Camp Coca-Cola Participants Visit Penn College on Northeast Tour
A group of 47 Boston-area teens toured Pennsylvania College of Technology on Aug. 1-2 as part of their participation in Camp Coca-Cola, a year-round youth-development program.
Camp Coca-Cola operates in five metropolitan areas thus far, and participants visiting Penn College are part of Camp Coca-Cola New England. A four-week summer camp offers traditional outdoor programming such as hiking and water sports, and, throughout the year, program participants are required to actively engage in volunteerism and leadership in the community.
Youths participate in Camp Coca-Cola for five years, taking part in their first summer camping experience following their seventh-grade year. School or community leaders nominate students who do well in school and show they have leadership capability and a desire to learn, grow and succeed.
Camp Coca-Cola New England was started four years ago; this year, the first group of students to be nominated is entering 11th grade. The students are building on last year's camping experience − during which they took part in adventure activities − by talking about trying something new, stepping out of their comfort zone and visiting colleges.
A group of teens planned the route, choosing one college or university from each of five regions: Boston, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. They chose the schools based on a survey of their peers, trying to cover all the majors and extracurricular activities that campers indicated they'd like to learn more about.
The teens are first-generation college students said Kara C. Allen, community youth relations director for Camp Coca-Cola New England, and they come from neighborhoods and communities that don't generally allow for such activities. All camp activities are free for the participants.
"In four years, I've never seen the teens react to an experience like this one," Allen said.
During an opening talk by Chet D. Schuman, Penn College's director of admissions, Allen said she was sitting among a group of teens who, of the 47, had been the most resistant to the idea of going to college, and was pleased to find them the first to lead applause. She was even more touched when one of the students turned to her and said he wants to attend Penn College.
"I've never heard anything like that from him before," Allen said. "The bottom line is, they chose (to visit) a lot of big colleges because they knew the name. Here, they felt comfortable. It's a smaller environment and made them feel like people know them and care about them."
The teens and Camp Coca-Cola staff spent an evening in a residence hall and toured such campus areas as labs for construction and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning; the School of Hospitality kitchens and the college's Le Jeune Chef Restaurant; collision repair facilities; plastics and polymer engineering technology labs; nursing and dental hygiene labs; and graphic communications labs.
To learn more about Camp Coca-Cola, visit on the Web .