For some, undergraduate success the result of summer camp experience

February 03, 2020

She’s just a few short months from graduation and as Ava Rash looks back on her academic at career at Penn State she can pinpoint one of the primary reasons for her success.

It was her decision to attend Penn State in the first place — thanks in large part to a weeklong summer camp conducted by the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. Rash, a senior from Pittsburgh, found out about the camp through her high school counselors who knew she had an interest in journalism.

“It was the main reason I picked Penn State,” Rash said. “I loved the people who ran the camp and I learned so much in just one week.”

The camp takes high school students inside the same newsrooms and studios that Penn State students use.

Rash said the early exposure to TV and sports production motivated her to become involved and seek out opportunities as an undergraduate student at Penn State. She was involved in the production of “Centre Country Report,” the award-winning student newscast produced by students in the Bellisario College, and has held several internships, including one with Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics that enables her to hone her hosting skills at sporting events, including between periods work for Penn State hockey at Pegula Ice Arena.

“The camp, broadcast journalism program and internships have really given me all of the tools that I have needed,” Rash said.

She’s not alone. Several students who have attended the weeklong summer camp, which attracts students from across the country, have eventually enrolled at the University in recent years.

Steve Kraycik, the co-director of the camp and the director of student television in the Bellisario College, said the camp gives students incredible insight into what their four years at Penn State could look like. Camp lessons on editing, reporting and writing — along with camera training — translate well for students who chose to attend the University.

“It’s a wonderful recruiting tool and really gives us the chance to show them the Bellisario College and what we do,” Kraycik said.

Kraycik said it has been especially rewarding to watch Rash’s professional growth from the high school student he saw at the summer camp to the college senior he sees working as a composed sideline sports reporter covering Penn State varsity sports.

Connor Kanto, a sophomore from Wayne, Pennsylvania, said he was not even considering Penn State for college until he attended the summer camp.

“I was looking around before my senior year, just trying to find a summer camp opportunity with broadcast journalism and I found that Penn State had one,” Kanto said. “The camp completely changed my view on the school and I learned a lot more than I thought I was going to.”

Kanto picked Penn State and has focused his studies on one day becoming a news producer. He said Bellisario College faculty and staff have been integral in his initial success. Plus, he has a comfort level and familiarity on campus and in the studios thanks to participating in the summer camp.

“They have given me the keys and tools to be successful,” he said. “Plus, I’m able to be involved in so many clubs and organizations so early in the process. A lot of other schools don’t let you get this involved so early on.”

Kanto hopes to add a study abroad experience during his career, as well as an internship or two. He credits the summer camp for igniting his passion and unveiling so many opportunities at Penn State.

This summer’s camp — with sessions for broadcast journalism, digital journalism and film — is scheduled July 5-10 on the University Park campus. More information may be found online.


Last Updated June 14, 2021