By Jennifer Smith
Sleeping in a hammock, nights singing kumbaya by the campfire – it sounds like a welcome break from the hum drum of a hot and sticky Oklahoma summer – until you have to use the restroom, one you have to make yourself!
At Camp NOCLIP, students spend time in the great outdoors, learn how to be a leader and explore the college enrollment process.
Three Northern Oklahoma College students, Sam Alvarado, Nicole Politis and Brittany Dennis are participating in a paid internship and three college credit hours through GEAR UP, a federally funded program administered by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
“This camp is meant for teenagers to gain practical life skills, prepare them for college and provide them with necessary support. We as interns will undergo training to be able to work with these teens in various scenarios and mentor them. There will also be some awesome activities such as kayaking and a ropes course,” Alvarado said.
These students are the first to run a GEAR UP camp for Oklahoma. GEAR UP encourages students to take advantage of the Oklahoma Promise Scholarship Program, a unique opportunity for eighth, ninth and 10th-grade Oklahoma students that will help pay for their college education if their family’s income is $50,000 or less and they meet certain academic and behavior requirements, according to the website.
For the past two weeks, the interns have been in leadership training preparing for the camp. Northern Oklahoma College’s GEAR UP advisor Jermie Fansler has supervised and encouraged them, even though they sometimes doubted their own ability to coach and lead.
“These kids are going to rock. I know the training they just went through. They have created the schedule we will be using for the camp, come up with games, structure and sequence,” Fansler said. “I’d put them with any group anytime.”
Alvarado, who is the youngest in his family, is nervous about being a leader.
“I’ve never had much experience with kids, especially being authoritative. It will be a challenge, but I’m ready for it,” Alvarado said.
Indoors, the interns will guide the campers through a mock college entrance process. The campers will stay in a dorm on the Northern Oklahoma College campus. They will get an acceptance letter, learn how to apply for financial aid, purchase books, reserve a dorm room and even receive a bill from the bursar’s office.
Dennis, who wants to be a family counselor after graduation, knows the camp will prepare students for college life, a process she wasn’t familiar with.
“Sam, Nicole and I came from not having the enrollment aid experience. I think this is an amazing opportunity for the campers. There is help, there are people that are willing to help you through the process. This can really change your life and get you to where you want to be. It’s exciting toget to help kids who don’t think it’s possible like we did,” Dennis said.
Politis, who wants to work with young children after graduation, said background and status don’t matter.
“I want to show them that no matter what their background is they can go to college. They can do something with their life. I believe most of them are coming from not very stable backgrounds,” Politis said.
After two weeks of sleeping in hammocks and participating in leader based scenarios, the interns are ready to serve, lead and have some fun.
For more information about GEAR UP or Camp NOCLIP, contact GEAR UP University director Jermie Fansler at 580.628.6211.
Posted on Mon, June 20, 2016
by Rae Kruse