Summer is one our few slow, or at least slower, periods at FPU. We have a couple of really fast times—August through October and March through May. Mid-June through July gives us a little chance to breathe and plan. That is not the case for our admissions staff, who are going full speed through the summer helping students make final choices, awarding financial aid and connecting with those who make late applications. They will tell you a different story.
On the main campus there is a series of events that people tell us they really appreciate as good ways to fill up the summer weeks. It is part of our extended mission, and benefits the several hundred students who attend as well as the university. I am speaking about our various summer camps, all voluntarily planned by departments on campus. We have long-standing athletic camps in soccer, volleyball and basketball, and a newer addition in baseball. The camps provide activity for children—elementary through high school—give parents a little break and provide good instruction and modeling of healthy skill and competition. They also provide jobs and experience for our student-athletes who staff the camps, many of whom aspire to teach and coach. Coaches use funds raised for equipment, training, trips, scholarships and discretionary spending.
You can feel the energy when the camps are in session, especially in the Shehadey Dining Hall. If you want a meal, it is best to arrive a bit before noon to avoid the 100-200 kids lining up at the food bars. And forget about ice cream. The line is long, and slow. Kids love to create their own combinations. The pool gets well used also.
A few summers ago a representative from The Chronicle of Higher Education came down from the Stockton area to take photos and gather information for a story. The Chronicle is the national newspaper for higher education. He mentioned how much he liked FPU. When I asked how he knew about us, he spoke about the great experience his daughter had at the volleyball camp the year before. I hear the same about all of the athletic camps.
More recently we have added camps with different appeal. The music camp has been in place for at least a half dozen years under the direction of Walter Saul, D.M.A., professor of music. These are dedicated students who work hard with our faculty to produce something beautiful. Junior University, led by Matt Gehrett, Ed.D., executive director of continuing education, is a science and technology camp for elementary and junior high students, running two sessions this year. Local groups like the AIMS Foundation and the Fresno Rotary Club have funded equipment and scholarships for students who would not be able to afford to attend otherwise. And for the second year now, the “YES! Project” for high school students has created productions through the Woodward Shakespeare Festival. That camp is led by our theater director Julia Reimer, Ph.D., associate professor. The Student Life Division also hosts a Cheer Camp for boys and girls. These faculty and staff show an entrepreneurial spirit and they, like FPU coaches, are building their programs and serving the community. None of them have to make these extra efforts. But they love what they do, teaching and working with students. I applaud all of them.
Camps provide one more service we sometimes do not even think about. And it is one of the reasons we encourage them. Many of the students will have never been on a college or university campus prior to the camp they attend. Spending a week on campus, with university students as their counsellors and coaches, initiates them into a new world. The notion of a university education is demystified, becomes familiar and these children and young people can begin to see themselves as future university students. Some research indicates that if a student has not thought that they would be a college student by the time they are 10 or 12 years old, they probably will not become one. And if they do, they have a relatively low chance of graduating. By bringing such students on campus, our camps, our coaches, professors and students are encouraging the university student of the future. And if they become FPU students, well, all the better.
Here’s the whole list of camps: fresno.edu/visitors/summer-camps