Summer programs bring academics, athletes, cheerleaders to campus

Niigata English Language Program students from Japan check in to College 8 during last year's summer conference season.

Not long after UCSC students head off for their summer adventures, a new batch of residents begins arriving on campus.

Summer is conference season, and from June 22 to August 30, the campus will roll out the welcome mat for approximately 10,000 visitors. The guests will attend 70 different conferences or camps, learning about everything from developmental biology to cheerleading.

The majority of groups focus on academic pursuits, but sports and music camps also make up a large portion of programs, said Martha Keeler, Colleges and University Housing Services assistant director for conference services.

Adult program participants may share knowledge in a particular field, such as biology or financial planning. Other participants may study accelerated math and science, and still others could be training in a sport.

"All programs enjoy the beauty of our campus and the surrounding area," said Keeler. "Most take trips to the Santa Cruz area, the Boardwalk, the beach, the downtown area, and outlying counties."

Some of the groups have been making UCSC their summer home for more than two decades, including the Dickens Project, USA cheerleaders, Nike Tennis Camps, and Math Science Upward Bound.

But 10 groups will be on campus for the first time, said Keeler.

Those programs include Cognitive Aging Research, cosponsored by UC Davis; Girls Scouts of Santa Clara County; Kokusai Butoku-Kai, an international martial arts program; Lifetouch Publishing, which provides training in yearbook publishing; and Ocean Explorers, a marine studies camp from Long Marine Lab and the Seymour Center for students 12-14.

USA cheer is the largest program. It has nine camps, each with 200-500 participants.

The activity is good news for UCSC's bottom line, bringing in almost $4 million in gross revenue to campus.

Housed in residence halls and apartments, conference participants will also use classrooms,
 lounges, and outdoor field spaces throughout the campus.

The majority of conferences are youth programs, ages 9 through high school, though visitors come in all ages and from around the world, said Keeler.

Not only are summer conferences fun and enlightening for participants, but they're also good for UCSC, she said.

Among the benefits, she said, conferences:

  • Expose the UCSC campus to a broader community;

  • Allow faculty to highlight the campus with their colleagues from around the world;

  • Attract a large population of pre-college-age young people who may later decide to make UCSC their college choice;

  • Bring visitors and revenue to the greater Santa Cruz area, enhancing the relationship between UCSC and the city and county.

More information on UCSC conferences is available online.