PAA Summers Mean Learning, Working

August 31, 2016 | Liesl Vistaunet

Every summer at Portland Adventist Academy (PAA), sports camps, international student immersion courses and the Smart Start program bring more than 160 young people to PAA’s campus while creating work opportunities for current PAA students.

Basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball camps helped PAA build relationships with 148 elementary students. These potential future PAA students learned basic sports skills while making new friends each other.

“One of my favorite things at soccer camp was learning how to dribble,” says 6-year-old Johannes Long, “and getting Gatorade.”

His big sister, Magdalena Long, adds, “One of my favorite things was playing against the other kids and doing warm ups. I also learned to shoot with the inside of my foot. I’m definitely going to do soccer camp again next year.”

For international students, the three-week immersion program as well as two weeks of Smart Start brought 16 teens from Korea, China, Taiwan and Japan to PAA. They improved their English, learned about American culture, visited historical and significant sites in the area, and made friends with their American student mentors. Smart Start, held at the beginning of each school year, offers brand-new PAA international students a time period to adjust to American culture with the help of PAA student mentors.

“For some of these students, it may be their first time away from home,” says Maria Bibb, PAA international student program director. “It can be very overwhelming. Having an American student mentor helps them adjust.”

“These programs also give our PAA students evangelism opportunities,” explains Bibb. “They sing songs, we pray, we build friendships and make memories together. Our students get to be a missionary right here at school.”

Sports camps, immersion courses and Smart Start serve another purpose. Each program offers jobs to PAA students who are earning money for their tuition. “Summer camps add value to our student work program,” says Jason Bibb, PAA vice principal of finance. “Our work program teaches students about work ethic, it helps them pay their tuition, and it gives them a sense of pride as they take ownership of their own education.” This summer found 24 PAA students working on campus to earn money toward tuition. 

Rounding out the busy summer, 12 PAA students took driver’s education this summer and 22 took world history.