By TYLER ELLYSON
KEARNEY – PAWS University is back and better than ever.
Hosted by the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the curriculum-based summer camps for students entering grades one through six are returning to an in-person format for 2021, with some exciting additions.
“Although we loved being able to provide PAWS University: Home Edition kits for community families last summer, our entire team is thrilled to have our campers back on campus for face-to-face learning,” said program director Amy Nebesniak, an associate professor in the UNK Department of Math and Statistics.
Last year, PAWS University created about 550 take-home kits each week, giving area families access to educational activities, books and projects, as well as other learning opportunities shared on the program’s website and Facebook page. The free program reached around 700 area youths.
This year, PAWS University campers can choose from a variety of one-week workshops, four-week academies and PAWS Plus options offered June 7 through July 2 on the UNK campus.
The one-week workshops allow parents to create an individualized experience for their child based on their specific interests. Sixteen different workshops are available for each of the three age groups – grades one and two, three and four, and five and six – covering topics such as coding, culinary arts, creative writing, folk dance, music, sports science, space, engineering, wildlife and much more.
A full list of workshops can be found here. The cost is $60 for each one-week workshop, or $40 for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
Two four-week academies are available.
Students entering grades four through six can sign up for the Performing Arts Academy, a unique opportunity to create and have fun while exploring the many aspects of music, theater and dance. Participants will learn choreography, make their own props, memorize dialogue, practice singing techniques and work as a team during this academy presented in collaboration with Crane River Theater and UNK Theatre.
Students will showcase everything they learned during a public performance of “Willy Wonka Kids!” scheduled for 10:30 a.m. July 2 in UNK’s Miriam Drake Theatre. This academy costs $240 per student, or $180 for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
The four-week Reading Academy, for students entering grades one through three, is designed to improve children’s reading skills through focused instruction and fun, on-campus field trips. A collaboration with UNK’s Calvin T. Ryan Library, this academy costs $240 per student, or $160 for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
UNK’s Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic is hosting a one-week Speech-Language Camp for students entering grades one through six. Participants will engage in fun articulation activities while advancing their speech-language skills in a focused, small-group setting. This camp costs $60 per student, or $40 for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
“All of our one-week workshops and four-week academies are designed to be engaging, educational and connected to campus,” Nebesniak said. “Not only will campers have fun with hands-on activities while continuing to learn throughout the summer, they’ll also start to see themselves as future college students.”
In addition to the workshops and academies, there are several PAWS Plus options to choose from. These include a library hour in the morning, lunch on campus and Spanish immersion and art classes in the afternoon. With PAWS Plus, students can attend PAWS University from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday.
PAWS University summer camps are led by UNK students and educators from area school districts. The program is supported by funding from Humanities Nebraska, EPSCoR and the U.S. CARES Act. All activities will be conducted with COVID-19 safety protocols in place.