From mandolins to cheerleading squads: UC Santa Cruz summer conferences cater to all interests

The 4-H State Leadership Conference has been going on for a century, but this is the first year it has joined the UC Santa Cruz summer conference line-up.
The USA Spirit Squad Training Camp has been a fixture at UC Santa Cruz during conference season for more than 40 years.

More than 50 conferences will expand the minds and hone the skills of roughly 10,000 people this summer.

Visitors who wish to improve their expertise in lacrosse, tennis, volleyball, water polo and yoga, or would like to spend their summer hours close-reading Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens, in the company of other Dickens lovers, or lending their voices to an internationally touring choir, or playing a mandolin in very talented company, will get their chance in the coming months. 

Visiting students have the full range of campus living. They stay in campus housing and eat in college dining halls.

A full list of offerings shows that conferences are geared to a wide array of talents, passions, hobbies and interests.

If you study the list, you will notice a strong emphasis this year on college preparatory courses.

The Leadership Public Schools program will send high school students from Heyward, San Jose, and Oakland, for an immersive experience designed to familiarize them with the rigors of college as well as the layout and atmosphere of a college campus. This summer program is an extension of the LPS tuition-free charter schools dedicated to preparing students for college success and leadership.

Those who wish to rock may do so at the Soundwall summer rock camp, a time to hone instrumental technique,  learn music theory, music history, rehearsal techniques, ensemble skills, and performance practice. The homework might include close-listening to the likes of Led Zeppelin and the Beatles.

The conference line-up includes the United Spirit Association cheerleading and dance camp, which has been coming back to UC Santa Cruz for more than 40 years.

For the first time, UC Santa Cruz will host the 4-H State Leadership Conference, bringing together high school students across the state to build leadership skills, network, and learn new skills, and the 2014 Learning with Nature Training Institute,  a gathering of leading educators from around the world coming together to share and exchange ideas about bringing nature into children’s lives. The conference is of special interest to environmental educators, health officials, landscape designers, outdoor play consultants, policy makers, researchers, and students.

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.

Zaunna Wells, operations manager for UC Santa Cruz’s Conference Services, said UC Santa Cruz’s beautiful setting makes it a steady draw for youth and sports camps, which comprise “the bulk of our business” during the conference season, while the campus’s strong academic reputation allows it to draw conferences including the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, which offers high level courses for exceptionally bright students in two intensive three-week sessions.