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College for Kids: Twenty-four years young

Sessions offered June 4 through July 21

In 1987, Minot State University Continuing Education coordinator Teresa Loftesnes, pregnant with twins, had kids on her mind. When her boss challenged her to expand the campus to a larger learning community, Loftesnes' efforts were serendipitous.

"I knew we needed to do something for kids," she said. "We solicited the faculty, asked if they were interested and what they'd like to teach. We wanted the experience to be rich for participants."

Loftesnes and her colleagues created a program targeted to an audience full of curiosity, energy and a lot of free time; and in early 1988, six months after the twins, College for Kids was born.

College for Kids originally offered a choice of eight camps, but has developed through the decades to include almost 30 kid-friendly learning opportunities, lasting a few hours each day, from two to five days. Camps are open to children six to 15 years of age, and cost between $35 and $55.

Perennial favorites are as varied as the campers themselves. In "Cheer Camp," led by the MSU Cheer Team, participants learn motions, jumps and a cheer routine. "Exploring Robotics" teaches campers to design and program real robots using a robotics invention kit and computers. "Salamanders, Frogs and Their Homes" incorporates two separate field trips exploring how salamanders and frogs live, where they breed, how they walk and swim and what they like to eat. Closer to home, "The Business of Babysitting" teaches the basics of CPR, First Aid and the roles and responsibilities of being a good babysitter. Contrary to popular belief, both "Salamanders" and "Babysitting" attract both boys and girls.

The surprise hit, according the Amy Woodbeck, professional development and community education coordinator, is "Stress Busters for Kids." Formerly known as "Inner Kids ... Inner Peace," this camp teaches kids how to use relaxation techniques to find more joy in their lives.

"My son enrolled in 'Stress Busters' two years ago when he was six, and he still remembers and uses relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, when he's stressed," Woodbeck said.

Enrollment averages about 350 participants each summer, and camps fill up fast.

"College for Kids runs June 4 through July 21 and already 10 of the 27 camps are full," Woodbeck added.

For more information, visit the CEL website or contact Woodbeck at amy.woodbeck@minotstateu.edu or 858-3989, toll free 1-800-777-0750, ext. 3989.