Experiential learning programs serve all ages

By Pam Bryant

More than 26,000 young campers, professionals, adults with special needs, active seniors, academically talented students and at-risk youth participated in experiential learning activities through Clemson’s Youth Learning Institute (YLI) last year. 

Executive Director Jorge Calzadilla says, “YLI is committed to exploring new ways to diversify program offerings that embody the organization’s core philosophy of creating high performance, experiential learning opportunities.”

Some of the institute’s recent initiatives include:

C-CATS – a college preparation program for top 9th and 10th graders from South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Students participate in high-powered academic sessions and adventures like a 400-foot zip line at YLI’s headquarters in Pickens. They take guided tours of the University and meet with admissions representatives to learn how to prepare for selective institutions like Clemson.

New Horizons – a partnership with the S.C. Department of Social Services that provides a group home for teenage mothers in foster care and their babies at Clemson’s R.M. Cooper Leadership Center in Summerton. The teen mothers continue their education and learn parenting and life skills in a safe and nurturing environment. New Horizons has a 100% success rate of young mothers completing the program to live independently and attend institutions of higher education.

REACH – a series of themed, weekend camps for adults with disabilities and special needs to enjoy camp-based activities that promote fun and learning in Pickens. During the summer, week-long REACH camping sessions are held in Pickens and Summerton.

Youth Development Center – a partnership with the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice that provides a 45-bed alternative placement facility for non-violent juvenile offenders at Camp Long in Aiken.

Elderhostel – a national program for active seniors hosted by YLI. Last summer, seniors and their grandchildren enjoyed a week-long, intergenerational program of adventure and nature activities at Camp Bob Cooper in Summerton.

For more information: http://www.clemson.edu/yli/ or 864-878-1103.