Alum-Run Camp Offers Colgate for the Summer

Lindsay Skerker

Not many Colgate students realize this but, over the summer, our school turns into a glori-fied campground. Every dorm houses its own camp. Curtis is taken over by high school soc-cer players, Cutten houses the volleyball camp and East and West become home to the music camp. For the past two summers, I have been lucky enough to work as a counselor at a sleep-away camp here called the Science and Sports Camp, located in Drake.

The camp was started by Janna Pistiner Ostroff ’01, who became a high school science teacher at the Renaissance Charter School in Queens, N.Y.. She wanted her students to have more accessibility to a summer camp experience and to see what a small liberal arts college was like, so she decided to start the camp through the Howard Hughes Medical Grant and the Upstate Institute. The camp runs for the first two weeks of July, and this past summer there were 44 campers coming from the boroughs of New York City, surrounding towns of Madison County, Utica and Chicago.

Co-director Pistiner Ostroff graduated sum-ma cum laude from Colgate, earning her B.A. in chemistry and education. Her career at The Re-naissance Charter School began in 2003, where she taught chemistry, humanities, fitness and general science. As a teacher in an urban envi-ronment, she noticed that most of the graduat-ing seniors from her high school went on to col-leges in the city, as those were the schools closest to home and the most familiar. She wanted to try to break that cycle by telling her students about liberal arts colleges, and that was when she came up with the idea to start a camp for her students to see what a rural, residential col-lege experience would be like. From the begin-ning, the goal of the camp was to get motivated but under-represented students excited about science and sports, since many of her students from Queens did not have regular access to an array of sporting activities.

“It’s very hard to find a summer program that combines science and sports, and that’s what makes it so unique to our campers,” co-director Courtney Savage said.

The two seemingly opposing fields of science and sports give individual campers the chance to shine in many distinct areas. One of the best aspects of the camp is the way it teaches teamwork and camarade-rie. The campers are broken up into four groups that attend science classes together and then compete in the four main sports throughout the course of the camp.

“I really love the group of kids that come to this program. We bring together a group of students who wouldn’t oth-erwise share their summer experience together,” Savage said. “One of the beau-tiful results of our program is that we bring them together through teamwork, cooperation and friendship, and by the end, they leave as a family.”

Contact Lindsey Skerker at [email protected]