By VANESSA MEUIR
As the schools in Columbia close their doors for the summer, the Columbia Area Career Center is opening to the community.
The Career Center offers a summer camp that is designed to educate and inspire students who are beginning to dream of their futures. Open to students ages 10 to 15, the summer camp consists of weeklong courses that are focused on fun as well as instruction.
The Career Center offers summer courses in areas including the culinary arts, robotics, and film and digital media. Marketing coordinator Amy Parris believes that the range of courses offered makes the Career Center unique.
“We have classes from mock open heart surgery, to visiting a dairy farm, to building a rocket,” she said. “We have a little bit of everything, so if students have any interests, they can come here and further develop them.”Prices for the classes offered range from $125 to $159. The courses are designed to give students the opportunity to pursue their goals and passions in whatever area they choose.
What sets this camp apart from others is that it is designed to encourage students to explore their interests as they search for a possible career choice. The Career Center’s summer camp might not have a kickball field or a swimming pool, but it does have top-of-the-line technology and equipment that students are able to use in their courses.
In addition to hosting the opportunity for career exploration, the Career Center also houses enthusiastic administrators and an eager teaching staff. Amy Parris explained that the Career Center is designed to fit the needs of the community.
“The Career Center as a whole really focuses on trends and needs within the community,” said Parris. “We really want to focus on what the community needs are and how we can suit our program to help fit those needs.”
Students who enroll in the summer camp have the opportunity to dabble in introductory courses that aren’t offered until the high school level. Jeff Cochran teaches a digital film and special effects course that allows students to use industry standard hardware and software, including top-of-the-line computers, cameras and software.
“Offering this course was an opportunity to help provide something for students in the summer but also to whet their appetites and to help our enrollment when those students then get to the high school level,” Cochran said.
Cochran’s course offers educational skills not typically found anywhere else in Columbia. Students are given hands-on experience as they use camcorders to capture video, which they then edit and add special effects. Courses like Cochran’s are so popular that they are often over enrolled, but the students who are lucky enough to get in are given the attention of dedicated and experienced instructors.
“My personal philosophy has always been that I want to be a guide on the side and not that sage on the stage, and just help the students in whatever avenue or specialization that they want to take,” Cochran said.
Students throughout the community are encouraged to begin enrolling in any summer courses that interest them. The courses run from June to August. A wide variety of courses are offered, in the hope that every student will find a subject that interests them.
“Everybody always says that the career center is the best kept secret in Columbia,” Cochran said.
More information on the Career Center’s summer camps
View the brochure, which lists the dates of the classes offered, as well as pricing information. Check out the Summer Camp’s Facebook page, which has regular updates on the courses offered and pictures of class activities.