We have successfully completed another TRIO Upward Bound Summer Program and it was one that will not be soon forgotten! For those of you who are friends with us on Facebook or follow our Twitter feed, you have probably seen some of the fun that we have had in the last six weeks (if you aren’t connected with our social media- DO IT!).
Hint: Search Upward Bound Cambridge Campus to become our friend on Facebook- the link above brings you to our “like” page. Facebook is so goofy.
This year the Summer Program started right after school let out- you can blame the crazy Minnesota winter and all of the school closings for that one. Without even a small break as a reprieve from academics our dedicated students jumped right into their summer classes. This year students took Math, English, Physics or Environmental Science and Spanish. Our teachers for the Summer Program were amazing and I think it’s safe to say that our students were entertained as well enriched in all subject areas. Some of the academic fun included using their creative brains to dream up their ideal Utopian world in English and debating with other groups about who had the best Utopian society, making roller coasters and launching rockets in Physics class, creating murals on the sidewalks of the college for Spanish class and taking samples from the pond for Environmental Science. Students had the opportunity to take part in hands-on learning and many students enjoyed the academic portion of our summer. The intention of the Summer Program is to enrich our students’ learning experience and prepare them for the upcoming school year.
What is a good Summer Program without some non-classroom fun?!? This summer we designated Mondays as our field trip days and we were able to get students off campus and out exploring what our great state has to offer! We started off the summer with a couple of college visits and a kickoff BBQ. Students had the option of college tours at Metropolitan State University and St. Thomas University where they were able to see the campus and learn about all that these two schools had to offer. We all met back at ARCC for a BBQ put on by Chef Ryan- our Upward Bound Director. Now, if you ask the kids they were not the biggest fan of his BBQ skills but he will have a chance for redemption soon.
Our second Monday trip was a wild one- we took our students for a sunny afternoon at Como Zoo. Students had a great time checking out all the animals and botanical gardens and then we met on the lawn for a pizza picnic (because honestly, what is TRIO without Dominos?)
Our final Monday trip we ventured out of Minnesota and headed over to River Falls, Wisconsin for a tour of their beautiful campus. Students got to see what this college offered and enjoyed yet another meal in the college dining hall (it’s the small things in life, really). The feedback from this adventure was great and we had a lot of students show interest in this school.
An update on our video competition for those of you who read our last blog post and want to know how it turned out. Students did and AMAZING job working in small groups to create videos that encapsulate the fun and fulfilling opportunities that TRIO Upward Bound has provided them with. We had a total of 5 videos completed at the end of the Summer Program and we spent an afternoon watching the videos and celebrating all the hard work that our students put into them. For those of you who have never created a video- it’s not easy! Lots of coordination and technology skill were needed to make the videos come together into a project that our students were proud to present to others. Although at times the process was frustrating and took a great deal of patience on the part of our students, they did a great job and should be proud of their efforts! Upward Bound staff had the difficult task of choosing one of the videos to submit to the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) video competition and this is the one we picked TRIO Upward Bound: Having Fun while Achieving Our Dreams
Last but certainly not least, we closed out the summer with an unforgettable trip to Winona, Minnesota for three days of fun, friendship and #TRIOfamily bonding time. This year is a bit different than past summers due to the budget cuts that we faced- the advisors had to work hard and be creative on a tight budget. I think it’s safe to say that this trip surpassed everyone’s expectations.
We headed out on Wednesday morning and drove straight through to Winona. The scenery on the bus ride south was awesome and students were anxious to arrive and get their mini-vacation started! Winona State University was gracious enough to host us for the three days we were in town and we had the pleasure of staying in one of their new suite-style residence halls. Needless to say- students were impressed with their digs and us advisors had to gently remind them that this residence hall is far from “traditional” (lets be real- air conditioning in college?!? Keep dreaming kids). Day one was filled with activities for our students to take part in. Our first adventure was a campus tour and admissions presentation from our gracious hosts at Winona State University. Students got to see what Winona had to offer and sampled some delicious college dining hall cuisine. No college campus visit is complete without a trip through the bookstore as well- students got to spend some money that was burning a hole in their pocket and many picked out some Warrior gear to sport for the next three days. In the afternoon on Wednesday we took the opportunity to enjoy the AWESOME weather and we flocked to the local beach. Students had a blast swimming, catching some rays and throwing around the football. It seems like a little structured free-time was just what they needed. We wrapped up our first night away in the best way we knew how- cosmic bowling. The staff at Winona Bowl provided great service- they turned on the cosmic lights, cranked up some tunes and gave our students two hours of bowling fun. Let’s just be honest- our students are awesome and could have fun anywhere, but neon lights and loud music really got them going! There were mini-dance parties and bowling contests along with literally hundreds of selfies (because, why not?!).
Day two provided another beautiful scenic drive as we made our way into La Crosse, Wisconsin for a tour of their campus. Students enjoyed the college visit as well as another opportunity to buy some goodies at the bookstore and eat yet-another dining hall meal. Our second stop on day two was a pretty cool site- we drove all the way to the top of Grandad Bluff and students were able to walk out to the edge of the overlook and snap some pictures. The bus ride up to the top was pretty intense being that the bluff is located 600 feet up (our bus drivers are awesome, by the way) and students were wondering how we were going to get back down (reverse, duh). In mid-afternoon students go the choice: head back to the beach or head to the movie theater for some quiet time. Students who went to the movie got to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 and students who went to the beach enjoyed another day in the sun. Our event-filled day two wrapped up with a buffet style dinner at the Green Mill in Winona where students enjoyed the company of their fellow TRIO members and had the opportunity to chat with people that they don’t get to see all the time. Before heading back to the residence hall for the night we made an impromptu stop at the local Dairy Queen and ended the evening with a sweet treat (they were also great- 75 people shuffling through a tiny Dairy Queen is not easy).
Day three was our final leg of the trip and we had to hit one more college before making the trek back north. We were able to have a great campus visit and admissions presentation from the folks at St. Mary’s University in Winona- their staff from the Student Success Center even put on a family-feud style game that the students really enjoyed. After another dining hall experience and walk through the bookstore students were ready to board the bus and head home. Even though our trip was a shorter one this year, I think it’s safe to say our students were ready to be back in the comfort of their own homes! Overall our Summer Program was a great success and the end-of-the-year summer trip was icing on the cake.
One theme that we have been working on instilling into our Upward Bound program this year is the idea of TRIO family- we want our students to feel support from all other Upward Bound students, not only the fellow TRIO members at their respective schools. TRIO Upward Bound is an opportunity to receive support from not only TRIO advisors but literally hundreds of other students who are on the same adventure.
We want to thank everyone who made our trip great, without the support of parents and the diligent work of the Upward Bound Staff our Summer Program just wouldn’t be the same. And for all of you TRIO students out there- your dedication to this program and attitude in general are not overlooked. You are what makes the TRIO Upward Bound Summer Program what it is- an unforgettable memory. Thank you to everyone and we are looking forward to another great school year!