Goshen College is rapidly expanding its selection of summer camps for children and youth, bolstered by a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. last spring. 

The College’s Center for Community Engagement is taking the lead in developing and managing the camps. This past summer 145 students attended the six camps.

CCE anticipates having as many as 16 camps in operation next summer, bringing hundreds of children and youth to campus during June and July.

“[The camps] help us build relationships with the community.” Said Ann Venderly, academic dean. “We want families to know about the college.” 

The summer camp program will provide K-12 youth of Elkhart County expanded learning opportunities in arts, STEM and other programs that specialize in building social, emotional and academic skills. 

In the new Arts and Vision camp, students in grades six through eight will explore a variety of art mediums and both contemporary and historical artists, learning to see the world in a new way. 

“That’s really where my heart is – helping kids build imagination for what’s possible” said Courtney Ropp, the K-12 coordinator for CCE. 

ETHOS STEM Center in partnership with Goshen College will offer a week-long camp for children who attend kindergarten through eighth grade, focusing on science and technology. Campers will be exposed to a range of activities and challenges that help them to learn, play and connect STEM to the real world. 

“This is especially important to young girls.”  Ropp said. According to the American Association of University Women, only 21% of engineering majors and 19% of computer science majors are women. This is something the STEM camp hopes to address in our community. 

A new addition next year will be the GC Leaf Alive program. Campers in grades three and four will learn about and experience music, theater, broadcasting and visual art from Goshen College students. 

Positions for the camp will be open to all Goshen College students as well as three paid internships for whole of the summer program. “Our students are well equipped to do this type of work.” Ropp said “It’s being a support person, another set of hands, and having fun with the kids. It’s camp; it’s fun!”

One of the main focuses of the 2023 summer camps will be expanding last year’s programs for newly immigrated high school students. Elkhart County has seen an increased need for immigration services, according to the Childhood Dashboard of Elkhart County.

 “The Center for Community Engagement really has a social justice focus.” Ropp said “In helping create equitable programs and experiences for kids and their families, this is one way we’re going about that.”

Going into high school, Ropp said, many Latinx students are forced to adapt quickly with little to no outside support. This lack of support can hinder their engagement and ability to succeed, she said the immigration program offered at the upcoming summer camp will aim to expand the support offered and give campers the tools needed to succeed.

In “Rompienda Barreras Para Un Mejor Futuro (Breaking Barriers for a Better Future)” will be open to Latinx youth in grades nine through 12. Campers will learn English, learn about the some of the cultures and experiences of the United States, receive support and explore the local community. Each camper will be assessed to better tailor the program to their specific needs. 

The summer camps will run from late May until early August 2023. For more information contact Courtney Ropp at the Center for Community Engagement in Newcomer Center or at ckropp@goshen.edu.