The zombies are coming.
And Quad-City middle-school students are preparing this week for an invasion during Scott Community College’s second annual zombie camp.
These zombies, however, aren’t the ones that have come to dominate pop culture — the walking dead that scale buildings or run in “magic, giant hoards,” said Karen Farley, the college’s associate director of marketing and camp director.
“Our zombies are the very classic slow-moving, “Night of the Living Dead” kind of zombies,” she said.
While the zombies are expected to invade camp on Friday, the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM-based camp, focuses more on equipping kids with the wherewithal to survive on their own.
“The whole point was to use zombies as a context, but it’s really about teaching them to become more self-reliant,” Farley added. “You never know when something’s going to happen, whether it’s a zombie apocalypse, or a fire at your house or a flood.”
By the end of the week, the 20 students, who range in age from 11-14 years old, will have learned how to fish, use a compass, identify edible plants, change bandage dressings, purify water from a stream and work together as a team.
“If a zombie apocalypse did happen, we’d be ready for it,” said Isaac Smith, a 13-year-old Bettendorf Middle School student.
On Wednesday, the campers, who are split into four teams of five, spent the morning learning fire-safety skills.
At the college’s Midwest Center for Public Safety Training, first responders instructed campers to hold their breath as they walked through a smoke-filled building that area firefighters use to simulate emergency rescue situations.
“It’s important for kids to know how to take care of themselves and be responsible for other people that they’re around because they’re a lot smarter and stronger than they think they are,” Farley said.
Earlier in the week, students completed personality assessments before combining their efforts in small groups.
“In an apocalypse, you want to help anyone you can find,” said Brandon Richards, a 13-year-old Pleasant Valley Junior High School student. “Everybody survives better together than they do alone.”
Farley said the camp forces children to use their imaginations and just “play,” something that’s not as common today.
“Instead of playing video games, they’re out here playing with other kids,” she said.
Prepping for Friday’s “invasion,” campers scrounged the public safety training campus for materials to build protective, makeshift shelters without hammers or nails.
“This is the most fun I’ve had at a camp before,” said Lauren White, a 12-year-old Bettendorf Middle School student. “And that’s saying something because I’ve been to a lot of camps.”