Camp to Career: Preparing Children for Success

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s the infamous question we have all been asked or even asked someone else at some point. Children, however, are usually the group who are on the receiving end of this question the most, and their recurring answers include teachers, doctors, engineers, actors or singers, gamers, or even influencers. While some careers don’t provide a how-to on successfully landing the job, there are routes that can be taken to help children still pursue their passions.

Attending a summer camp focused on a child’s chosen career interest provides an opportunity for the child to not only explore their passion but also help them work toward turning their camp experience into a career. Many hiring managers or casting directors are often looking for previous experience, and by attending these career-focused camps, children are able to gain that experience at an early age.

When it comes to pursuing a career, half of the children know what pathway they want to take while others are still undecided. By attending a career-focused camp, they are able to pursue a variety of interests to help them narrow down their future choices.

LSU Pre-College Programs are summer camps hosted by the college’s academic departments. These camps allow campers to explore a variety of fields in a camp environment. Harald Leder, program manager at Gordon A. Cain Center for STEM Literacy, explains, “We focus on STEM fields, so all our courses, in one way or another, are either connected to engineering or to the natural sciences. That’s always a very, very important point, because you do need those courses to advance in any kind of college career. The more you have under your belt before you start college, the better it is.”

Courses at LSU include mathematics, biology, engineering, computer science, and esports. Leder says, “Even our esports program, it’s not just fun and games. A lot of people don’t realize that you can really have a very attractive career. We also have a course that teaches students sound engineering, or even how to build computer games. Again, it’s fun, but these are all very serious careers they can pursue.”

No matter the chosen avenue, campers are able to get a jumpstart on the career of their choice, among other benefits.

Children who are going into their chosen careers with experience under their belts are already standing out from the crowd. Career-focused camps help these children gain this experience early on, and they can keep returning each summer to fine-tune their skills or choose a different route to explore, all while networking with those who are already in the field.

Joelle Castille, Education, Gallery, and Outreach Director and Caroline Whitley, Education Assistant of Manship Theatre both share, “Manship Theatre offers a one-of-a-kind experience unique to Baton Rouge where kids perform on a professional stage led by industry experts in both the performing and technical aspects of live theatre. As campers enter the workforce, they have an advantage not only because of the experience they gained, but also because of the connections they made with professionals in our community.”

Manship’s camps provide children with an opportunity to explore the visual arts, including musical production and film production. All camps are run by art, theatre, and film professionals, and campers are able to experience singing, dancing, acting, screenwriting, behind-the-scenes experiences, and even film editing, depending on their chosen camp. All of these skills help campers explore their interest in a performing arts career.

Some camps will even take field trips, allowing campers to see everything in action so they can see what it’s like to perform the chosen career.

While these particular camps are unique in providing a starting point for a career, they also provide many of the basic skills seen in traditional camps: team building, problem-solving, communication, and leadership.

Gabriel Bostick, a former camper of Manship Theatre, explains, “Manship Theatre helped me expand my understanding of the theatrical world as more than just a place of performance but a haven for unique expression and meaningful growth! I found some of my closest friends, greatest mentors, and most supportive family at Manship, and was immediately immersed in a space that pushed me beyond my theatrical but also personable potential to the point that I walked away from each event with an expanded understanding of my gifts but also a variety of ways to utilize them to enrich the world around me!”

Attending a career-focused camp catapults children into the career of their choice, providing them with a unique–and fun–opportunity to explore their interests and get an early start at landing the job of their dreams.

This article was originally published in March 2024.

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