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CLC Connection: Summer camps for area youth

Summer camp has always held a special place in my heart. I still remember dropping our girls off at camp years ago (they're both in college now). Their excitement was contagious. It was the change of pace. The friends. The anticipation. It all just seemed to scream "summer." They always came home filled with stories of new friends, inspiring teachers, cool experiences, and yes, even ideas about careers!

That pure, unadulterated joy has carried on through hundreds of area youth at Central Lakes College with the summer camps we hold each year. At CLC, we think educational (and extremely fun!) youth camps are a great way to connect with our community and help our next generation explore career paths while making great friends. Those memories will last a lifetime. Those experiences could shape their career choices.

Here are a few examples of camps we held in June

Seventy-five volleyball players of all different skill levels were trained during Raider Volleyball Camp. The sixth through 12th graders improved their skills and had fun playing and training for the sport. In addition to learning volleyball skills, the students, who came from 19 different area schools, learned other skills to help them be more efficient learners on and off the court: being a good teammate, being resilient, stopping to take a breath so they can compete calmly with focus, and positive self talk. We also have 12 teams from eight different high schools participating in our summer league on Monday nights.

In Scrubs Camp, eighth and ninth graders spent two days exploring many healthcare careers, including nursing, medical assistant, radiology technician and more. These young minds were able to experience these career paths through field trips and hands-on activities facilitated by local healthcare professionals and college faculty. Several campers said the experience helped them pin down the path they wanted to take after high school. Others switched from one healthcare career path to another. Our community partners included Essentia Health, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center, Sourcewell, Lakewood Health System, Good Samaritan Society, Bridges Career Academies & Workplace Connection, CLC's Fire & EMS and Nursing programs, HealthForce MN, North Ambulance and Life Link.

During Nitro-X Camp, middle-schoolers worked in teams to build and modify a four-by-four remote controlled vehicle. They learned about electronics, engines, suspension, paint and diagnostics. Campers were able to tour local industry partners and explore careers like auto mechanics, heavy equipment operations and maintenance, diesel technicians, and marine and power sports. Finally, they capped off the camp with an RC race competition on the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds. Beneath the students' cheering, high-fives and victory celebrations, you can see their passion growing for the career field. Our community partners included Midwest Machine, Mills Auto Group, Mills Auto Xtreme, Ziegler Cat, Crow Wing County Fairgrounds, Minnesota State Transportation Center of Excellence, Brainerd American Legion and Brainerd Kiwanis.

CLC's Upward Bound summer program brought in 42 students from nine area high schools, including Pierz, Isle, Onamia, Nay Ah Shing, Staples-Motley, Brainerd, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Bertha-Hewitt and Browerville. These students stay in CLC student housing during the weeks-long camp, eat on campus and attend classes on campus. This unique program helps transforms first generation or modest income high school students into college graduates.

Here are a few camps you can still join

SEaM Camp (Science, Engineering & Manufacturing) provides an opportunity for hands-on experiences with electronics, motor controllers, mechanical drafting, manufacturing machining and robotic automated systems. As part of the camp, sixth-12th graders build robots and test their skills in a robot obstacle course and demolition contest. The energy at these competitions is contagious. Many of these campers come back year after year. Some of them later turn into CLC robotic students. (The camp runs July 9-13 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at our Staples campus. Busing is available from Brainerd.) Our community partners are 3M and Bosch.

Coding Camp is a great introduction to mobile application development for anyone age 12 and up. Campers get to use a variety of programming languages and tools to create simple programs, starting with HTML, CSS and JavaScript. What I love about this camp, is it lets students have experiences they may not get anywhere else. Plus, it's a growing career field that provides great jobs! (The camp runs July 30-Aug 2. Morning class meets from 8-11 a.m. and afternoon class meets from 1-4 p.m.)

These camps are more than just a fun, educational few days with friends. Sure, that's what our kids really love about them, but it's much more. It's a way for them to explore where their passion lies.

Maybe Coding Camp will open up a world of technology someone didn't know was possible. Nitro-X Camp could spark an interest in cars, motors and technology. And perhaps Raiders Volleyball Camp will ignite an ongoing passion for athletics.

Each of these camps offers a gateway into a career field that is flourishing. Should these young students enter into these fields, they will have incredible employment opportunities in our region. And when students stay here or move here for these career opportunities, our local economy thrives.

You can find out more about these camps here: www.clcmn.edu/camps/

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