Redwood conservation and rock and roll: Conferences keep campus busy in summer

More than 10,000 visitors and 70 residential conference groups will surround themselves with redwoods and learning this summer at the UCSC campus.  (Photograph by Jim McKenzie)

Some college campuses are gloomy and deserted when the students clear out and leave for summer.

Not UC Santa Cruz, where summertime is conference season, and thousands of newcomers are out crossing bridges, exploring the woods, and taking classes.  UCSC expects 70 residential conference groups, and 10,000 visitors, to flock here from June 19 to August 27.

This is a chance for visitors to immerse themselves in such fields of interest as mathematics, lacrosse, mandolin playing, ocean studies, cross country and food science. Faculty, academic departments, and professional associations will sponsor the academic programs, youth sports camps, and adult conferences.

School of rock

Soundwall Music, established in 1993, is among the many returning attractions. This summer music camp is a real-life School of Rock that shows budding guitarists, bassists, vocalists and drummers from age 12 to 17 how to play in a band, learn rock music stylings, and jam together. According to the promotional materials, “students play all styles … from Led Zeppelin to the Beatles to Tool.”

Nutrition and science

WellBalance, a nutrition and weight management program, is one of the newer programs for pre-college youth. The UCSC Science Internship Program (SIP) is launching its first residential program this summer; in previous years, SIP ran a day program for students on campus. SIP draws an elite group of high achieving high-school science students. These students will study everything from the metallicity of red giant stars in Andromeda’s dwarf spheroidal satellites to a computer-simulated galaxy formation.

Cheer camps

Another new face is Varsity Spirit, which brings two cheer camps to UCSC:  Universal Cheer and Universal Dance Camp, both taking place on the west side of campus.

Professional conferences

New adult/professional conferences this summer are:  Redwood Symposium, which is co-sponsored by UCSC, UC Berkeley and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and concerns the management and conservation of coast redwoods; Food Pro Users, an annual user group conference sponsored by UCSC and designed for food-service staff members who use the Automated Food Management Systems software program; and the Hertz Foundation, a non-profit organization that awards fellowships to Ph.D. students.

Coordinated by UCSC’s Conference Services, these conferences gross over $4 million in 10 weeks of the summer quarter.  The net revenue helps reduce housing costs to students during the academic year.  Additionally, conference programs help UCSC reach out to pre-college youth and showcase the campus to a national and international audience.

Agroecology shortcourse

Between 35 and 40 people from around the world will be on campus in July for the 12th Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse at the Sustainable Living Center. The theme is the transformation of food systems to the agroecology model from field to table, using California food systems as a working case study of challenges and successes.

To see the full list of summer groups, visit the Conference Services website at