Jennifer Ochstein

Anticipation. Excitement. Curiosity. This is what I see in campers’ eyes on the first day of Bethel College’s Academic Summer Camps. As campers check in, their eagerness and enthusiasm for the week ahead is electric. You can’t help but be exhilarated by their energy. While some campers are shy and others outgoing, they all have something in common: They can’t wait to learn, meet others with similar interests, and work with a bonafide college professor. In short, they can’t wait to jump in! And isn’t this what summer is for? Fun? New challenges? A time during which we can explore our interests? Yes!

When the final school bell rings announcing not only the end of another school year, but the beginning of something wonderful, I’m reminded of the thrill that summer holds for kids. And, as the new director of Bethel’s Academic Summer Camps this year, I love the possibilities of summer. More time with family, friends, warm summer sunshine, hobbies, vacations, and, of course, camp marks summer as one of my favorite seasons.

This year’s camps are going to be a blast, and I’ll let you in on a little secret. I wish I could participate in this year’s summer camps at Bethel! I think I’ll be living vicariously through our campers as they work with our dedicated professors. Our professors’ love for their subjects  and the enthusiasm they bring to the learning process spills over onto campers so that the Academic Camps are often listed as one of our campers’ favorite summer memories.

Our newest camp, Science Smackdown!, taught by Assistant Professor Beth Kroa and Associate Professor Bryan Issac, will get campers’ brains working as they compete in challenging chemistry, physics, and engineering tasks.

Camper favorite, Associate Professor Theo Williams will put a new twist on this year’s Sports Communication Camp, as campers learn how to report and film in the sports arena.

Assistant Professor of Biology and Ecology Kevin Drury, Ph.D., explores butterflies with campers as part of last year's camp.

The Water Bugs! Camp will see campers get their hands dirty as they perform real-world experiments and learn sampling techniques as they explore aquatic insects with Assistant Professor Kevin Drury.

This year’s art camp will feature another camper favorite, Assistant Professor Suzanne Mauro, who will be teaching campers how to use a potter’s wheel during the very popular Ceramics Camp.

For students whose artistic proclivities are more musical, Associate Professor Vicky Warkentien’s Instrumental Camp has been recommended in local schools to help students sharpen their skills. And The Youth Gospel Choir teaches students to “make a joyful noise” through diverse musical styles.

Bethel Theater Instructor Deb Swerman’s enthusiasm for the stage is infectious, and this year, Deb has graciously agreed to teach three summer Theater Camps so more students than ever can participate.

Last, but not least in the hearts of campers, Operation! Camp will return with surgeon and Assistant Professor Dr. Steve Galat, who will take students on a journey through the human body while using fresh pig organs to give students hands-on experience. See what’s new with Operation!

Register online and see a full description, dates and cost of each camp at! See you there!

Happy camping,

Jennifer Ochstein, Camp Director