Kids in College summer program turns 25

Young students' imaginations will soar to great heights this summer as Penn State New Kensington celebrates 25 years of its Kids in College program.

For a quarter of a century, the Office of Continuing Education has offered a variety of academic and sports activities for students in grades one through 12. Each year, more than 400 youths participate in the hands-on camps. For the past 10 years, the program blended its traditional camps with the Pennsylvania STEM.

“The camp was established to provide students with a fun learning experience, while exposing them to a college campus atmosphere,” said Debra Novak, coordinator of STEM programs at the campus. “Over the past 25 years, we have had more than 7,000 students participate in the program.”

This year’s line-up features 38 camps, including 16 new classes and 18 STEM classes. In addition, there are three sports camps -- basketball, soccer and volleyball --- as well as an SAT prep course for high school students.

The camps, which run from June to August, are arranged by grade levels. There are seven classes for children in grades 1-3 and seven classes for grades 2-5. Five courses are available for students in grades 4-8, and 10 camps are designated for students in grades 5-8. A babysitting class is offered to students in grades 6-11 and a biology class for grades 7-11. The sports camps cover all grades.

“We continue to have gifted instructors who provide creative courses that enrich our students in a variety of topics,” said Novak, who joined the campus community in October. “The number of courses offered each year has continued to grow in size and material content. Due to the program’s success, we presently have second-generation students attending the camps.”

New to the schedule this summer are Music Adventures and Exploration (grades 1-3), Through the Eyes of an American Girl Doll, (2-5), Cooking Creations (4-6), and Animal Sculptures and More (5-8). First-time STEM offerings include Voyage to the Arctic (1-3), Black Holes and Other Curiosities (4-6) and Masters of Game Design (5-8). In addition, old favorites include Math Rocks (2-5), Robotics for Beginners (4-6), Rocketry (4-8) and Introduction to Photography (5-8).

The perennial front-runner, Theatre Camp, is back for a two-week run beginning with auditions on June 10. Director Joe Truesdell will bring an adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” to the Forum Theatre stage. The camp is split into two sections: 8:30 a.m. to noon (grades 2-5) and noon to 3:30 p.m. (6-12). The sections come together on the last day of camp, June 27, for a grand performance.

To help the campus celebrate the silver anniversary, Novak has developed three special events that will feature balloons, popcorn and cake for the campers. The first event, presented by the Carnegie Science Center, is “Rockin’ Robots: World Tour” on Friday, July 12. A week later, on July 19, the “Wild World of Animals” wildlife show comes to the campus. Special activities conclude July 19 with the 25th Anniversary Time Capsule Dedication. The time capsule was designed and manufactured by the Alcoa Technical Center and donated to the campus.

“Each class at this year’s camp will provide a token to be included in the time capsule,” said Novak, who earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Pittsburgh. “We would love to have the kids in the community enroll in a camp and join us in celebrating.”

The Kids in College program is funded, in part, by a grant from the Grable Foundation, whose mission is to enrich the academic, artistic and social experiences for at-risk youth living in the Alle-Kiski Valley. The grant is earmarked for scholarships and materials. A limited number of scholarships are available. Students are encouraged to register early.

Based in Pittsburgh, the Grable Foundation supports community and youth organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania. The foundation reflects the philanthropic philosophy of Erret and Minnie Grable who were strong believers in the importance of education in helping children build productive, self-sustaining and meaningful lives.

For more information, call 724-334-6010.

For a brochure on the youth programs, information on scholarships or to register, visit

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Last Updated May 22, 2013