Penn State Summer Camps Help Youth Gain New Knowledge and Skills and Explore Careers

June 06, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
University Park, Pa. — Penn State summer camps offer young people much more than fun and games. They give participants opportunities to learn new things, explore a future career and make new friends, while also seeing what college life is like. Summer academic and sport camps annually bring nearly 30,000 youth to University Park. Thousands more young people attend summer camps at Penn State campuses statewide.

“While Penn State summer camps provide young people with opportunities to gain valuable knowledge and learn new skills, the camps also play an important role in supporting local summer economies and serve as effective recruiting tools for Penn State’s colleges,” Vice President for Outreach Dr. Craig D. Weidemann said.

Summer camps enable young people to spend time one-on-one with Penn State faculty and coaches. Their camp experiences lead some participants to apply for admission to Penn State when it comes time to apply for college, according to a new study of summer camps coordinated by Penn State Conferences, a unit of Penn State Outreach, which finds 5 percent of the incoming freshmen class of 2006–07 at University Park have attended a summer camp at University Park.

In the College of Arts and Architecture, for instance, the School of Music’s Summer Music Camp brings about 250 high school students from across the nation to campus. The school uses the camp as a recruiting effort, distributing application materials and having faculty at the camp to talk with campers. The result: one-quarter of the School of Music’s freshman class has attended Music Camp. As one participant explains, “My camp experience led me to choose music education as a major and, in addition, to choose to attend Penn State.”

Penn State campuses are experiencing similar results. At Penn State DuBois, 62 summer camp participants currently are enrolled at Penn State DuBois, and another 38 camp participants are enrolled at other Penn State campuses, according to Continuing Education Director John Piccolo. “The camps are paying off in terms of recruitment,” Piccolo said. “We’ve been running youth camps since the 1980s. When we looked at camp participation, we found a substantial link between participation and admissions.”

Each year, more than 220,000 youth participate in programs at Penn State campuses throughout Pennsylvania.

Executive Director of Statewide Continuing Education Bill Curley said, “One of our campus continuing education goals is to increase the number of academic programs focused in the sciences. Examples include the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Summer Institute and Math Options program, which are offered at several Penn State campuses. These programs raise awareness about career activities and get young people excited about the sciences and math. They also address a critical workforce need by introducing young people to potential careers and helping them to learn some of the skills these jobs require.”

At University Park, summer sport camps attract some 12,000 youth annually from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries. Many campers later apply to Penn State and some make it onto varsity squads. According to the summer camps study of the incoming freshmen class of 2006–07 at University Park, 43 percent of freshmen who attended fencing camp are on the varsity roster, while 9 percent of freshmen who attended football camp are on the varsity football roster.

For information about Penn State summer camps, visit the Penn State Youth Portal at online.