by SAMANTHA WALLA, Asst. Editor
This summer, while most Jaspers will be scattered across the world relaxing, taking internships and studying abroad, a new program will be operating on Manhattan College’s campus.
This program, currently named Jaspers Kids Summer Camp, will run from June 25 to August 17 on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and serve children ages 5 to 14.
The camp expects to expose fifty to sixty children from the surrounding Riverdale community, as well as the children of faculty members, to a collegiate atmosphere.
Despite having the facilities to run a camp like this, the college has always rented space to other institutions during the summer months.
Edgar Zavala, the new Director of Non-Credit Programs, aims to change this. Announced just last Wednesday, Zavala is part of a new strategic plan to develop non-credit initiatives that will add to that to the college’s current academic and educational offerings.
Zavala states that the college is looking to develop leadership and education within the local and college community through this program.
“I believe as a parent and as a higher education professional that it really fosters the interest of individuals coming to university and feeling attached and close to it and seeing it’s nothing to be afraid of to go to college.”
The closest Manhattan College has come to running a program like this is the Summer Engineering Awareness program. “[The Engineering Program] basically touches the lives of individuals when they’re sixteen, seventeen,” said Zavala. “[Jaspers Kids] will give us an opportunity to touch the lives of individuals younger than them and have them feel the environment of a university or college, and start working with them and help them figure out if they want to be engineers later or in computers or arts or whatever it is.”
Despite being in the early stages of organization, Zavala is certain about his desire to staff with members of the Manhattan College community.
Zavala will serve officially as Camp Operator, but the camp is currently looking for a Day Camp Director and a Health Camp Director before proceeding with other developments.
As for the Day Camp Director position, Zavala is open to hiring a student with enough experience.
“I’m looking for a leader. I’m looking for a person who’s not afraid of talking, afraid of interacting with people,” said Zavala. “It needs to be a person that not only has the technical credentials but also has the personality to be a leader, to feel comfortable in approaching the people and being that public face to the parents and to anyone else in any other city department.”
Zavala is beginning by building an advisory committee to help in choosing activity counselors from the undergraduate schools to work in the program. “We’re not only going to be touching the lives of the campers but also the people that are going to be working in this program, so that we foster the ability to be leaders and to teach others, all these different things together.”
These activity counselors will be experts in subjects like computers, art, music and reading and will work to develop the activities for campers. In addition to these activity counselors, Zavala will also be looking for senior counselors within the Jasper community to act as chaperones during the camp day.
While it is still too early to talk about pricing and sign-ups, the Manhattan College community is still excited to develop Jaspers Kids Summer Camp. Tim Ward, Dean of Engineering, is glad to be diversifying the scope of programs offered by Manhattan College.
“The School of Engineering has a long history of conducting summer programs for high school students interested in STEM, so the School is looking forward to being part of this new program to bring younger children to campus,” said Ward. “It is the School’s intention to help Director Zavala make this program a beacon for the local community.”
This beacon for the community has already begun to bring pride to those involved, even in the developmental stage.
“It is my honor to participate as a member of the Advisory Committee of Operations and represent the Student Life Division to support this unique initiative,” said Jessica Aviles, Director of Events Management at MC. “This opportunity will provide the community’s youth access to Manhattan College’s long history of excellence in education. It is a true campus-wide initiative that will bring together students, faculty, and administration in an effort to better serve our local community.”
Once a Day Camp Director is secured, Zavala and his advisory committee will continue to develop the programs for camp attendees and fill activity counselor positions.
Interested Jaspers with strong leadership, creativity and spirit should keep watch for postings regarding Jaspers Kids Summer Camp in the coming months.