Penn State Wilkes-Barre has been part of Angelena Allen’s life since she first stepped foot on campus as an elementary school student for summer camp. After attending the camps as a child, she came back to Penn State Wilkes‑Barre as a college student to take classes and to teach in the same summer camp program she once attended.
By: Goldie Van Horn
Former summer camper returns to Penn State Wilkes-Barre as a student and camp instructor
Penn State Wilkes‑Barre has been part of Angelena Allen’s life since she first stepped foot on campus as an elementary school student for summer camp. After attending the camps as a child, she came back to Penn State Wilkes‑Barre as a college student to take classes and to teach in the same summer camp program she once attended. She loves working with children and hopes to become a pediatrician.
Allen recalled her first experiences on campus, saying, “I did the Lionettes dance camp and arts and crafts camp for three summers. I loved it and loved Penn State Wilkes‑Barre.”
After graduating from Dallas High School, she opted to return to Penn State Wilkes‑Barre, where she spent her first two years of college as part of the 2+2 Plan.
Interested in studying medicine, she wanted to stay close to home and decided to complete her biology degree at Penn State Scranton, where she is in the honors program. She still takes courses at the Wilkes‑Barre campus when she is able to.
“I try to take classes there as much as possible because I love all the professors there and I was able to make personal connections with them,” Allen explained. “I really felt I had a personal connection with every single teacher I had. I also liked the small size of the campus, which made it a lot easier to make friends and to make connections overall.”
It was her love for Penn State Wilkes‑Barre that inspired her to return as a camp employee.
“After my sophomore year of college, I knew how much I was going to miss the Wilkes‑Barre campus,” she said. “I saw a ‘help wanted’ ad for camp aides and put my application in.”
Her application was accepted and she spent that summer working as a camp aide for the Lionettes and Art Terrific camps. The following summer, Allen served as a camp aide for volleyball and theater camps. She also works as a waitress at the Checkerboard Inn, where she has seen several of the students from the camps.
“My first summer as a camp aide, the kids were giving me some of their art projects at the end. That’s when I knew I wanted to come back the next summer,” she said. “Then when I came back this past summer, some of the kids remembered me and that was the best feeling. It’s always good to see and reconnect with them.”
This year, Allen’s first as a camp instructor, she will teach arts and crafts camps for children entering first through third grades.
“At Penn State Wilkes‑Barre, we give every child who attends our summer youth camps their first Penn State experience,” said Director of Continuing Education Jane Ashton. “Angelena came full circle back to our campus. We are so excited to have her as a camp instructor, and I know the children are going to love her arts and crafts camps.”
Allen’s time as a camper and an aide showed her the many benefits of summer camp for students. She encouraged students to attend the camps at Penn State Wilkes‑Barre and emphasized how much fun the campers have.
“We have a really good time at all the camps,” Allen said. “And students can pick whatever they are interested in. We have a wide variety of camps — sports-based, science-based and creativity-based. There’s truly something for everyone.”
She also wants parents to know about the benefits of sending their child to one of the campus’ summer camps.
“There is a lot to learn from being at a Penn State Wilkes‑Barre camp and kids will get to meet a lot of different people,” she said. “Our instructors do a great job in making sure everyone feels included and is participating and having a good time. This is a great way to know their kids are going to have a good time, have good opportunities, and be exposed to new people.” Learn more about this year’s summer camps.
As for herself, working with the students has solidified Allen’s desire to spend her career working with children as she pursues her goal of being a pediatrician.
“I really, really love kids and working with them,” said Allen, who has already done job shadowing with a local pediatrician.