamwork, communication, time management, and loving what you do! I am currently a Graduate Engineer at Interfleet Technology in Sydney, Australia and teamwork and communication are a critical part of my job. I use my skills gained as an instructor at Venture everyday of the week (and twice on Sundays). I still keep in touch with many of my co-workers and even some of the students I taught those two summers. Of course, Venture also led me to my brilliant wife, which puts me forever in its debt. :)"

Evan Monkhouse; Mechanical Engineering & Society 2005
2002 to 2003 - Instructor

"I enjoy thinking back to the good old days of Venture. I remember Scott Rankin used to always say "A bad day at Venture is better than a good day at any other summer job" and I think that was always true. After working in manufacturing for a few years I decided that I wanted to have more fun at work like I used to with Venture! I have now been a math & science/physics teacher (middle school and high school) for the past 6 years; working at Venture was a key experience to lead me on that path. I really enjoyed the creative aspects of the job and it was always so much fun to see kids get excited about science and engineering. I still try to use the "hands-on" method for teaching my students whenever possible and I love it when I hear my students describe something we are doing as "cool".

Heather Posgate; Mechanical Engineering & Management 1995
1991 - Instructor, 1992 - Director

"It's so nice to see that Venture is still running!  Those days were two of my best summers at McMaster!  Directing the camp with Janet Loebach was a blast.  It was also a great experience.  I think developing programs and activities for the camp as well as managing the campers was probably more challenging than any of the jobs I've had since and a good way for me to develop my presentation and organizational skills. "

Ann Prsa; Chemical Engineering 1995
1996 - Instructor, 1997 - Curriculum Coordinator

"As a counsellor with Venture I had the opportunity to educate students on robotics, computer hardware/software through work shops and hands on activities.  Working in a fun, creative and team oriented environment gave these students a great learning experience with new friends and an open mind about what career opportunities might lay ahead."

John Gurunlian; Computer Engineering and Management 2003
1999 to 2000 - Instructor

"It all began one cold January day five years ago...when I decided to apply for the Adventures in Engineering and Computing Summer Camp. During my interview I was received by a friendly, outgoing woman, named Carm Vespi. Now I had heard that Carm didn’t just choose anyone to assume the youth camp counsellor roles, she chose the best! Fortunately for me I passed the test! From creative workshops, to fun classroom learning, and exciting lunch hours, the camp was a success. My personal experience as a camp counselor was rewarding and enlightening all rolled up in a putty ball of fun! The rewarding part was being able to engage campers to learn while still having fun with the educational activities; watching their excitement really made the experience worthwhile. The enlightening part was that I learned I had a creative flare and a passion for teaching. I really enjoyed being able to teach young students in a fun way, lets face it, university lectures aren’t always exciting! From my experience at Adventures in Engineering and Computing I decided to pursue a tutoring role for young high school students where I continued to help students learn different concepts in a fun way. What more can one ask for from a summer job. The camp is a great place for all involved, and knowing Carm nothing has changed since that summer; things have only gotten better! "

Natali Krajnovich; Chemical Engineering & Managment 2005
2000 - Instructor

"As for my memories as a counsellor during the summer of 2005, it was great! I can remember dazzling kids with dry ice that would automatically inflate ballons, creating laser light shows to the theme of star wars and having cataplut distance contests infront of the parents every friday.  Whether we were travelling to various schools or during the summer camp, the kids were always having fun and completely engaged in all the hands on activities.  It's great to hear that the program is still going strong and branching out into all sorts of new partnerships."

Paul Giamberardino; Mechancial Engineering & Management
1995 - Instructor

"I had the privilege of working as a counsellor at Venture during its first two years of operation.  Since we were just starting out, there was a lot of "pioneering" going on.  Just like with engineering, we learned a lot from trial and error!  We also learned a lot from our weekend conference at Queen's University, where we got to share with counsellors from similar camps across Ontario and Quebec .

One neat thing about being a counsellor at Venture was that it gave me access to many science and engineering labs that I otherwise would not have had.  Places like the nuclear reactor, robotics lab, and ADL were on our tour list.  I think I was amazed by them just as much as some of the campers!

I also got to use many "things" that I probably would never have used otherwise.  Things like liquid nitrogen and dry ice were always crowd favourites--and they were favourites of mine as well!

I also fondly remember the travelling workshops.  May and June were always a whirlwind of activity.  I am still amazed by how many schools we visited during those two months.  I laugh when I remember us getting lost, and all the shenanigans we (the other counsellors and I) got into.

July and August, however, were the most rewarding.  Seeing the campers for a week at a time really gave us the chance to reach them.  We got to see their eyes light up at every turn: lab tours, experiments, games, water and chemical rockets, . . . , and the famous Rube Goldberg machines!  By the end of each weekly session, I knew we had made a difference with these kids; we had turned them on to science and engineering!  To this day, I still run into campers (now adults in university or already working) and we reminisce about our days back at Venture.  Heck, some of them are even engineers!

One thing Venture also did for me was to solidify my belief that I wanted to be a teacher.  From that time on, I never looked back!

I am currently teaching the Gifted Program (English and math) at W. H. Ballard Elementary School with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.  This is my tenth year with the board and my fifth year with the Gifted Program.  I love it!

I continue to promote McMaster University 's Science and Engineering programs.  I have brought my students to McMaster on several occasions to experience science and engineering.  Over the last four years, we have come to see the Engineering Olympics, Go Eng Girl, and had personal tours of some engineering/science labs (along with Fireball and/or Venture presentations).  Many of my students have also attended Venture Science and Engineering Camp and/or the Computer Camps.  All these experiences have been beneficial to my students."

Joseph Aquilina; Civil Engineering 1993
1991 to 1992 - Instructor

"My experience as a counselor was one of the most rewarding. It was the children that made this job so rewarding, everyday the children in the class were so excited to be there and to learn from you. The workshops were all ones that we created ourselves so that made the topic even more interesting and fun.  Its amazing that even after all these years there are those one or two children you still remember. It was also the first summer I spent away from home and the fellow counselor's I worked with were amazing, we had so much fun that summer at camp and after!! 
After that first summer of being a counselor I couldn't imagine not being the director the following summer, which I had an opportunity to do.  This was a totally different experience since I wasn't in the classroom but helping run things in the background. It was great to help create contacts for sponsors, hire the staff and working to create a totally unique and fun experience for the campers in the summer, you really felt a sense of ownership and accountability for the camp.  Being director was a lot work, but it was a great experience for me and was a great complement to my degree in engineering and management.  Overall, I would recommend that if you have the opportunity to be a part of the Venture Engineering and Science Camp to take it, you will have no regrets!!"

Cindy Maraj; Electrical Engineering & Management 2000
1996 - Instructor, 1997 -  Director

“Venture has been part of my life for over 10 years now. I went to the Engineering and Science Camp in grade 4 and continued to attend every summer thereafter until I was too old to attend. I went through the system as a camper, a junior counselor, an instructor, a curriculum coordinator and now the director of the Computer and Technology Camp. The camps wonderful teaching has stuck with me and guided me to the path I am on right now. I believe, without Venture, I would not be the person I am today, and without its wonderful insight into the world of computing, I would not have chosen the field of Computer Engineering for my undergraduate study here at McMaster University. I encourage all those interested in the fields of Engineering, Science or Computers to give our camp a try, as each year our fun and interactive projects are growing bigger and better making it that much more exciting to learn about and be apart of. You never know it could change your life. This being my last year with the program, I would like to end off by saying thanks to Venture and all the wonderful people I have met here, it truly has been an amazing experience.”

David Rosato; Electrical Engineering and Management 2008
1996 to 2002 - Junior Counselor, 2003 - Instructor, 2004 to 2005 - Curriculum Coordinator, 2006 -  Director

"I will never forget my time at Venture. The summer I was a part of the Venture team was by far one of the best summers of my life. I loved every aspect of the job, from the travelling workshops, to the various experiments we did in class and lab. I feel that I truly inspired children to pursue a science related career and enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you Venture."

Stefan Kegel; Honours Bachelor of Science 2007
2005 -  Instructor

" Working as a counsellor at Venture was the BEST summer job I have ever had. I loved the inspiration and encouragement I felt from from seeing kids so excited to learn. As a counsellor at Venture I was able to learn leadership and team skills, time management and communication skills. Most of what I learned however, was from students half my age. Oh... and I  also learned to be a pretty good four square player! Being part of the Venture staff means being part of a wild family in which there is never a dull moment. Working as a camp counsellor at Venture doesn't feel like a job because you get to play with science, computers, gadgets, and friends young and old all summer!"

Nevada Reed; Chemical Engineering & Honours Bachelor of Science 2007
2004 - Computer & Technology Instructor

"Senior Computer and Technology camp hasn’t been the same – since wild and wacky Jess Kenemy and other staff hit the scene! Middle school and high school “summer daze” just wouldn’t be fun with out a session or two of soddering your very own Flashy Button or Decision Maker! Sunny summer websites just wouldn’t cut it without your very own blog and picture database! Interactive computer companions just wouldn’t be your very own personal pet, if you couldn’t create and bring to life your very own Tomagochi character pal!
Wow! All this fun! Who would have guessed that there are many engineering principles to be learned in all of those captivating projects?!
Thanks to the McMaster University Engineering Department and the Alumni Staff for making it possible for both campers AND camp staff to have such an amazing time learning, teaching, applying and using all of the practical and not-so-practical advancements made in science, engineering and technology today!
Go to camp kids! It’s the best."

Jessica Kenemy; Software Engineering 2006
2003 - Computer & Technology Instructor

"Venture Camp was an amazing experience in my life. Through the three years I worked at Venture, the concepts of science and engineering were shown to me in a whole new light....they were Fun! The experience wasn't work for me, I enjoyed every minute of it, and the kids grew into scientist and engineers right before our eyes.

Thank you Venture Camp."

Graham Dickinson; Mechanical Engineering & Management 2007
2001 to 2003 - Instructor, 2003 to 2004 - Marketing and Media Manager

"I was a camp counsellor during the very enjoyable Summer of 1999. I had a blast and still to this day relay stories of my days exhibiting to and watching kids from around the region learn to appreciate the fun of Science and Engineering. I have provided many examples of the activities we used to complete to teacher-friends for use in their classes. Great to hear the camp is still going strong"

Adam Duskocy; Honours Bachelor of Science 2001
1999 - Instructor

"I spent an unprecedented 5 years with Venture Engineering and Science in a variety of roles.  As the years progressed, Venture quickly became synonymous with my summer breaks.  Let it be designing a robot to play soccer, filming and editing a Venture production of Cinderella, or poppingenough popcorn to feed 200 kids, Venture proved to be one of the best and most fulfilling employment opportunities around.  It was very rewarding seeing the campers having a great time learning Engineering and Science principles in the fun and interactive " Venture Way. With 16 years of >experience and a group of tremendous people, I would recommend Venture to anybody who wants to send their child to camp this summer."

Kennan Ip; Electrical Engineering and Management 2004
2001 - Curriculum Coordinator, 2002 - Director, 2003 - Operations Manager, 2004 - Computer and Technology Instructor

"Being part of Venture is a great experience. When I was young, for three summers in a row I attended the camp and always had a great time.  I was quite disappointed when I outgrew the maximum age group. After quite some time, returning to the camp as a counsellor has changed my perspective and given me the opportunity to change children?s lives in the way mine was so many years ago. Being in such a positive environment and immersed the coolest activities and projects is a great way to spend a week or a summer with Venture. I have such fond memories of making gack and building a catapult when I went to camp as well as seeing children?s eyes light up when their own created computer game works from being a counsellor.  Venture has accomplished so much and I am very proud to have been a part of it."

Brooke Guzar; Civil Engineering 2006
2005 - Venture Instructor

"I had a great experience working with Venture Engineering and Science Camp; we had the best team of McMaster Engineering students and fun, inquisitive campers.  I particularly enjoyed developing a curriculum for campers, getting to know the campers, and seeing the campers engaged in learning about science and engineering.  It is amazing the amount of building and learning that can be accomplished in a week! "

Brent McKnight; Computer Engineering and Management 2001
1997 - Curriculum Coordinator

"Venture, and other camps of its type are excellent opportunities to expose young minds to the worlds of Engineering and Science. I should know, as it was a camp like Venture that got me interested in taking engineering in university. Next to being a former camper at such camps, I have also worked for the past 11 years in some capacity with such programs in various positions. Three of those year I spent working at Venture, as an instructor, curriculum manager and co-director, and like others on this site have said, looking back at those three years, I can see a lot of growth I've made as a person. Instead of focusing on me though, allow me to tell you why I think Venture, like its host school McMaster, IS Innovation. During (and since) my tenure at Venture, it has focused on a small, highly qualified and cross-disciplined staff. I have always found, even when not in the camps employ, found the staff to be friendly, outgoing and devoted to creating the best experience possible. It was because of such impression, that I originally applied to work at Venture. In addition such attention to staff selection has in my opinion, brought forth consistently the best programs possible. I'm not alone in this feeling, as Venture has twice won the best project award from its mother organization, actua, and has numerous times been runner up.  With such accolades, one would think Venture would choose to grow and expand by creating more camps, and hiring more staff. Instead, Venture has appeared to spend its energy focusing inward-- increasing the things that truly matter: Staff cohesiveness, instructor to camper ratios, new unique activities, relevance to the Ontario curriculum and community outreach (through events, workshops and its busray program). Venture is also lucky, as it has an excellent working relationship with the university. McMaster Engineering as a whole has been a great supporter of the camp, with its generous use of labs, rooms and other facilities. These factors, and the long-term involvement and vision of the faculty advisor, Carm Vespi, has as I said before created one of the best day camp experiences in Canada. In closing, when someone asks me about my time at Venture, what do I think of? I think of the long, fun hours spent, the smiles and friendships formed, the stumbles and growth that I and the staff have made. Most importantly though, I think of the changes I've seen in the eyes of the campers when they finally get something. Its an amazing sight to see, and its a more amazing feeling knowing that you, and your co-workers helped in making that twinkle happen.

Martin Scherer; Software Engineering & Society 2006
Engineering and Science Camp Experience
2002 - Venture Instructor, 2003 - Venture Technology Curriculum Manager, 2004 - Venture Technology Director