UC Santa Cruz is a summer conference hotspot

This season, the campus will welcome 109 groups comprising a total of 10,000 attendees.

With stunning views like this, along with its strong academic reputation, it's no surprise that UC Santa Cruz is a hotspot for summer conferences.
Be on the lookout for lots of youthful faces on campus during this summer conference season, including these Upward Bound participants.

UC Santa Cruz becomes a hotspot for conferences in the summertime. Whether you are interested in studying planets, dowsing the days away, or learning a brand-new cheerleading technique, there’s a conference that will suit your needs.

This season, the campus will welcome 109 groups comprising a total of 10,000 attendees.

Sandi Vargas, who oversees UC Santa Cruz conferences, says the campus’s ideal, forest-like setting is conducive to academic groups here who focus on higher learning, college preparation, and musical endeavors, as well as youth and sports camps. Groups range in size from 30 to 500, and classes are taking place in all kinds of venues, from small classrooms to large lecture halls.

Expect to see a lot of young people out and about; roughly 70 percent of the conferees are youths.

The current list of conferences puts a strong emphasis on college preparatory classes, including Upward Bound, Trio, and Smart Choices,whose mission is to inspire a first-generation crop of new college-bound students from their underserved communities.

This year’s offerings also include a conference on the ecology of food systems, sponsored by UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS). The conference has a strong focus on social justice, and will draw students from across the globe.

You will also find some one-of-a-kind options, including the West Coast Dowsing Conference in early July. The group’s website defines dowsing as “an ancient art practiced throughout the world," and states that a dowser communicates with the universe through the use of mind, body, and unique tools such as pendulums and L-rods. This seasoned group encompasses 20-somethings as well as people well into their 80s and even their 90s, sharing a strong focus on metaphysics as well as mindfulness.

Dowsing is one way of connecting with nature, and so is the painstaking art of science illustration. The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators is putting on a conference this year that runs July 3–9. Check out their website if you want to see some truly stunning art featuring wildlife. Among the lineup of speakers will be the highly respected illustrator and “nature journaling evangelist” John Muir Laws. (Laws, by the way,  is not related to the legendary writer, mountaineer and pioneering environmentalist John Muir; Laws's mother, who worked as a lawyer for the Sierra Club, named Laws after him.)

As usual, the rock 'n’ roll summer camp, Soundwall, will give students as young as 6 a chance to rock out and have a fine time in the process. The Soundwall Music program provides intensive training on guitar, bass, vocals, and keyboard and culminates with an impressive concert performance at the university's Recital Hall.  Those who might wish to enroll can watch some high-energy music videos featuring Soundwall students in action.

Nike Sports Camps once again bring their varied youth sports camps, representing a wide spectrum including football, basketball, swimming, lacrosse, running, rugby, and tennis.  And UC Santa Cruz is also a place for practicing cheerleaders, who will return to campus to spread the team spirit once again.

The conference season is a boon for conference-goers, and also benefits UC Santa Cruz.

 The average gross revenue of over $4.5 million from the conferences, generated within a 10-week period, goes to UC Santa Cruz’s housing system and helps offset student housing costs during the academic year. It also provides jobs for student staff members who help coordinate the groups and keeps custodians, dining staff, and other campus service providers employed during the summer.