TCC’s summer youth programs provide opportunities for local young people to explore careers, find new interests and prepare for the school year — at affordable prices.
Garrison Chew wants to work in advertising and publications when he grows up.
Although he was already thinking about doing something creative with his future, he says a class he took outside of school encouraged his dreams even more.
For the past six years, Chew has attended summer camps such as Camp Scrubs and Camp MD, as well as College for Kids and now Teen Extreme, available through Tulsa Community College’s summer youth programs.
The 13-year-old, who attends Mingo Valley Christian School, says he enjoys taking classes that are interactive and about subjects that interest him, such as his Math & Mind class, where he learned how math is incorporated into making a newspaper.
“There tends to be more hands-on experience than simply lecture,” Garrison says. “Plus, some of the classes for older-age students sometimes have field trips and other off-campus experiences.”
College for Kids and Teen Extreme are two of the 19 summer programs available for youth at TCC. Kids ages 5 to 10 can attend College for Kids, and Teen Extreme enrolls 11- to 15-year-olds. Other youth programs serve kids ages 5 through 18, and class sizes range from 16 to 25 students.
Marquetta Finley, director of continuing education for youth and academic enrichment at TCC, says classes are appropriately chosen for age groups.
“We research class ideas we think could be a good fit for the program, we review age appropriateness by subject matter and we consider national trends for each age group,” she says.
TCC’s summer youth program began as a computer camp for kids in the 1970s and grew to include all four TCC campuses with additional classes and camps. Today, more than 50 new classes will integrate into College for Kids; up to eight new classes will be offered through Teen Extreme; and eight new camps will be available to a variety of age groups.
Most recently, career camps have grown in number and class size to encourage students to pursue vocations that lack a particular workforce, such as male nurses and female engineers.
For the sixth year, TCC’s youth program has joined the Tulsa Police Department and St. John Health System to help students explore different health careers through hands-on experiences. Classes take place at the Tulsa Police Training Center, where officers spend time working with youth in a CSI approach to solving medical mysteries. St. John Health System offers students hospital tours, and health care professionals share their career stories and aid in solving the medical mystery.
Pat Turner, director of the Northeast Area Health Education Center at TCC, says she hopes the camps will influence students to ultimately choose a health-related career.
“This helps with the shortage of health professionals that is prevalent in Tulsa and Oklahoma,” she says.
Another addition to the summer programs is Bridge Camp, which serves kids from kindergarten through sixth grade. The camp prepares students for the next grade in basic reading, writing and math skills.
“For the past several years, parents have requested a readiness program that would assist their children with help in math and reading,” Finley says, and “help ease the students’ transition from one grade level to the next.”
Finley says that while TCC officials listen to parents’ recommendations, they also listen to requests from their students.
She received feedback from one student who suggested a class on building model airplanes. Finley soon contacted the Tulsa Glue Dobbers, a local radio-controlled airplane flying club, to be part of this summer’s Teen Extreme so students can build and learn about radio-controlled model airplanes.
Tulsa Glue Dobbers President Jack Rogers says students will be introduced to the basics of how an airplane flies and get hands-on experience in using their physical and mental skills to build an airplane. They also will fly their models at the Tulsa Glue Dobbers’ flying field.
Rogers says he hopes the course “will encourage them to further pursue their education in the sciences and in aviation.”
Kindness That Counts, another new College for Kids class, teaches students about giving back to their community. One project is a canned food drive for the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma.
Even with all of these offerings, TCC is dedicated to keeping the summer classes affordable so that all families can participate, Finley says. For example, College for Kids classes are $30 and camp classes start at $109 for a week, with all field trips, activities and supplies included in the cost.
The teachers come from public and private schools, or have special expertise such as photography.
More than 2,400 young Tulsans enrolled in one of TCC’s youth summer programs last year, although enrollment has reached more than 4,000 in recent years. Students also usually sign up for multiple classes and camps.
Garrison Chew, who signed up for more than one class last summer, also serves on KATSCAN, the youth council for all TCC department programming, including the youth summer programs. He says he looks forward to his classes and camps as part of his summer plans. He will take some classes with his brother.
His father, Gary Chew, says he’s pleased with TCC’s summer programs because his kids continue to expand their awareness of the world.
Along with being educational and fun, he says, “They keep my sons’ minds engaged during the summer, it’s a safe place for them while I am at work and the teachers and staff have always been great and make my sons feel special.”