It may seem as if the technology craze is at the forefront of children’s minds, but they still crave the magic and wonder of making something with their hands, learning how something works, and the adventure of the outdoors. They need to be in an environment where this is encouraged and easily accessible. With programs like Horizons for Youth, local children can interact with others their age, learn fun things and also be curious, active and engaged.

Horizons for Youth is an enrichment program offered through Northampton Community College (NCC). The program started about 25 years ago on the Bethlehem campus and 15 years ago in Monroe County.

“The summer program gives kids a unique opportunity to learn and have fun while doing it,” explained Debra Raneri, who is the Director of Community Education at the newest Monroe County location, which is off Route 715. The campus is situated on 80 acres and encompasses three main buildings. This is the fifth year Horizons has operated on the new property.

Horizons for Youth summer program runs Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and this appeals to working parents who still want their children to learn and socialize with peers when school is not in session. Courses and workshops are taught by highly qualified instructors, many who are NCC faculty as well as teachers in the local school districts. From grades K-9, students enjoy a hands-on, well-rounded learning experience all summer long, whether they’re enrolled for the full day or attending a class or two.

Ms. Raneri said the summer program is chock full of interesting classes and about 200 children attend per week. Breakfast and a hot lunch are served, and are included in the cost of the program. Each course is age appropriate and a few of the popular classes are cooking, fencing, and science. Each week, a different theme is chosen and teachers love the flexibility of the program. The students look forward to the unique activities such as building rocket ships, constructing volcanoes, making solar s’mores, and concocting slime.

The s’mores project consisted of an empty cereal box and tin foil. The students watch in awe and anticipation for the gooey chocolate and marshmallow treat as the sun hits the aluminum foil, heating the s’mores. The slime is a simple recipe of Elmer’s glue, borax and food coloring. The texture appeals to the children and they get a kick out of crafting it. The best part is they are allowed to take it home in plastic bags.

Building the rockets is an adventure as students take a 2 liter soda bottle with water and propel it into the air with a bicycle pump. Another fun project is the elephant toothpaste, where the students mix hydrogen peroxide and yeast and watch as it bubbles like a volcano. It creates a foam and the chemical reaction is discussed during the demonstration.

The cooking classes are especially popular with the younger children, who learn to make tasty desserts such as cupcakes and cake pops. They’re also taught important lessons in cleaning up, measurements and other cooking related tools.
According to Ms. Raneri, the parents are happy because their kids either go home and won’t stop enthusing about the project of the day or are so tired, they fall asleep instant. “That’s proof of a successful program. I’m so proud of our teachers and counselors and the great ideas they come up with.”

During the school year, Horizons classes are offered only on Saturdays. In addition, instructors run a year round SAT prep course for teenagers. •

by: Allison Mowatt


For more information,
Bethlehem Locations: (610) 861-4120
Monroe Campus: (570) 369-1881