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U’s Youth Summer School Is Cool


May 2008 - Ask any group of four to 18 year-olds how they anticipate spending their summer vacation and “go to school” will likely not make the top ten responses. Rock climbing, rafting, bicycling, photography, swimming...these are the favorite picks for summer. Interestingly however, it is in school that youth are perfecting these activities, through the University of Utah’s Youth Education summer camp programs.

As June sees the doors close to traditional education, the U is ramping up its classes and camps aimed at opening the minds of youth throughout the state. With everything from discovering the natural history of everyday meals to parent-child SCUBA, from learning physics through rock climbing to financial role-playing, Youth Education’s summer program has a class for nearly everyone.

“Our camps and classes are specifically designed for students eighteen and under,” says Claire Turner, director of Youth Education. “We want students to discover new interests, participate in high quality hands-on experiences and make new friends.”

Turner is proud to offer classes in a wide variety of topics ranging from animation to ’zine-making to guitar and everything in between. “If you don’t see what you are looking for in our catalog and you have an idea, please give us a call,” she adds. “Some of our best ideas come from parents and our students.”

Youth Education does not suffer from a lack of topics. Students can fill their summers with activities tailored to their interests. Podcasting, learning about medieval times, traditional SAT prep courses and youth opera are some of the topics available. With multiple start dates, the classes run throughout the summer, affording numerous opportunities for youth to acquire not one, but many specialties.

In addition to classes, Youth Education offers Club U, which kicks off June 9, offering week-long day camps for children and teenagers. Running through August 22, the camps are divided into 11 weeks, each week characterized by creative themes such as “Fins, Feathers, Scales and Tails,” “Lean Green Science Machine” and the grand finale week, “Splish Splash Summer Bash.”

Nate Friedman is the camp director and can’t stress its benefits enough. “It’s more than just a camp. We incorporate different colleges and on-campus entities into our themes. One week we had an engineering theme and collaborated with electrical engineering faculty. The kids have a great time and don’t know they’re learning. We sneak it in.”

Friedman says the greatest part of Club U is that students gain life skills and a sense of belonging over the summer. “We stress experiential learning and have some excellent counselors who are very qualified. Most of them are studying education or already are teachers.”

Students may enroll in one week, several weeks or a full summer of camp. With enrollment capped at 120 students per week, Club U maintains an average ratio of 10 campers per counselor.

Between Club U and Youth Education’s other classes and camps, the lazy days of summer are a thing of the past. That is, unless a class in leisure is requested.


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