CSM Kids’, Teen College Turns 30

Registration is Open for Summer Courses that Start June 20

The College of Southern Maryland Kids' and Teen College celebrates its 30th year with youth camp offerings that have kept pace with technology and popular culture. Classes begin June 20 and include sessions from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. through Aug. 12.

“In classrooms where days are structured and paced to meet benchmarks, teachers don't always have the luxury of offering topics that are outside of their curriculum and students don't always have opportunities to linger on subjects that interest them. Summer vacation is so important because it provides time for students to explore without interruption,” said CSM Youth Program Coordinator John Terlesky.

“Summer programs are designed so that there will be something for everyone, whether the student is interested in computers, acting, art or cooking the subjects can be explored at the student's pace,” said Terlesky.


30 Years of Summer Fun

In 1986, CSM offered its first summer classes with science adventures and art adventures. Sports camps were added soon after.

“We offer classes based on what we are hearing from students and parents. If instructors have a special talent or interest and want to develop a course, we consider those ideas as well,” said Terlesky.

When Annie Sutten enrolled her daughter in a summer program at CSM in 1994, she knew it would be a fun summertime activity for her child. What she didn't know was that the summers of learning and fun, would stretch out for many years and include all three of the Sutten children.

“The summer camps gave all my children an opportunity to learn new skills and keep active during their break from school while having fun. As a working parent, this was a 'win-win' for all of us,” said Sutten.

In 2000, the summer program was named Kids' College and since then has offered more than 516 different courses taken by more than 13,000 students at La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick campuses, and includes extended care morning and afternoon options for parents.

It's not unusual for students to move from Kids' College to Teen College to counselor, said Terlesky. “We've also had counselors come back as instructors. This is a nice place to spend summer break and it makes for a friendly and welcoming atmosphere,” he said.

In 2014, nearly 95 percent of all course offerings were new or revamped.

“Kids' and Teen College aligned its programming with the Common Core to help students become more excited about learning throughout the school year,” said Youth Course Manager Jennifer Hamilton. “Survival courses modeled after Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and Chronicles of Narnia were added to help students increase self-confidence, and learn basic first aid and survival skills.” 

“A lot of things have changed in the 30 years since CSM summer camp program started-but not the emphasis on fun,” said Terlesky, who has worked at CSM for 25 years.


Summer Fun for Instructors, Too

Long-time Kids' and Teen College instructor CSM Professor of Mathematics Sandy Poinsett, started teaching Kids' College in 2000. To keep the workshops fresh, Poinsett does extensive research on fun and creative ways to present the subject matter, and, she says, she keeps a loose agenda and wiggle room to allow her to shift gears to match student interest.

“The overall object is to have fun while learning,” Poinsett said. “The best part of teaching Kids' College is watching kids overcome challenges and become excited about their accomplishments,” said Poinsett.

“I ran into a middle school student I taught one summer who told me that in high school he created games that he shared with friends, was on his high school robotics team, and helped with his high school's web site?all using skills he learned at Kids' College,” said Poinsett.

Among the Kids' and Teen College robotics instructors is CSM Technology Professor Joe Burgin who will take a break from college-level cybersecurity, web and program design courses to teach students computer programming and robot design skills.

Burgin started teaching Kids' and Teen College 15 years ago, adding ideas for camps such as creating video games, robotics and 3-D programming each summer.

New to teaching Kids' and Teen College in 2015 was Kristina Pagel, a teacher at Mitchell Elementary School in Charles County who taught cake decorating, mini chef challenge, keyboarding, Lego math and Mad Scientist.

“This was such a rewarding opportunity that I have signed up to return this summer. The classes are so motivating and engaging for the kids and they walk away learning about their area of interest.”


Let the Fun Begin, Again

            Student favorites from summer 2015 were “Minecraft Designers” and “Minecraft Modders,” “Mad Scientist in Training,” “Pets and Vets,” “Spaceflight Institute” and “Cake Decorating.”

            “Those classes are all revamped and back by popular demand,” said Terlesky.

            All ages can enjoy cooking with courses that explore healthy snack foods, baking and decorating.

Early Learners go hands-on in “Food Art” which uses everyday snack foods to create unique edible works of art and “Junior Chef” which uses math, measurement, vocabulary and reading to create snacks or meals without using an oven.

For Kids' College students, “For the Love of Chocolate” explores the art of chocolate with decadent recipes and “Desserts & Pastries” explores baking and designing flaky, fluffy pastries and deserts from scratch. 

Teens can take their cooking skills up a notch with “World Chef Teens” to learn culinary secrets and how to make and 'throw' pizza dough, “Cup Cake Wars” to learn techniques for using frosting as a means of artistic expression and “Master Chef Challenge” to learn to prepare a new dish?and face a different challenge?each day, with a final round on the last day of class.

A wide variety of courses in the arts for ages 7-10, including “Class Act” and “Wanna Be a Star,” allow students to pursue interests in acting and singing. “Drawing Basics,” “Painting Picasso” and “Starving Artists” guide students in art history, fundamentals and techniques.

Reading camps for ages 7-10 include sessions with American Girls characters exploring life in a variety of time periods, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and “Hard Cover Harry Potter.” Children ages 5-7 will learn how to be a good friend by showing kindness, being responsible, truthful, helpful and respectful through a course using “Clifford the Big Red Dog” books as inspiration to create their own story and illustrations.

Teens' College computer, video gaming and graphic animation courses for ages 11-14 require no experience and will have students designing a Lego film, a mobile app, a computer controlled robot or a computer game by the end of the course.

Students who love the game Minecraft will learn how to create their own characters and buildings in “Minecraft Designers.” In “Code Breakers” students will learn the basics of coding languages like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS through a series of web projects and design challenges. Using interactive graphics, in “3-D Programming” students explore their creativity in a virtual world by designing a set where their players act out a scene in an animated movie. In “Make Your First 3-D Video Game,” students learn the physics behind 3-D games and develop a game concept through event scripting, level design, controlling flow of gameplay and storytelling.


“Many of our courses are replicated with age-appropriate content in chemistry, art, cooking, reading and animals which have sessions for each age group,” said Terlesky.

            Registration is open for Kids' and Teen College through www.csmd.edu/edu/Go/Register  through on-campus registration or by mail. Courses are listed by age groups with Early Learners ages 5-6, Kids' College for ages 7-10, and Teens' College for ages 11-14. Course catalogs are available at each campus or online at www.csmd.edu/KidsCollege.