Liberal Arts Summer Camps
Summer arrives. The UNH campus population dips as many students return home and faculty members move into research mode. It happens every year. But a new pool of students arrives each summer, too. They may look a little young for college, and they are. Ranging in age from 8 to 18, these students are here to attend one of the dozen or so youth camps that are administered annually by the University. The College offers nearly half of these camps, instructing youth in a range of fields from the fine and performing arts to writing to language study.
In recent years, UNH has been named a “community engaged” university by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a classification intended to recognize those institutions that build strong bonds within their communities. Just last year, UNH President Mark Huddleston cited outreach and engagement as one of a handful of guiding themes for the coming decade, affirming the central role community relations play in the mission of the University. The summer camps are an example of the types of outreach that have, over the years, brought the resources of the University to community members—in this case some of the youngest community members and their parents who are looking for enriching summer activities. Faculty members introduce new generations of students to their fields and students benefit from intensive learning experiences. Students also get a taste of what campus life will be like if they choose to attend college, whether that be UNH or elsewhere.
Tom Newkirk, director of the Writer’s Academy, suggests that it is that taste of campus life that is important in building a sense of community and integrating UNH into the lives of families throughout the region. “The University should be a place that middle and high school students in the area can own for a period of time,” contends Newkirk; “This is their university, too, and perhaps a place that they might attend full time later.” As the state’s flagship university, UNH is important in the lives of many families, but that value—and sense of ownership—can begin well before the traditional academic experience, and, for that matter, extend beyond it.
Raina Ames, director of the Theatre and Dance camps, expresses a similar sentiment about her programs. Beyond the teaching mission, she wants to encourage an affinity for both her discipline and the academic environment at UNH. “We hope not only to develop students’ skills but also to create lifelong lovers of the arts who might even consider majoring in theatre and dance at the University of New Hampshire,” says Ames. “We hope our faculty whet students’ appetites for what they could expect if they were to attend UNH.”
For summer camp students, the taste of campus life can have a profound effect as they “try on” the independence and social challenges that are integral to the university experience. One ninth-grader who attends the Writer’s Academy finds the program transformative: “The Writer’s Academy is more to me than just a camp or something to do over the summer; it’s the place I meet my friends, some old, mostly new, and it’s where I can just write and not worry about the punctuation or the grade...it’s where I do most of my growing up.”
Parents have been impressed by the sense of community that develops around a particular discipline during the camp experience, so that students identify with a larger, regional community of musicians, for example, or thespians.
It is the potential for mutually beneficial relationships that makes outreach such as summer camps so appealing to students, parents, faculty, and administrators alike. And it is gratifying to know that the University has a clear place in the life of the community.
Liberal Arts Summer Camps
In its third year and growing, the Museum of Art’s Art Camp offers training in the visual arts to students in grades 2–12. In a series of week-long nonresidential sessions, participants learn puppetry, watercolor techniques, color photography, woodworking, creative clay, and many other art mediums and techniques. Parents can take their own arts workshops while waiting for their children.
Runs: August 1–5 (2 sessions) and August 8–12 (2 sessions)
Registration Deadline: July 15
Now in its second year, STARTALK is a nonresidential two-week program intended to develop basic Mandarin Chinese language skills in youth in grades 5–7 and 8–10. Language study is reinforced with daily cultural activities such as Chinese martial arts, calligraphy, and dragon dancing.
For 65 years, SYMS has been providing outreach through intensive music instruction to students in grades 8–12. This residential program serves 650 students annually, with about half from New Hampshire and half from the other New England states and New York. Some students have come from as far away as Washington state, Texas, and even China, France, and Bermuda. In a packed one-week junior session and two-week senior session, students rehearse, learn, and perform from morning till night in a dizzying number of ensembles. Students stay in university dormitories and dine at the university dining halls, but they really sleep and eat music.
Runs: July 17–22 (junior session) and July 24–August 6 (senior session)
Registration Deadline: June 1
A division of the SYMS program, SYMS Prep is a day camp that provides an introductory-level SYMS experience to band students exiting grades 4, 5, and 6.
Runs: July 11–15
Registration Deadline: July 1
The Department of Theatre and Dance has offered theatre and dance summer intensive programs to students in grades 3–12 for well over 20 years. Eight different nonresidential programs provide training in acting, playwriting, musical theatre, stage movement, design, aerial dance, ballet, hip hop, and much more. About 130 students participate annually in these energizing programs.
Runs: July 11–15 (4 programs), July 18–29 (2 programs), August 8–19 (2 programs)
Registration Deadline: varies by program, with earliest deadline at June 20
The Writer’s Academy, now in its 14th year, is a successful and growing nonresidential program that teaches writing to youth in grades 6–11. The program enrolls 100 students annually with many attending multiple years for this unique opportunity to work on writing skills in a college environment.
Runs: June 27–July 1 (first session) and July 25–29 (second session)
Registration Deadline: none; sessions are filled on a rolling basis
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