Summer camps grant college credit opportunities

Clackamas Community College is hosting four free summer camps this year for high school students in Clackamas County. Classes in health sciences, industrial technology, horticulture and invention will be held June 18 – 22 from 9 a.m.to 3 p.m.

Three of the camps will be held on the CCC Oregon City campus and the invention camp will be held at the Sabin Schellenberg Technical Center in Milwaukie. Tuition, materials, lunches and transportation from students’ high schools will be provided. Students entering ninth through 12 grade this fall can register by June 1 for a chance to participate, participants will be announced July 1.

Spots in the camps will be chosen through a weighted lottery, with priority given to “historically underrepresented students,” defined in a news release from CCC as “students of color, students with disabilities, students with low socio-economic status and students with limited access to accelerated college credit courses.”

The camps are funded by a regional promise grant supported by the Oregon Department of Education – the grant focuses on underrepresented students working toward their goal to increase the college-bound population. The grant team will meet on May 23 to finalize the weighing process.

“It’s another offering and it’s something new and interesting for students to do,” said Jaime Clarke, CCC director of education partnerships, who is leading the team organizing the camps.

For some students, these camps could be the first exposure they or their family have had to a college atmosphere, said Ashlee Hodgkinson, a CCC enrollment specialist.

“By establishing a connection with these students, even as little as a week-long summer camp, I would hope that this would lead to these students eventually wanting to come to CCC,” Hodgkinson said.

Early advanced education also plays a part in a student’s success in high school and their probability of moving on to college. Education Northwest’s website said, “Programs that provide students the opportunity to earn college credits while still in high school have a positive effect on both high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates.”

Clarke believes it’s important to introduce students to the concept of higher education as soon as possible.

“The sooner we can connect with students, the better, in terms of helping them envision a future for themselves, a path forward,” Clarke said.

“Although these are high school students taking college courses, our hope is that they are treated the same, and with the same expectations that a ‘regular’ college student would experience,” said CCC academic and career coach Katie Harvey.

The leadership for Clackamas County’s regional promise grant, dubbed the “Clackamas Promise,” includes representatives from each of the eight participating schools’ school districts: Oregon City, North Clackamas, West Linn-Wilsonville, Canby, Molalla River, Gladstone, Estacada and Colton.

The team is working on a six year plan for entering ninth graders that would take them through the first two years of college.

“[The plan is] so that they can see that path, and be excited about school, and that it’s not just school, that it’s leading towards something. Something that maybe they’re more interested in than the class they’re sitting in,” Clarke said.

By May 2, with a month still to go, the team had received 180 signups for the camps, which is over the limit of 140.

“Initially it had been my intention to increase sections so we wouldn’t have to turn anyone away,” Clarke said. “Unfortunately and fortunately, we’ve had so many students sign up we’re not going to be able to do that.”

CCC instructors will be teaching the horticulture, industrial technology and health sciences camps and invention will be taught by Philip Clark, a teacher at the West Linn-Wilsonville school districts’ Arts and Technology High School.

If CCC hopes to continue offering these camps in the future, Clarke said the team will probably have to find corporate sponsors.

“My hopes are that students participate all week, that there’s lots of learning and fun and students participating could, at the end, see themselves being college students here,” Clarke said. “And that everyone is safe. That’s my hope.”

CCC is looking for college students to help out with the camps by volunteering to be another adult in the classroom with the teacher. Any volunteers working with high schoolers are required to have a background check.

Anyone interested can contact Jaime Clarke at 503-594-3220.

Members of the automotive department give a demonstration to a visiting high school class during their tour of the college. Photo by Jonathan Villagomez.