Category: Behind the Scenes

Introducing our 2019 SYP Head Staff Team!

SYP Head Staff
L to R Front: Grace Kluchka, Mallory Benkert, Skylar Callis  | Back Row: Zachary Smith and Rob Lambert

As the start of Summer Youth Programs quickly approaches, we are very excited to introduce you to our 2019 SYP Head Staff team. This amazing group of Michigan Tech students take on additional leadership in the summer, including training during orientation, coordinating staff schedules, and problem-solving when the unexpected arises.

During the first few head staff meetings, they shared what they are most looking forward to this year. Here are a few of their thoughts:

I have been a counselor in the past and really enjoyed igniting students’ passion for STEM and asking them questions.  I am looking forward to using my past experiences as an activity and day counselor to solve any issues and develop some new campus activities that are free/low cost for participants to try.

Grace Kluchka, Head Activities Counselor

Returning Head Operations Counselor Robert Lambert shared the value of being a second-year as a Head Counselor and third year member of the SYP staff.

I really enjoyed last summer as a head counselor and grew a lot as a leader and a person. This year I am starting with a better understanding of my role and bringing more experience and attention to details.

Mallory Benkert worked with SYP last year as a Student Coordinator; this year, she will bring those strong organizational skills to the leadership team as as Head Counselors’ Counselor. And, no, you didn’t read that wrong—although it is an odd job title! The HCC is in charge of scheduling, general check-ins, and any concerns from the staff members themselves.

I was motivated to apply to be on the leadership team so I can be more “in” the scenes than “behind” the scenes.

Zachary Smith and Skylar Callis also bring a summer of experience to their roles, and will both be taking on new perspectives within SYP. Zach worked at the front desk last year and will move into the Head Residence Counselor Role. Skylar, meanwhile, is taking on Head Operations with Rob after spending last year as a Residence Counselors.

As June approaches and final plans fall into place, we are very excited to work with this Head Staff and our full SYP team to bring another great summer of programs to you. We come back year after year, too, because as it turns out, we love this opportunity just as much as our students do. It’s so much more than a camp or class—it’s an experience. And for many, it’s life changing.


SYP Staff Spring Training

Staff photoFollowing Michigan Tech’s spring break, we all returned with a ton of enthusiasm here in the Center for Pre-College Outreach. Among many other springtime happenings, March brings the first all-staff gathering of a Summer Youth Programs cycle!

This Spring Training was held on March 20th for all staff who accepted a position with SYP. From residence counselors to chaperones, we all gathered together to accomplish a few pre-summer goals. First and foremost, Spring Training provides an opportunity for the head counselors to meet their staff: as peer leaders, it is critical to start building a sense of teamwork as soon as possible! The different staff groups got together to learn names, ask preliminary questions, and get a feel for what their summer will look like.

From there, we spend time outlining summer expectations. We discuss the schedule: what weeks are SYP explorations running? When are the competitive scholarship programs? Which days do staff get off? We also cover expectations of ensuring safety, acting as excellent role models, providing a welcoming and inclusive experience, and the impact of SYP.

Staff are also introduced to the first few items on their training checklist: what days first aid/CPR training is offered, when they will receive their general safety awareness training links, and the time frame for picking up staff books. All in all, Spring Training is a great primer for getting staff excited and prepared for another great summer!

All of the details about the scholarship programs, including required application materials, can be found on our website. If you have any questions, you can always reach us at syp@mtu.edu or by phone at 906-487-2219.


Building A Successful Summer Youth Programs Team

SYP SnowmanWith summer just around the corner (or should I say somewhere around the snowbank!), the time has come for us to hold interviews and begin filling the 65+ roles that it takes to make SYP a great experience. Each year, we hire a large seasonal staff for a wide variety of roles from live-in counselor to bus chaperones. This team, many of whom are current Michigan Tech students, always bring their own life experiences, fresh perspectives, and what we call a #BeAwesome attitude to the program—each summer is unique!

So, how do we build a successful team?  
With over 1,000 participants attending our summer programs, we rely on the staff in many ways and they need to be prepared for anything! The good news is, a lot of our staff already know so much before they even apply. With over 700 SYP alumni now attending Michigan Tech, it’s no surprise when many of them want to come back to the program to work as a counselor. They looked up to past SYP counselors for guidance and saw them as positive role models—now they want to give back. These program alumni, along with our dedicated returning staff, are excited to recreate the positive and inviting environment they experienced with SYP and become leaders for new staff members.

Training, Training, Training!
Once our team is selected, the real fun begins! Before any participants arrive on campus, our full team goes through extensive training both in-person, online, and through independent reading. We utilize Expert Online Training sessions that include educational videos and quizzes to prepare staff about problem solving, bullies, becoming a youth development professional, cultivating patience, listening, safe talk and safe touch, helping students fit in, supervising, and more.

All staff then attend a week-long training the week before programs begin that covers: CPR/First Aid training, van certification, background checks, building security, fire drills, mandated reporter training, Title IX training, case studies, student/staff rules and expectations, inclusion conversations, and much more. Even after this week is over, the training never really ends. The best counselors know that they are always learning and growing as they meet new participants each week. Some even say they don’t want it to end.

“THE BEST JOB EVER. The best hours, the best coworkers, and the best professional staff. Everything about this job is great. We heard about the student who wrote for the story contest and she stated, ‘My only regret is not being able to do it again next summer,’ and that is so applicable to me as an employee. I had so much fun with the students and hearing about all of their projects, that the only sad part would be if I am only able to get this opportunity once. Hopefully I can be back at it next summer!”
– Sarah, 2018 SYP staff 

It doesn’t get much better.
As a professional staff, we are so grateful to the incredible student staff who are the heart and soul of SYP—especially to our returners and head staff, some of whom have dedicated three, four, or even more summers to inspiring young people. We come back year after year, too, because as it turns out, we love this opportunity just as much as our students do. It’s so much more than a camp or class-it’s an experience. And for many, it’s life changing. Watching it all unfold; the friendships, the lessons learned, and the discovery of a career path they are passionate about, is what makes each year of planning all worth it.

Michigan Technological University is an Equal Opportunity Educational Institution/Equal Opportunity Employer, which includes providing equal opportunity for protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.


Stay the Weekend: It’s More Than Just Engineering Camp!

If you’ve looked at our course catalog and wondered how to choose a program, we have good news for you: you don’t have to pick just one! If you wish to stay for more than one program in a row, we can save you the trip home and back, simply sign up to stay the weekend. Making the most of SYP involves both the classroom activities and getting to see more of the beautiful place Michigan Technological University calls home.  

Students who stay at SYP over the weekend (“stayovers”) get a unique chance to explore the wider Keweenaw and Upper Peninsula. Our Weekend Counselors chaperone excursions to places like: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore; Lake of the Clouds in Porcupine Mountains State Park; Adventure Mine; and the northern terminus of US-41, the town of Copper Harbor.

When not on these types of UP adventures, stayover students have a chance to relax and unwind in Houghton by going bowling, hanging out on campus, seeing a movie, visiting a local event or museum, or visiting downtown for dinner.

If you do choose to stay with us over the weekend, a stayover fee of $125 per weekend will cover room and board, supervision, meals (both in the dining hall and during away trips), and any applicable excursion expenses.

If you’re like us and are already excited for SYP 2019, visit the online course listing or  request a mailed catalog. If you have any questions, you can always find us at syp@mtu.edu or by phone at 906-487-2219.


Welcome to the New Website

Notice anything different?

We have been hard at work launching a new website for Summer Youth Programs! All of the information you are looking for (and more!) is still here—it just might be in a different tab. We have done our best to address some of the most common questions, concerns, and inquiries. Below are some insights into what has changed:

  • New live-chat feature for quick questions during times when staff are available to log in.
  • Clearer directions on the application process, both for general explorations and Competitive Scholarship Programs (How to Apply).
  • Increased information on traveling to SYP (Travel Information) – with more coming soon.
  • Rules and expectations laid out ahead of time, pulled directly from the participant handbook and community standards (Participant Expectations).
  • And more!

The applications themselves are not quite ready yet, but we expect to launch in mid-December. If you’re like us and are already excited for SYP 2019, you can go ahead and request a catalog. That way, you will be among the first to receive the 2019 listings when they print. If you have any questions, you can always find us at syp@mtu.edu or by phone at 906-487-2219.


SYP 2019 Hiring Has Begun!

How many people does it take to run a summer program? For us, the answer is: hundreds! Between the instructors, teaching assistants, campus partners, and our summer staff, there are so many people involved in making Summer Youth Programs a success each year.

The first phase of our hiring process just started yesterday. We had an information session for Michigan Tech students who either worked for us in the past or attended SYP when they were younger. Returning staff bring so much knowledge to the crew: they have faced challenges, seen the highlights, and lived the mission. People who attended the camps also have a unique perspective – often, they let us know that they remember the impact their counselors had on them. Now, it’s their turn.

Michigan Tech students who are interested in working for us should visit the hiring page of our website for more information. Another general information session for people new to the wonderful world of SYP will be coming up in January as well.

If you’re like us and are already excited for SYP 2019, you can go ahead and request a catalog. That way, you will be among the first to receive the 2019 listings when they print. If you have any questions, you can always find us at syp@mtu.edu or by phone at 906-487-2219.


How It’s Made: Catalogs

The first draft of the SYP catalog will be ready soon, and we here in the office could not be more excited! We sent all of the updates away to our friends at University Marketing and Communications, and they have been doing a great job putting the print catalog together for you all to enjoy.

What’s next for us? A lot of proofreading! We go to great lengths to make sure that every date, description, and picture is just how it needs to be. We are also still in the process of confirming the last few classes—we hope you are ready for a couple of exciting new offerings in 2019.

Once the final proofs are done, the file will be sent to the printer. How many would you guess that we order? If you guessed a few thousand… try again! We get around 20,000 catalogs each year to send all over the country. They are distributed to high schools, students at events, the Regional Admissions Managers, and many of you via direct mail.

We hope to have everything in the mail starting in early December, so keep an eye out!

If you’re like us and are already excited for SYP 2019, you can go ahead and request a catalog. That way, you will be among the first to receive the 2019 listings when they print. If you have any questions, you can always find us at syp@mtu.edu or by phone at 906-487-2219.


Department Partners

Each summer, we offer between 40 and 50 explorations for students to choose from, along with all of the competitive scholarship programs. How does that happen? Just ask one of our many department partners!

There is no way that the Summer Youth Programs staff could be subject matter experts in everything that we offer. A chemist who knows everything about circuits? And who is also semi-professional photographer with experience designing bridges? This is why we rely on the expertise of our friends across campus to make SYP explorations possible.

Within each partner department is a person or people who are champions for SYP. They coordinate the curriculum, order supplies, find instructors, and supervise labs. They put in many hours to make sure the activities are relevant and fun – because they are passionate about sharing their field with students.

Summer Youth Programs is so grateful for all of the faculty, staff, chairs, deans, and coordinators across campus who work with us, year after year, to make these programs special. When you see them next summer, be sure to say hello!

If you’re like us and are already excited for SYP 2019, you can go ahead and request a catalog. That way, you will be among the first to receive the 2019 listings when they print. If you have any questions, you can always find us at syp@mtu.edu or by phone at 906-487-2219.


Getting Ready for Launch

How early is too early to start planning for a summer program? At SYP, we take the approach that it’s never too soon! Would you believe we’re trying to have all of our preliminary information together by October 12th?

We are already well underway planning for summer of 2019. Why do we have to start planning so early? With each exploration evaluated individually, we take extra care to make adjustments as needed. For starters, we meet with all of the departments, faculty, and staff who host the explorations. We talk with them about what went well this year, their plans for the following summer, and any changes they want to make to the activities. This is also the time when we set the course capacities, schedule the weeks to run each class, and review the descriptions of each exploration.

Soon, we will send all of the course updates to our colleagues around campus: the Registrar’s office, who set up the classes so you can enroll in them; University Marketing and Communications, who design and coordinate printing of the catalogs; and all of the departments to confirm dates. It takes an army to launch SYP every year, and all of it takes place behind the scenes.

Once everything is produced, checked, and double-checked, it’s off to the printer with the catalogs and posted to the web with our online application! We aim to launch in early December each year, which comes up quickly.

If you’re like us and are already excited for next summer, you can go ahead and request a catalog. That way, you will be among the first to receive the 2019 listings when they print. If you have any questions, you can always find us at syp@mtu.edu or by phone at 906-487-2219.