YouthPower365’s Camp College provides crash course for Eagle County high school students | VailDaily.com

YouthPower365’s Camp College provides crash course for Eagle County high school students

Jaimee Rindy
Special to the Daily

EDWARDS — Applying to college can be one of the most intimidating processes in a student's life, and without a proper support system, it can turn a student away from a life-changing opportunity. Thankfully, with the right resources, it can be the final exciting push that takes a student's aspiration from dream to reality.

Locally, one of those resources is the extensive four-day Camp College, which brings together college professors, counselors, alumni and current students to give Eagle County high school juniors and seniors all of the tips and tricks for how to be successful from application to graduation.

The camp, which is in its second year, is part of YouthPower365's PwrOn program. PwrOn helps prepare Eagle County students for college and career opportunities through pre-collegiate programming, scholarship collaboration, apprenticeships and internships.

Anything is possible

"I hope that they get inspired and can see that no matter what, going to college is a possibility, and it's not always unaffordable," said Camp College developer and counselor Jan Abbot, who, along with Alison Navarro and YouthPower365, designed and ran the camp.

Last year, every single Camp College student continued on to attend college, with the exception of one who went into the military. Abbot said that based on the feedback from the camp's first year, the students found the information regarding financial aid and scholarships to be the most beneficial.

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"In a lot of ways, they see that as being the biggest barrier," she said. "We want them to understand that there are options for them, whether it be through duel enrollment classes, Colorado Mountain College or scholarships."

YouthPower365 understands the importance of financial aid in the college decision, which is why the organization developed the longstanding Dollars for Scholars program — a streamlined scholarship application program that connects students with more than 30 community donors providing scholarships ranging from $500 to $20,000 annually to graduating students in Eagle County. Camp College spends a session on how to apply for scholarships and where students can go to receive additional financial aid.

'Opened my eyes'

Many of the Camp College enrollees will be the first in their families to attend college, so the camp provides them the opportunity to ask questions and get answers from qualified professionals with many years working with college students, as well as from college students themselves.

"I'm happy that I came (to this camp) because it really opened my eyes," said Victor Ortiz, of Battle Mountain High School. "For example, I didn't know that there were programs that allowed you to work and get experience in the field you want to study while still going to school."

Flor Vasquez, a senior at Battle Mountain, agrees. In fact, she found the camp so informative she enrolled two years in a row.

"I wanted a refresher since I'm going to be graduating this year, and I feel like this really does prepare you for college," she said.

For YouthPower365 Program Coordinator Brittany Kinney, the camp does more than just help those enrolled.

"The education that we provide students doesn't only impact their future, it trickles into their siblings lives, cousins, neighbors, etc.," she said. "When we give education to one child, it begins to spread, providing opportunities at a higher rate than ever before."

More resources

Campers got to hear firsthand experience stories from current college students from the Vail Valley, tips from a financial aid advisor, and all the dirty details from an actual college professor. Her biggest piece of advice: Show up to class.

Additionally, on the final day of the camp, the students got the chance to go on a full college tour and learn about the experience of living and studying on a campus. Last year, they visited Colorado Mesa University, and this year, they toured the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The success of Camp College is spurring YouthPower365 to develop further PwrOn programming with an emphasis on college informational material so all families in Eagle County have a resource to ask questions about this crucial time in their child's life.

To learn more about Camp College and PwrOn, vist http://www.youthpower365.org.