The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


June 2, 2013

'Get kids off the couch' | Region's summer camps offer arts, sciences, music and much more

JOHNSTOWN — Day camps featuring outdoor activities, science, art, theater, music and more will enable children to learn while having fun this summer.


Youngsters will explore the great outdoors on the Pitt-Johnstown campus in Richland Township and the Quemahoning Reservoir near Hollsopple during the university’s annual Junior Naturalist Outdoor Adventure Camp for children ages 8 to 14.

The camp will be held from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. June 24-28.

Outdoor activities include rappelling, kayaking, canoeing, tyrolean traverse, wilderness survival, ultimate frisbee and outdoor yoga.

Jeanne M. Susko, director of community education and outreach at UPJ, said an interesting twist to this year’s Rock Your Summer program is the theme of My Sustainable Planet, which will focus on the ecology surrounding a variety of activities.

“Our campers will learn the importance of protecting their environment,” Susko said. “We will focus on giving children the ability to create a sustainable lifestyle that reduces their carbon imprint through conservation education.”

Each participant will receive eight hours of conservation education and will be certified as a junior naturalist.

Retired military paratrooper Doug Crytzer of Greensburg, president of American Adventure Sports, will manage the junior naturalist program.

“They can kayak, fish and snorkel at the Que,” Susko said. “Doug’s goal is to get kids off the couch and develop a more active lifestyle.”

By building a foundation of trust with the campers, the camp’s mentors encourage children to go outside of their comfort zones.

“We want our participants to exercise more than their thumbs from playing video games,” Susko said. “The only failure is not trying.”

The students will be in good hands as instructors are certified in swift-water response, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and wilderness first aid.

“Some of the most popular activities kids enjoy are rappelling the rock wall and flying through the treetops on a zip line,” Susko said. “Some kids hesitate doing things until they develop a trust. But when they do, it has proven to be one of the most enjoyable and challenging nontraditional activities.”

For students seeking a more traditional classroom setting, UPJ will offer its LEARN Camp for youth ages 8 to 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 8-12.

“We have some cool classes on campus for kids, and that ties in with our college-is-for kids mission,” Susko said. “A portion of the program offers five specific classes each of the five days as students move from one building to another on campus.”

The classes will be alternative energy, cool computers, dinosaur discovery, fitness challenge and spectacular Spanish.

“It’s very well-rounded,” Susko said. “These are different kinds of activities that wouldn’t be done in a typical classroom.”

In the alternative energy class, youngsters will experiment with solar and wind energies, bio-fuels and hydropower while building magnetic levitation cars, water-powered rockets and solar-powered cars.

“We pull in kids from all over the region, and we also have regular out-of-state participants who are here visiting relatives on an extended stay,” Susko said.

In addition, the university offers its Summer Fun package of more than 30 classes for kids ages 4 to 14 from July 15 to Aug. 15. Selections are aimed at older scholars, little learners and tiny tots.

“We literally have something from A to Z – Adventures in Italy to Zany Zoology,” Susko said. “We view this as an a la carte program where students may choose one class or several.”

For the youngest campers, Camp Preschool, geared toward children ages 4 to 6, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon July 22-26.

Other classes range from Wonderful World of Dr. Seuss and Puppet Theater to Volcanos and Earthquakes and Kitchen Chemistry.

“My suggestion to anyone interested in attending a specific class would be to register early,” Susko said. “Some classes and activities have limited space.”

Information or registration:

269-2099 or go online to and download a pamphlet.

St. Francis University

 High school sophomores and juniors can earn college credits with hands-on experience during St. Francis University’s summer science, technology, engineering and mathematics academies.

The STEM academies are weeklong programs that allow students to experience field activities while completing projects in different areas.

Academies include: environmental engineering design, June 16-21; green chemistry, June 23-28; mad math, June 23-28; and gaming, July 7-12.

Students will receive two college credits.

Selected students will be provided with room and board and all course supplies and materials.

Information: 472-3878 or online at

For youngsters who will be entering grades 4 through 8 in the fall, the university is conducting summer science youth camps from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 17-21.

Children will choose two age-appropriate sessions – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  

Sessions are Adventures in Chemistry I/II, grades 4-5; Adventures in Chemistry III, grades 6-8; CSI: Loretto, grades 4-8; Robotics designed with First Lego League in mind, grades 4-8 and adults.

The classes are designed to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators, said Allison Felix, director of  St. Francis’ Science Outreach Center.

“The kids from grades 4 through 8 are in their formative years and want to explore career options and interests,” Felix said. “The idea is to get these kids into the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math.”

Felix said the classes being offered have been popular in the past.

“Robotics is one of the most popular classes we have and have had to add sessions because there has been so much interest,” she said.

Students will learn how to use the Lego Mindstorms robotic platform and build robotic creations that complete various missions on an interactive Lego playing field.

Participants are asked to bring a bag lunch each day with their name clearly marked. Water will be provided throughout the day.

Information: Call the science outreach center at 472-3878 or email

Cresson Lake Playhouse

Cresson Lake Playhouse will conduct its weeklong summer acting workshop from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 10-14 at the theater’s rehearsal hall, 526 W. Ogle St., Ebensburg.

The sessions are designed for eighth grade students through college freshmen.

“This is a Broadway-type workshop similar to the ones offered by Music Theater International, which typically costs about $1,600,” said Elaine Mastalski, executive director.

“For youngsters in our area, the cost is exorbitant, so we are offering a more sensible alternative for $250.”

The sessions will be directed by former Patton resident Ryan Skiles, a student at the University of Central Florida.

Skiles will conduct four modules of study during the week.

Participants will learn movement, mask, gymnastics, Laban physical energies and LeCoq breathing energies; acting, Michael Chekhov technique, basic elements of acting and Sanford Meisner technique; voice work, introduction to international phonetic alphabet and singing; and showcase preparation and performance, scene work, monologues and songs.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our talented youngsters to work with a master of theater,” Mastalski said.

Information: 472-4333 or visit

Community Arts Center

Community Arts Center of Cambria County, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont, will have art camp sessions called Get ARTY This Summer! for ages 3 to 14.

Camps will be held June 18-20, July 9-11 and 16-18, July 30 through Aug. 1 and Aug. 6-8.

Lida Hood, arts center education coordinator, said the June session will include several popular returning classes.

A beach session will have young artists making a minibeach scene complete with sand and an aquarium made from CD cases using glass paint.

A pirate session will feature a 3D treasure map, Jolly Roger flag and dressing as pirates.

“This one was so popular last year, we had to break it up into two classes,” Hood said.

A new acting class for ages 6 to 8 will be taught by a member of Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company.

Standard classes will include drawing, painting and pottery.

“We might do a 3D optical illusion for the older group,” Hood said.

Special events in the July and August sessions will integrate art, books and movies as subject matter.

 “The BFG,” or Big Friendly Giant, by children’s author Roald Dahl, which also was made into a movie, will be the subject of one session.

The BFG is a 24-foot-tall giant with superhuman hearing and immense speed whose primary occupation is the collection and distribution of good dreams to children.

“We will make dream catcher jars,” Hood said.

Another session will focus on “Epic,” a 3D computer animated fantasy-adventure film now in theaters.

It is loosely based on William Joyce’s children’s book “The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs.”

In the movie, a teenager finds herself transported to a deep forest setting where a battle between the forces of good and evil is taking place.

“I try to pick movies the children have seen or are just coming out,” Hood said.

Another session will feature recycling and will end with a “trashion” show where participants can model their creations.

The cost of each camp session is $15 for members and $17 for nonmembers.

The cost of special-event sessions are $30 for members and $33 for nonmembers.

While preregistration is requested, the arts center tries to accommodate everyone.

“We have a lot who sign up that morning,” Hood said.

Information: 255-6515.

Bottle Works

Art camps at Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center, 411 Third Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown, will feature art history and painting, song writing and drumming.

Mini-Master Artists, with instructor Joanne Mekis, will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

July 23-25.

Campers ages 7 to 11 will learn about art history in the Renaissance, Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism and surrealism periods and will be painting, drawing, making self-portraits and using different media to create a variety of art and other usable items.  

“This was Joanne’s idea and concept,” said Rosemary Pawlowski, executive director of Bottle Works. “Students will learn about art history and then paint in that style.”

Students also will be playing art games and doing some creative racing and should bring a lunch and beverages for the all-day sessions.

There will be a show of artwork created by the students at the end of the last day.

Cost of the camp, which includes materials, is $75 for nonmembers and $70 for members.

Hey, Let’s Write a Song, a workshop guided by members of the local songwriting group Songworks, will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. July 27.

The workshop is open to students in grades 4 through 12 from area schools and will give students the chance to learn how to create an original song.

The format will include the basics of music such as major and minor keys, tempos, rhythm and time signatures, scales and song forms.

“This is not for newbies,” Pawlowski said. “It was Songworks’ idea to do this. Sometimes kids are writing songs and don’t know theory, so this should fill in the blanks. Songworks enjoys doing outreach and sharing.”

Students also will learn about writing lyrics, the parts of a song and composing the song into a form as well as how recordings are made and critiquing their work and the work of others.           

Students will perform their compositions at the end of the workshop.

The performance will be recorded, and CDs will be sent to all participants after the workshop.

Students who play guitars may bring them to use in the writing process.

The fee per student is $15 for Bottle Works members and $20 for nonmembers.

The Secret of Rhythm is Listening will presented by Johnny Bayush and Friends from

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 15-17.

The three-day workshop will focus on rhythm patterns and basic drumming.

 “We have all the percussion here, and there will be a Saturday performance,” Pawlowski said.

The cost is $75 for nonmembers and $70 for members.

There is a discounted price of 50 percent off for siblings attending any of the art camps.

Registration: 536-5399.

Art Works

Imagine, Create, Discover, weeklong, age-appropriate camps designed to encourage artistic expression, art appreciation, imagination and understanding for kids ages 5 to 12, will be held at Art Works in Johns-town, 413 Third Ave. in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

Paint-n-Play for ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 will be held from 9 a.m. to noon July 8-12.

Campers will discover new ways to paint using watercolors, tempera, puff paints and inks.

Using unusual painting tools, they will explore textures, play with colors and create their own painted masterpieces.

Trash into Treasure for ages 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 will be held from 9 a.m. to noon July 15-19.

This camp will look at how junk can make some of the greatest art. Students will transform discarded objects into works of art.

Mixed Media & Photography Mayhem for ages 7 to 9 and 10 to 12 will be held from 9 a.m. to noon July 22-26.

Students will take photographs and learn how to incorporate them into their artwork in a variety of fine art mediums, including acrylic, watercolor, charcoal drawing and mixed media.

It is not necessary to bring a camera to camp.

The cost for any of the camps is $70 per week for nonmembers and $60 for Art Works members.

There is a discounted price of 30 percent off for siblings attending any of the art camps.

Any one who signs up for two camps can attend a third week free.

Total payment is due upon camp registration.

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