College of Education to Host SMART Leadership Camp

A photo of Pinellas County School students participating in a field trip to Fort De Soto during a USFSP College of Education SMART summer camp

USFSP College of Education campers learned about Marine Science during a field trip to Fort De Soto Park during a previous summer camp.

The USF St. Petersburg College of Education (COE) will host a SMART Camp, an academic and enrichment summer camp for 60 rising fifth grade students, June 20-July 15.

The camp emphasizes not only knowledge and skills in the areas of Science, Math, Art, Reading, and Technology, but also leadership and character qualities.

“There are leadership and character components built into every aspect of this camp,” said Harris Ambush, community liaison for the College of Education who oversees the camp. “We’ll help them understand various leadership qualities, such as being truthful, kind, and of good character. Will also will help them learn why they can do these things and ways they can put these traits into action.”

The students were selected by administrators and teachers at the six participating schools as potential leaders. The idea is that the students will bring the leadership qualities they learned at the camp with them to school in the fall to positively encourage their peers to be better students and to exhibit leadership qualities. The graduating campers will become members of fifth grade leadership clubs that COE students will help sustain at all six schools.

“There’s also an angle of motivation and sustainability,” said Ambush. “Second and third graders may see what their fourth grade peers are getting to do at this camp and they may be inspired or intrigued and want to get involved as well.”

This is the fourth year the camp will be offered, and it is expected to be the largest camp to date thanks to the support of a grant funded by the Juvenile Welfare Board. Pinellas County Schools has been a strong and supportive partner, providing busing and school teachers as instructors for the camp. PCS also will supply breakfast and lunch for the student participants. USFSP Campus Recreation also is a significant partner through camp logistics and activities.

Male and female USFSP students from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education will serve as camp counselors.

Dr. Bill Heller, dean of the College of Education, cites the camp as one example of how the college engages with the community.

“We want to invite and encourage more people from across the campus to visit and meet the kids while they are here,” Heller said. “I can tell you, they will truly make your day.”