PIQUA — The Upper Valley Career Center’s “Camp Excel” is not your ordinary summer camp; instead of children swimming in a pool, you will see a robotic boat immersed in a pool.
Funded solely by UVCC, students who have completed grades 4-7 learn all of the technology and programs offered at the school from June 8-11 as well as enjoy outdoor activities and board games.
“They (students) get to look at it (UVCC) now from fourth- through seventh-grade and then I will talk to them again when they are sophomores and they can decide if they want to come back as a junior or senior,” Andrew Snyder, camp director, said. “It’s a good way for them (students) to get familiar with our program and to learn something and have fun.”
The classes that the camp offers are aquatic robotics, basic building/carpentry, junior chef, crime scene investigation, creative computer programming, cosmetology, planes and rockets, and greenhouse. Some of the projects include water-pressured rockets, building tool boxes, and baking pizzas from scratch.
Each day starts off with announcements and motivation, followed by breaking off into one of three chosen sessions. The first two sessions are held in the morning, then students break for lunch and recreation, and complete their day attending the third session in the afternoon.
Snyder discussed what makes Camp Excel different from other summer camps.
“The level of technology that they (students) get to use … they get to work in a high-end kitchen or work with the best computers that they won’t get to do at a regular camp,” he said. “It’s just like the difference between us (UVCC) and a regular high school; the funding and technology that we have here is far superior.”
For the sixth year of Camp Excel, there were 89 students in attendance representing schools from Piqua, Troy, Tipp City, Covington, Bradford, Sidney, Jackson Center, Russia, Anna, Houston, Minster, Greenville, Graham, Fort Loramie and Muscatine, Iowa.
Karena Jensen is the student that represented Muscatine City Schools in Muscatine, Iowa. Jensen said her family was visiting other family members in the Piqua area and joined the camp to “be with her cousin and to have fun.”
Jensen described her favorite class during the camp.
“The gardening class, just because we got to make bird baths. You would put rocks in it, and the butterflies would sit on it and drink the water,” she said.
Jensen said if she lived in the area, she would go to the UVCC to study culinary arts.
“The best thing about our camp is kids keep coming back every year, so that means they must be having a good time and learning something,” Snyder said.