During the second week of June, the Truman Pierce Institute (TPI) hosted two sets of students for summer camp activities on Auburn’s main campus. One of the camps welcomed students from nearby Loachapoka, Alabama, and was called the Loachapoka Exploring Auburn Days (L.E.A.D.). The other session was the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) Camp. These latter students were high school juniors and seniors from across the state who returned to their communities to devote at least 40 hours to their 21st CCLC aftershock programs.
The L.E.A.D. camp, which is sponsored by the Office of K-12 Outreach, offers Loachapoka High School students a week-long residential university experience.
“A big part of what we do in these camps is expose young people to a university setting,” said Chris Wooten, who is in his fifth year of directing the LEAD Camp. “We want these students to see what educational opportunities are out there for them and to get to know Auburn as well. To do this we introduce them to many, many activities on campus involving such academic programs as science and math, education, fisheries, nursing, agriculture, engineering, and several others.”
With a theme of “Making Sound Decisions for a Better Tomorrow,” the students are also introduced to related activities and hear from Auburn initiatives such as Community and Civic Engagement, develop interviewing and resume skills, and other things that will help them as they become increasingly aware of the opportunities that are out there for them.
The 21st CCLC camp is made possible through funding by the Alabama State Department of Education. It focuses on skills and experiences high school students can use in out-of-school-time programs. Alabama has over 110 21st CCLC funded out-of-school-time programs across the state. These programs provide K-12 students safe, enriching, academically challenging and fun aftershock and summer programs. The 21st CCLC AU campers will return to their school systems and volunteer in one of these programs using their new skills. It also provided them with a college experience.
The students were also able to experience the great diversity of area activities, including the Raptor Center in the College of Veterinary Medicine, the ropes course for team building and bonding, and visit the Hyundai plant in Montgomery.
The Auburn camps focused on enrichment activities, and subtly reinforced the “soft skills” that will help these students progress, both academically and socially. The LEAD camp co-directors were TPI staffers Chris Wooten, Tenille Gaines, and Teresa Smoot. The 21st CCLC camps were led by Rick Pavek, Chris Groccia and Jessica Cooper.
“This is a great opportunity for these young people from high-poverty areas to get to see Auburn, see what we have to offer, and consider their opportunities,” Wooten said. “We look at it as a recruiting tool, and as a way to help them see what all is out there to help them have a ‘better tomorrow.’ ”