Kids University: Learning Together Even When Apart

Kids University: Learning Together Even When Apart

Child on Zoom with teacher

Campers weren’t the only ones virtually learning at Kids University (Kids U) this past semester! Alongside 113 registered campers, 33 students from the College of Education and Integrative Studies (CEIS) volunteered as camp leaders. They led various K-8 activities and spent hundreds of hours tutoring K-6 students as part of their fieldwork. 

“I was granted the opportunity to provide students from CEIS an avenue to work with our campers,” ASI Interim Youth and Safety Programs Coordinator Marissa Engel said. “They gained their required fieldwork hours in an online classroom versus the traditional in-person classroom.”

Camp leader teaching children
At the end of Fall 2020, 
the camp leaders completed a total of 706.36 fieldwork hours through Kids U. A few students have already expressed interest in continuing to work with the program in the future. 

“I’m so thankful for Kids U offering this opportunity to LS 1020 students,” Liberal Studies Department Chair Dr. Christina Chavez-Reyes said. “Their reflections on the experience spoke of their appreciation of the training, the team-based lesson planning, and community created by the organization.”

Woman helping child with experiment
Children running in gym
Prior to transitioning to a virtual environment, 
ASI Campus Recreation (Campus Rec) hosted Kids U at the Bronco Recreation and Intramural Complex (BRIC) with eight weeks of in-person sessions that included experiential learning opportunities for CPP students and K-6 campers each summer. Camp leaders hosted activities focused on the development of interpersonal skills. Some of these activities included: swimming, rock climbing, recreation, arts and crafts, STEM, and performing arts.

Children following camp leader
With the switch to virtual instruction, many programs and facilities at 
Cal Poly Pomona were forced to suspend in-person hours and activities. However, despite the inability to meet in person, Campus Rec quickly transformed Kids U—a highly anticipated summer program—into a successful virtual program in Summer and Fall 2020 for children ages five to 15. The program was designed to help kids develop their interpersonal skills while challenging themselves to learn and grow with each activity whether they are in the classroom or not. 

Kids U not only transformed the at-home learning environment for its campers, but it offered CPP student parents, and staff and faculty parents the support needed to help with their kids’ social and creative needs. Parents provided a multitude of feedback through weekly surveys and drop-in hours with Engel which allowed the program to meet the needs of campers in the most effective manner.

Blue "Kids U" on yellow background
“It is very difficult working full time and taking care of kids at home. You can’t always supervise 
them or do creative learning activities,” Executive Director for Strategic Communications Esther Chou Tanaka said. “Last year, we tried out a few virtual programs for kids, and this is hands-down our favorite.”

Seeing that parents needed additional services and support; Kids U expanded their offerings to include private and group tutoring sessions and fun interpersonal and leadership programs. Enrolled campers engaged via Zoom in individual and group activities where they learned about science, technology, engineering, the arts, math (STEAM); team building; exercise; and interpersonal skills.

Man talking about STEM
“I’m so grateful that Cal Poly Pomona has a fantastic virtual program for kids, which provides a supportive and creative community,” 
Tanaka said. “They play games, do craft projects and have discussions about their interests and feelings. It’s led by kind, caring, and attentive Cal Poly Pomona students. Marissa or “Checks,” the main coordinator, is fantastic. She checks in with the family if their child hasn’t logged in on time, which happens quite a bit when parents are juggling a full schedule of meetings.”

Marissa Engel smiling with headset on
“It was a very rewarding process as a CPP alum to watch current CPP students implement what they are learning in their classes to our 
program,” Engel said. “Our campers and camp leaders all grew tremendously as they got out of their comfort zones and into their stretch zones!”

Not only did Engel assist in successfully coordinating Kids U, but she also shared her expertise on navigating virtual summer camps as a co-host for the NIRSA Panel for Youth Programs Roundtable.

Two woman presenting at NIRSA online
Heading into Spring 2021, Kids U aims to increase K-6 camper participation by 25 percent, continue providing quality activities and experiences, 
supply CPP students with more than 800 fieldwork hours, and solidify a long-term partnership between the university and ASI program. 

Services will be available at no cost for CPP student parents. Kids University is open to all parents, CPP students or not, and will continue to provide services throughout Spring 2021. To learn more about the program and pricing, visit here.

Child climbing a rock wall
While in
 or out of remote work and learning environments, ASI is committed to supporting the needs of CPP student parents, faculty and staff parents, and their children, especially during these challenging times.

For more information on Kids University, visit our webpage or contact Marissa Engel at

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