Summer conferences at UCSC: science, enrichment, music, and changing lives

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Youth converge every year on the UCSC campus. International outreach efforts draw students from across the globe. 
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The Charles Dickens Universe always attracts a large and enthusiastic group of conferees. 
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The quality of conference program offerings, UCSC's prestigious reputation, and the beautiful campus, all do their part to attract conferences and participants every year. 

This year’s set of UCSC Conferences caters to every imaginable taste.

Conference attendants will always find a special niche for themselves,  whether they want to swim into the world of water polo at a Nike Sports Camp, make their guitars talk at the Soundwall Music Camp, play and study at the Mandolin Symposium with David Grisman and Mike Marshall, or ponder the Mystery of Edwin Drood at the always popular Dickens Universe conference, which will feature an appearance by Gerald Dickens, great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens. 

While the roughly 50 conference offerings appeal to a wide age range, expect to see a large number of youthful faces this season. Roughly 7,000 of the estimated 9,000 conference participants are youth, some of them participating in outreach programs designed to increase their ability to get into top colleges and universities.

Others are the highest performers in their field of study and hope to challenge themselves in a rigorous college classroom environment.

Summer school could be a life changing experience for these students. For many, it will be their first in-depth, sustained exposure to the campus and its offerings.

“Youth who come here for summer programs may end up attending UCSC because of this experience, even if it's a non-traditional academic experience such as a sport camp,” said Martha Keeler, UCSC’s assistant director of conference services.

Here are just a few offerings for high-achieving youth:

Imagine spending your summer studying star and planet formation and cosmic evolution. The students at the University of California High-Performance Astrocomputing Center’s International Summer School will immerse themselves in large-scale simulations and planet-formation problems.  This program is sponsored by UCSC.

High-achieving students interested in medical, pharmacy, nursing, biomedical research, or drug development careers, can learn molecular and cellular biology at the Rosetta Institute of Biomedical Research Cancer Workshop, which offers engaging lectures and challenging laboratory classes  More broadly, the workshop strengthens academic skills and helps to ease the transition from high school to college.

Mathematically gifted students from all around the world will take part in Awesome Math, a three-week intensive summer camp. The camp is perfect for students who are hoping to become competitive at the math Olympiad level, and others who are just looking to expand their skills.

The average gross revenue of over $4 million, generated within a 10-week period, goes to UCSC’s housing system and helps offset what students pay during the academic year for housing and dining. Visiting students have the full range of campus living. They stay in campus housing and eat in college dining halls.

UCSC summer conferences have a longstanding reputation for eclecticism and professionalism. It’s a time to see new groups on campus, and welcome back groups that have a longstanding history at UCSC. For instance, the oldest conference group, USA Cheerleaders, has been coming back for more than 40 years.

Keeler attributed the conference program’s success to the setting as well as the programs’ quality. “We are so lucky to have this beautiful environment,” she said. “The reputation of UCSC, and the natural setting, keep our programs very strong. We draw a national and international  participant base.  I want to thank the UCSC community for helping us welcome these summer visitors. “