Summer camps on college campuses
A week away, a lifetime changed forever
How does a week-long engineering camp – geared to grades seven to 12 – on a college campus, all fees included, for $375 sound? Or how about a week exploring the different fields of engineering at Santa Clara University … for free?
As hard as it can be for parents to let their kids go away without them for the first time, a good summer camp, where a teen can have an enriched school experience, explore personal passions and get a taste of college life, can be a life-changing experience.
Below are eight sleep-away camps that cost $500 a week (or less), all expenses included, except travel. Most are only one week in length, long enough to have a meaningful experience, not so long that your child will complain about “going to school” all summer.
Two years ago, my son spent a week at The University of Texas at Arlington Engineering and Computer Science Camp. The university offers one week camps designed to provide students with a broad exposure to the variety of engineering disciplines – aerospace, biomedical, civil and environmental, computer science, electrical, materials science and mechanical – plus related topics in chemistry and physics. Field trips to see engineering at area businesses and team projects supplement the classroom activities. Each session is limited to 50 students.
The Bridge (entering grades seven and eight) and Gateway (entering grades nine and 10) camps are residential camps in student dorms that start with a Sunday evening orientation session and end with a Friday evening awards session. The program fees covers housing, project materials and activities. The cost is only $375 (less than some local Sonoma day camps) largely because the large engineering companies in Texas subsidize the camp with the hope of encouraging budding future engineers. uta.edu/engineering/summercamps/
Similarly, Auburn University in Alabama hosts dozens of very reasonable summer programs on campus, typically costing around $500, all expenses except travel included.
Their options include: architecture camp,
engineering technologies, math and science bridge, creative writing, journalism, veterinary, musical theater, marching band, robots, world affairs and more. Most are open to grades nine through 12, although some are open to middle-schoolers. All take place on Auburn’s beautiful campus in Alabama. auburn.edu/outreach/opce/summercamps/
I really like the range of camp options available at University of North Carolina in Charlotte. Aspire! is a week-long residential program for students entering grades 11 or 12 who want a sneak preview of college life. They offer seven academic strands – musical theater, motorsports engineering, law, creative movement, accounting, IT and engineering design and advanced autonomous robotic vehicles. During the day, students work with their group and in the evening they mingle with the students from the other strands. This camp is $475 and runs Sunday evening till Friday evening. summercamps.uncc.edu/camps/aspire-grades-10-12.
The totally free Summer Engineering Seminar at Santa Clara University is for high school students curious about engineering. The program is designed to introduce students to the engineering profession, to the academic expectations of college and to university life. The two week-long sessions in 2012 will be July 29 and Aug. 5. The program is designed to encourage students to pursue science and engineering majors in college. Participants eat their meals in university dining facilities, attend special workshops and complete their own engineering projects. Workshops span several fields of engineering including: bio, civil, computer science, electrical and mechanical engineering. This camp is open to students entering grades 11 and 12. It is introductory in nature and students who have no exposure to engineering are preferred. Everything is free, except travel to and from their campus near San Jose. scu.edu/engineering/about/ses.cfm.
The South Dakota Schools of Mines and Technology in Rapid City offers a very cool camp that might be a great choice for a teen who likes science and metal shop. Students explore the world of forensics engineering and material analysis by conducting laboratory experiments; building a samurai sword; trying out metalworking and blacksmithing and learning through forensic engineering how materials fail. Students go on field trips to visit a local metals mine as well as to local industries to learn about material applications in This camp is July 8 through 12 for grades 10 through 12 and costs $550. hpcnet.org/learn/youth/forensicsandmaterials.
The Missouri Institute of Science and Technology’s ASM Materials camp, which sounds similar in some ways, is free. They offer one session: July 22 through 27 for rising high school juniors and seniors. This camp centers around materials science and engineering, and opportunities for careers in these fields. Teens explore materials science and engineering principles through a combination of mini-demonstrations, field trips and group projects. Past projects have included microelectronic circuitry, friction-stir welding, ceramic magnets, metal casting, glass processing, heat treatment and others. Room and board, meals, educational materials and activities are free, but parents pay for student travel to and from Rolla, Mo. precollege.mst.edu/materials/.
Because so many of the reasonably priced camps center around math and science, it can be hard to find ones with an arts focus. One of my favorites is the California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA), a prestigious four-week summer session held on the Cal Arts campus in Valencia with programs in animation, film/video, creative writing, dance, music, theatre and visual arts. At $1,500 for four weeks, this is a bargain, as it covers room, board and tuition, and further financial aid is available. It is open to students entering grades 9 through 12. Applications are due Feb. 28. csssa.ca.gov.
If your teen is more interested in politics, government or current events, the Junior Statesman program might be perfect for them. The well-regarded Junior Statesmen Institute explores today’s pressing policy challenges with the decision makers who are shaping the future. Teens gain knowledge and skills to make a difference with the issues that will affect them the most in the future. Junior Statesmen participants interact with elected officials, policy makers, business leaders, journalists and lobbyists. Teens get a better understanding of how government works and learn how they can get involved. Best of all, they learn to work with and share opinions with other high school students from all over the country. These three- or four-day political institute programs each cover a different set of topics and are held at different campuses: The Arizona Institute on Leadership and Politics at Arizona State is June 10 to 13; The Texas Institute on Politics and Presidential Leadership at University of Texas Austin, is June 4 to 7; The Gene Burd Institute on LA Media and Politics at UCLA is July 23 to 27; The California Institute on Leadership and Politics at UC Davis is June 26 to 29; and The Northeast Institite on Leadership and National Security at Princeton University is Aug. 8 to 11. These sessions are each $475. jsa.org/summer-programs/jsa-institutes-2/.
If you know of other great, relatively inexpensive summer programs on a college campus, please let me know. There are hundreds of other camps out there but most cost upwards of $1,000 a week.
Because they are very inexpensive relative to their peers, all of these camps have limited enrollment and a detailed application form that may include transcripts and recommendations.
Most have an application deadline in late February or early March.