Students attend web animations camp at Worthington Scranton.

PSWS Summer Camps Make Learning Fun

Today's summer camps aren't just geared toward getting kids out of the house. The summer youth programs at PSWS integrate fun-filled activities with STEM, STEAM and STREAM initiatives that have campers learning new skills and preparing for their future careers.
By: Kelly Frey

Campus offers programs for youths aged six to 16 during the weeks of July 11 through Aug. 1

Summer brings hot weather, sunshine and a sense of excitement, especially for school-aged children, for whom it means a break from long school days and more time outdoors. But that doesn’t have to mean a break from learning.

Each summer, Penn State Worthington Scranton offers a variety of fun and educational programs and summer camps for youths aged six to 16.

These camps have been a summer tradition at the campus for over a decade now, and each year organizers add new options, in order to keep the camp offerings fresh, engaging and in line with student interests.

There is a wide variety of programs covering a wide range of interests. There is “A Celebration of Seuss” which is geared for children ages 6-8, and helps develop reading skills, using the ever-popular and timeless Dr. Seuss books. For youths looking to learn a marketable skill, there is Babysitter’s Training for those aged 11-15, which provides a great opportunity to learn how to take care of infants and young children and earn certifications in CPR and First Aid.

These camps use the ideologies of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and STEAM (Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math), and more recently, STREAM, (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts and Math).

“Our instructors are all focused on adding some sort of STEM, art and reading into their camps, explained Sue Fitch, CWDP, Outreach and Training Specialist at PSWS' Center for Business Development and Community Outreach. “For example: The Wizards and Cauldrons camp uses math in scoring their Quidditch games; Zoo Camp uses the scientific names for the animals; and reading is one of the basics in all STEM careers.”

The Digital Animation and Computer Gaming Academy, Creating Digital Animations, Creative Lego Engineering, Lego Mindstorms and Wizards and Cauldrons are the most popular camps offered at Worthington Scranton, with multiple sections available that typically sell out way before the registration deadlines.

The Digital Animations and Computer Gaming Academy introduces campers to the world of Information Science and Technology, a popular four-year degree currently offered at PSWS.

Taking a camp like this one can help young campers find out if they enjoy the IST world, and possibly pique an early interest in a future IST career. As one of the fastest growing career fields, these camps provide students with an early foundation in the world of technology.

These camps, along with the Wizards and Cauldrons camp, have been the most popular camps for over a decade now, due in large part to the instructors’ expertise. “Our instructors are all experienced educators in secondary and higher education, so they have experience in changing their camps to meet the needs of each year’s incoming participants,” Fitch said.

Some of the newer camps that have evolved over just the past few years are starting to gain in popularity as well, including:  Time Traveler, a camp that molds science, history and culture together to captivate the minds of youths aged 8 to 12; and Fun with Pirates, where kids can come to camp dressed as pirates, which brings the world of reading to life by incorporating pirate-related arts and crafts activities that include learning how to tie different knots, the culture of pirates, and more.

This year, there are two new academies aimed at middle school- and high school-age students interested in exploring potential career interests:  the Health Sciences Academy and the Business and Entrepreneurship Academy. These camps introduce campers to degree programs offered at Penn State Worthington Scranton -- business and nursing.

The Health Sciences Academy utilizes the campus’ nursing department, where campers get hands-on experience in its SIMS lab, where campers learn how to take care of patients using computerized patient simulators. They also learn about the causes and cures of illnesses in the science labs.

The Business and Entrepreneurship Academy is designed to develop youngsters’ interest in starting their own business one day.

“There is a growing interest in business and entrepreneurship by teenagers, noted by the rise in the number of FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) clubs in high schools and in their increased enrollments. We would like to encourage this interest by having our faculty educate and inspire teenagers through an academic experience,” said John Drake, director of Penn State Worthington Scranton's Center for Business Development and Community Outreach.

“We have a business degree program with instructors working closely with our department to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in our degree students and also serve as a resource for area entrepreneurs.”

Also new this year are specialized sports camps, including softball and soccer, which play an important role in child development. As part of last year’s restoration of the PSWS athletic fields, and to encourage participation in sports at the college level, these camps have become a part of the ever-expanding summer camp offerings at PSWS.

According to an article on the website, Sportanddev.org, “Sport and physical education is fundamental to the early development of children and youth, and the skills learned during play, physical education and sport contribute to the holistic development of young people. Through participation in sport and physical education, young people learn about the importance of key values such as: honesty, teamwork, fair play, respect for themselves and others, and adherence to rules.”

Fitch added, “from my personal experience as a high school softball and soccer player/manager, math and geometry are aspects of both sports. The angle a soccer goalkeeper takes to block a shot, or the angle of a penalty kick, are part of geometry, and the statistics involved in softball, (i.e., a certain hitter may hit against a right-handed pitcher 95% of the time but against a left-handed pitcher 24% of the time, so the coach may change pitchers when that hitter comes up to bat) are important in keeping track of scoring and statistics.”

It’s obvious that the summer youth programs and camps offered at Penn State Worthington Scranton are more than just a day camp for kids. They provide an experience that focuses on valuable lessons that will benefit children for years to come – perhaps even inspiring their future careers.

With that in mind, Drake and Fitch are already working on ideas for future camps to add, including a MakerBot camp that will introduce campers to the new technology of 3-D printing. Technological advancements are happening all the time, and this camp will fuel campers’ creativity and ingenuity.

There are also plans to expand the “Lego Mindstorms Robotics” camp, which integrates science, math and technology into a hands-on curriculum, allowing campers to bring their imagination to life as they build robots out of Legos that can actually work.

“Our campus has a long history of offering educational camps that not only provide area children with quality education, but the students have a great time, make friends, and get to spend time on a university campus,” Drake said. “We are very fortunate to have instructors that not only have subject expertise, but have a passion to teach students in our camp age groups.

"Our department specializes in outreach activities that help the campus learn about the needs of our community and provide university resources to our community.  The summer youth program encourages educational exploration by our area youth and serves as yet another bridge between the campus and the people of the region that we serve.”

To find out more information regarding the camps please visit: http://worthingtonscranton.psu.edu/cubcamps

To see some examples of how PSWS’ summer camps have inspired children, visit:

http://worthingtonscranton.psu.edu/story/2420/2015/07/22/todays-youth-summer-camp-students-could-be-tomorrows-instructors