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July 12, 2013
By Abbie Walker
Girls in Engineering students examine a slide which is used for testing biological applications.
Students participating in the Girls in Engineering Camp tour the chemical engineering lab.
To believe that the University of Nevada, Reno slows down during the summer months is far from the truth. With more than 35 different summer camps to choose from and nearly 5,000 students under the age of 18 participating in camps on University facilities throughout northern Nevada, the campus is alive with students partaking in adventurous and fun academic learning.
A point of pride for the University is the summer program offered through the College of Education called Dean's Future Scholars, which works with underrepresented students identified for the program starting in middle school. This academic outreach program seeks to increase the number of underrepresented students graduating high school, better their access to higher education and assist them in entering the field of education. The day-camp has 213 students actively participating in activities throughout the summer months on various days.
"The University of Nevada campus provides the ideal backdrop for youth summer camps," said Mariluz Garcia, director of Dean's Future Scholars. "Not only is it a beautiful place to be, but this setting expands students horizons by allowing them to step into the shoes of college students every single day. They get to experience what it's like to learn in a college classroom and enjoy access to the superb technology on campus."
Throughout the course of three months - June, July and August - the University offers a variety of experiences for the thousands of students who are in local elementary, middle and high schools.
One of the most successful camps, in both registrants and the number of educational opportunities offered, is Kids University through Extended Studies. Last year, the program had nearly 1,900 2nd- through 8th-grade students for weeklong sessions, energizing minds and bodies all summer long. With more than 60 topics offered, including robotics, space science, music composition, engineering, history, math, game design, sports and more, it is no surprise that the camp is so successful.
"My daughter, a 9-year-old, was in website design which may have been a bit over her head, considering she was only nine," a camp mother said. "However, one of the junior counselors hung out near her and gave her the extra assistance she needed. While my daughter has enjoyed the other more girly classes she's taken, I was thrilled she chose and enjoyed more technical themes."
As Kids University and Deans' Future Scholars camps continue through the summer, the University also offers specialty week-long camps emphasizing engineering, math, science and more.
The College of Engineering organizes multiple camps with each camp focusing on a different aspect of engineering such as civil engineering, transportation and computer science. The college also hosts additional camps including Intro to Engineering, Girls in Engineering and the MESA program (mathematics, engineering, science achievement), which shows first-generation college students how fun engineering can be. The camps bring more than 100 students to campus ranging from ages 12-17.
"The engineering summer camps are a great way for young students to be exposed to the University, be taught by college professors and to learn what engineering is all about," Elyse Bozsik, College of Engineering K-12 outreach coordinator, said. "Many students do not know what engineering is before coming to one of our camps. It is our hope to expose them to a number of engineering fields while they're on campus and to inspire them to go on and choose engineering or science and technology as a future major and career."
Another fun-filled science camp is the Summer of Discovery provided by the University's School of Medicine. The camp offers 36 Nevada students, who are in grades eight through 10, the chance to peak their interest in science and their ability to be successful in science.
Andrea Gibbins-Gregg, camp director of Summer of Discover, said their goal every year is to get kids more excited about science.
"At the end of the camp week, the students proudly stand up and give a presentation to their parents and everyone involved in the camp, a synopsis of what they learned," Gibbins-Gregg said.
Although there are many camps offered on campus, there are some off-the-grid camps that make going to camp feel like a vacation. Every summer, the University of Nevada Corporative Extension's 4-H Camp at Lake Tahoe hosts multiple programs at their stunning lakeside facility.
"More than 350 youth, teens and adults from across the state participate in the 4-H summer camps offered by Cooperative Extension each year on the beautiful shores of Lake Tahoe," Claudene Wharton, communications specialist for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, said.
Following the 4-H camps, the campground is used for the Lake Tahoe Music Camp organized by the University's Department of Music in the College of Liberal Arts. The professors, who are also professional musicians, encourage students to express their musical talents more fully and allow them to play their instruments as loud as they would like.
Nichole Heglund, Lake Tahoe Music Camp assistant director, said 200 students ranging from grades eight through 12 are enrolled in this year's camp. They participate in a week filled with musical activities, rehearsals, team-building and recreation.
"For those students looking to continue music as a major or minor at the university level, our camp provides leadership skills and is staffed with outstanding musicians and music majors who teach music lessons and classes and provide mentorship throughout the week," Heglund said.
Beyond the academic side of camps, the University's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics hosts 29 Wolf Pack Sport Camps for youth starting as young as six years old. Camps include baseball, basketball, volleyball, football, softball, soccer, swimming and more. The Wolf Pack Sport Camps bring approximately 2,000 students onto the University athletic facilities.
Other specialty camps welcome at least 200 more students onto campus including: the Smallwood Multimedia Boot Camp where high school students receive rigorous instruction and hands-on experience in a wide-range of media and research; the Girls Math and Technology Camp which provides support and encouragement to girls from varied backgrounds to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence in mathematics, as well as the use of technology for mathematics learning; Nevada Boys State, a seven-day, hands-on leadership experience that draws together high school juniors to form a mock state that includes cities, elections, courts and government branches; the NCLab Summer Camp which welcomes 50 kindergarten through 12th grade students to write and present 3D designs and/or computer programs; and the Upward Bound Summer Academy, a campus residential program where high school students are placed in core classes that prepare them for the courses they will take in high school the following year along with electives that may include multimedia production, music, drama, public speaking, fitness, test preparation and recreational sports.
Abbie Walker is a graduate intern and student writer with University Media Relations.