Summer Fun at Weather Camp

In a few short weeks, the school year will be wrapping up for the kids and a big question seems to come up right around this time.  What are we going to do this summer?  Well, summer camp is always a popular option.  There are camps for kids to fine tune their sports skills, get a better handle on playing in the school band, recreational camps where they can rough it, and one that I would have signed up for immediately, Weather Camp.

As I have made mention of in the past, there are a handful of Weather Camps that are offered around the country, but being a proud Penn State alum, I am going to focus on the one offered at University Park on the PSU campus.  For starters, 1 in 4 meteorologists is a graduate of Penn State and it is fitting that one of the best meteorology programs in the country offers not one but two different sessions each summer. One is for those students entering 8th-10th grade, while the other is a more advanced one for high school juniors and seniors.  Most exciting for me while I was a senior at PSU, I was fortunate enough to be a camp counselor for the 8th-10th grade session.  So I can certainly provide an inside scoop on how this fun filled week can spark the interest in children to become a skilled forecaster.

The week starts off like many camps you take the kids to, that being move in day.  Instead of lugging all of their stuff to a tent or cabin, you're getting a preview perhaps of the future by moving into a university dorm on Penn State's campus.  The dorms have seen some adjustments since my time living in them back in the late 90s/early 2000s, like not having landline phones in every room, the expanse of Wi-Fi availability, and certainly healthier food options in the dining commons, while other things never change.  With it being summer, there is no air conditioning (bring along one or more fans), somewhat slow rides on the elevator and if you're not a fan of the wait, there's always plenty of exercise you can get climbing the stairs.  Again, the good thing is this is for a week, not an entire semester.  Anyhow, once that is out of the way, the fun begins for the campers with a tour of the expansive & historic Penn State Campus, along with an in-depth look at the new digs of the Meteorology Department, the Joel N. Myers Weather Station.  Again, I'm jealous I haven't been back since the grand opening of this back in 2009, but talk about state of the art computers, resources and equipment.  This is certainly to the camper's advantage since they get the opportunity to launch a weather balloon, learn to how to read and decipher various radar, satellite and weather model maps, in addition to using these newly learned skills to compete in a forecasting contest. Add to that gaining this weather knowledge from some of the best meteorology professors around. But wait, there's more!

Did you know that Penn State is also home a television weather program, that has been on the air for nearly 30 years called Weather World? If you don't reside in Pennsylvania to catch it on PCN, weeknights at 5:45pm ET, you can view it on demand through the PCN website. The campers not only get a chance to watch a live taping of this in the studio, but also will get in front of the camera to record their own forecast. Similar to how I put together my forecast in the Weather Lab, the students will organize a few weather graphics, get in front of the green screen and present the forecast.  They do acquire some pointers along the way from the counselors,  but there is also a guest meteorologist (typically a PSU Meteo Alum) who drops by for a couple days to  provide a few expert tips.  When all is said and done, the campers get to take home a DVD of their work!

In addition to that, Penn State is only minutes away from the local National Weather Service Office in State College and one of the well known private forecasting companies in the U.S., AccuWeather.  Here they get to see the pros in action forecasting for the public & private sector.  And if there happens to be some severe weather happening, all the better when it comes to these field trips. Speaking of which, in the past the campers have also participated in a live video conference with a meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma. There are some other fun activities too during the week, like taking in a minor league ballgame, watching a weather themed movie, visiting with a Nobel Prize winning scientist, and venturing to the Penn State Natatorium.

Now that I've peaked your interest here are the details on the 2011 Penn State Weather Camp.  The camp takes place June 19th-24th for 8th to 11th grade students and June 26th-July 1st for the Advanced Weather Camp. Sadly the spots in the Advanced Camp are full, but there are still openings in the 8th-11th grade session.  Registration closes on June 1st. To get in touch with the camp planners, click on the Contact Page link.  And if I haven't painted enough of a picture of the wonders of Weather Camp, check out this YouTube video put together by a past camper.

For additional information on the weather camp check out the main page for the details and costs, the schedule to see what all goes on from day to day, and yes, they are even on facebook. And if you are a past attendee, be sure to leave some comments here on the blog. Oh to be a kid again and go off to camp :-)

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