The hospitality industry in the Poconos is struggling to find employees. So they've come up with a new way to introduce these jobs to the younger generation. 12 different school districts from our region got to participate in a hospitality bootcamp.

Students are trying their hand at event planning. They were asked incorporate the five senses and come up with a way to kick off the first day of school.

Reading Muhlenberg Career & Technology Center Student Sage Desimone says, "Our event planning was a food fair. What we’re thinking is a cultural food fair throughout all of the nations."

It’s all part of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Hospitality Career Bootcamp. Over 90 students from 12 different school districts were invited to participate at Camelback Lodge in Tannersville.

Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association President/CEO Joe Massaro says, "In Pennsylvania, this industry has over 800 thousand employees in hospitality. We’re such a big part of the economy, we want to make sure students understand all the different job opportunities there are in hospitality."

And we’re told it couldn’t be more fitting to hold it in the Poconos where along with tourism, it’s the number one industry.

Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau Executive Vice President Brian Bossuyt says,  "We’re all trying to get to the same goal of really just showing that hospitality is a very viable industry. You can really grow in the industry. It’s got great, good pay stable jobs and there’s so much of it available in the Poconos."

The day started out with culinary and pastry classes. Professional chefs taught the kids how to make different dishes. No surprise, the hands on experience was the cherry on top or in this case strawberry.

"I really like the cooking."

"Definitely the cooking, eating."

Students also got to sit down and talk with professionals currently in the business right now, one is the owner of The Frogtown Chophouse, for a speed networking session.

"Do you remember the Ruby Tuesday’s of Montage? That was my training store under  Ed Terrick, I mean that’s how important some of the people along the way have been and then from there I bought my own restaurant and the rest is history."

Massaro says, "From food and beverage to lodging, marketing, attractions, HR, accounting, all the different hospitality careers that are available, they’ll get to hear about, ask questions and make decisions about if that’s something they’d like to pursue."

The hope is that students leave inspired to look into a future with the hospitality industry or a related field.