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Camp with a cause

Students participating in the Summer Housing Career Youth Camp this week pose Tuesday around the playground at Willow Court Townhomes in Worthington as part of a service learning project in which the campers cleaned up the grounds of the property. Erin Trester/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — The Summer Housing Career Youth Camp is not just a fun four-day camp for high school students — it’s also intended to help youths achieve their career and educational goals. 

Youth camp coordinator Mai Ze Vue explained how the camp, which has been going on throughout this week, creates opportunities for youths in the community.

“The camp is for students grades 9-12, and we just try and point them in the right direction with careers and education,” Vue said.

Students take college visits during the camp to technical schools and universities and also explore their strengths to figure out what kind of jobs or careers would fit them best.

“We visited Minnesota West, on Wednesday (yesterday) we will visit Southwest Minnesota State University and on Thursday we’re visiting the University of Sioux Falls,” said Angel Bauman, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership’s community coordinator.

Bauman explained how the college visits are a critical part of the camp.

“This camp is for youths who are underserved and who maybe don’t have the opportunity to go with their parents to college visits,” she said.

Bauman also explained that students are required during camp to volunteer for community service projects. She said it helps students understand why volunteering is important, and how it looks good on college and job applications.

“Today (Tuesday) we are at Willow Court Townhomes, painting the pillars of the homes and cleaning up the playground to make it safe for the families who use it,” Bauman said.

Deb Onken, property manager of Willow Court Townhomes with Lloyd Management, said it’s the second year that the kids have participated in the service project.

“The kids are always very respectful, and they always do a great job at whatever is asked of them. It’s great to see them back again,” she said.

Mike Moore, ShopKo store manager, was in attendance at the service project after the store awarded the youth camp a grant for $250.

“This is a community service grant that we offer to any organization that represents the community that ShopKo is in,” Moore said.

Vue also said the camp receives a lot of support from the community.

“The YMCA gave the camp donations as well as Burger King, Pizza Ranch and Great Clips,” she said. “The Nobles County Integration Collaborative (NCIC) and ALC have also been very supportive with handing out over 75 applications to students for the camp.”

Bauman added that this group is the largest the camp has seen, with 26 students participating.

For today’s final day, students will be attending the Wild Water West waterpark as a celebration of their hard work during the camp.

“For most students this is their first time ever going to the water park, so it’s a huge deal,” Bauman said.

The youth camp is only offered once a summer. Applications for next summer can be picked up at the Nobles County Integration Collaborative, 117 11th Ave.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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