At a Glance
Connellsville Area Career & Technical Center (CACTC) runs summer and evening camps to raise awareness among prospective students about the CTC and the value of CTE programs it offers.
The CACTC Workforce Development Coordinator organizes career-themed camps for students in grades 6, 7 and 8. These camps, which typically run for three days during the summer or in the evening after school, provide prospective students with hands-on learning experiences that introduce them to a particular career field. Most of the camps aim to educate students about high priority occupations. They also raise general career awareness among participants and help promote CACTC as an option for students.
Since the first camp took place in 2017, the themes of the camps have addressed several career areas. For example, the Future First Responder camp featured a day of firefighting, a day of police operations and a day of EMT experiences. (To see photos from this camp, click here.) Other camps focused on health careers and heavy equipment, and in 2020 a camp will focus on electrical occupations. The camps are funded through a grant from the Workforce Investment Board.
The Workforce Development Coordinator organizes the camps and is in charge of promoting the camps to middle school students within the district. CACTC instructors that are interested in hosting a camp submit a proposal to the Workforce Development Coordinator, and she determines which camp proposal is selected to be funded. At this point, the CACTC instructor assumes responsibility for the daily operations of the camp including content, field trips, and guest speakers.
The Workforce Development Coordinator is responsible for publicizing the camps. The camp flyer is distributed to all middle school students and is posted on the district’s website. She also presents camp information to middle school students during a special assembly. The camp instructor and current students enrolled in that program of study also attend the assembly to generate interest in the camp.
Because the camps are grant-funded, middle school students enroll at no cost. The CACTC does not incur any costs for the camp. In addition, students are provided with lunch, snacks, t-shirts, and a CPR certification (for health-related camps) at no cost.
Usually, one camp is offered each summer during the week after school is out. After school camps are offered once or twice a school year depending on the availability of grant funding. The number of students in a camp can range from 15 to 20 students. Most camps are capped at 20 students.
The main challenge with running a camp is collecting paperwork from prospective students. If the camp is being funded through a TANF grant, the paperwork for applicants can be cumbersome, and it is challenging to collect applications in a timely manner. To overcome this challenge, the Workforce Development Coordinator works closely with the middle school guidance counselor, who helps with collecting the applications and communicating with students.
CACTC plans to continue offering the camps. Of the students who attended a camp, 64 percent of them eventually enrolled in the CTC.