Southwestern College is hosting 52 students from Truesdell Middle School in Wichita at the three-day Builder Bound that camp began Wednesday.
According to DeAnn Nelson, a teacher at Truesdell, students on the honor roll at Truesdell were selected first followed by students who were close to achieving honor roll status and could benefit from the positive influences at Builder Bound Camp. Truesdell has nearly 1,000 students enrolled.
“These kids are really excited. To be selected amongst their peers and to be special is really good for our kids,” Nelson says. “A lot of our kids have never thought they could go to college so to get them on a college campus is going to be a good experience for them.”
“It’s exciting because I got chosen for being a good student. It was the best day of my life,” says Riley Brotherton, who will enter the seventh grade in the fall.
“Whoa, I am going to college,” was the first thing that an elated Maria Stephens thought when she heard that she would be attending the camp.
This is the fifth year that Southwestern has collaborated with USD 265 to provide a similar camp. For four years SC has partnered with Stucky Middle school thanks to a partnership developed between Dawn Pleas-Bailey, vice president for student life at Southwestern College, and Terrell Davis, the principal at Truesdell. In 2012 Davis was transferred to Truesdell and contacted Pleas-Bailey to see if Southwestern could provide a camp for a larger number of students. Many of these students are from economically disadvantaged families and would be first generation college attenders. Part of the mission of this camp is to expose these kids to the college experience and let them know that college is an option for them.
Ed Loeb, associate professor of mathematics at Southwestern, is leading the education side of the camp.
“The camp this year is organized into five distinct mini-courses,” Loeb says. “These courses include leadership, creative writing, television production, business and economic development, and a course in simple engineering and design. The students have been split into five teams that will each participate in one of the courses over the three days.”
Courses are staffed by SC faculty (Lindsay Wilke, Cheryl Rude and Michelle Boucher) as well as by alumni (Tommy Castor and Gio Garcia). Additionally, according to Loeb, instructors from The Independent School in Wichita and two from a small college in St. Louis will share their knowledge with the students.
“The courses will consist of nine hours of ‘seat-time’ over the three days as well as homework time in the evening for them to work on projects and materials for their classes,” Loeb says.
In addition to the classes, the students will go bowling at Hillcrest Lanes in Arkansas City and attend a movie at the Cowley 8 Cinema. Apart from these organized outings, time is built into the schedule for the kids to learn from their mentors about student success, discuss and develop a healthy image of themselves, and establish an understanding that college is attainable if they wish.
The camp staff this year is composed of current Southwestern College undergraduates and alumni. Student mentors include Paul Mata, Dejon Brison, Bethany Venn, CJ Bruce, Christine Sheppard, Gabby Gamez, Hayley Weston, Monica Gamez, Jordan Romines, Austin Sheppard, and Maggie Collett. These mentors will be working with campers in both the academic courses and also in the social aspects of the camp. Alumni involved in the camp are Brendt Winn, Justin Williams, Shelby Alexender, Tanner Seidel, RJ Schnack, Tashira Triplett, Gene Hartman, Tim Miser, and Anastasia Prokopis.
“This camp is phenomenal,” says Adam Bancroft, who works at Stucky Middle School and has been a part of the Builder Bound camp in the past. “We want to build hope with these kids. They were ready for camp from the moment they got off the bus. It’s nice to see a lot of familiar mentors and sponsors. To see the quality of college students, professors, and coaches here is tremendous. To see them here and willing to give up some of their summer time to be involved to spark an interest in these younger kids, it’s great.”
Southwestern College is a private institution granting undergraduate and graduate degrees and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. About 1,700 students attend classes at the main Winfield campus, at six professional studies sites in Kansas and Oklahoma, or online around the world.