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Digging into summer fun at ASU

From science and sports to cooking and the arts, camps open up new worlds of learning for schoolkids from around the state

Students dissect a plant on a tray.
July 07, 2016

The academic pace slows a bit in the summertime at Arizona State University, but the energy level stays high as thousands of young people come to campus for camp.

Middle schoolers sleep in the residence halls, little kids hit golf balls at Karsten Golf Course and teenagers on the brink of life decisions can take college-level courses, learning to start businesses, create smartphone applications and become published authors.

This summer, nearly 4,500 young people will attend more than 30 summer programs at the Polytechnic, Downtown Phoenix, West and Tempe campuses. It's part of ASU's mission to serve its surrounding communities and expand access to education.

Some of the camps are designed to inspire teens who might not see college in their futures. The Fleischer Scholars, Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute and Hunnicutt Future Educators Academy, among others, bring high school students to ASU to not only visualize themselves on campus, but also to learn leadership skills and find personal insight.

“We give them an opportunity to be here overnight, and we expose them to college life and they say ‘Wow, I can picture myself here,’ ” said Connie Pangrazi, the assistant dean of academics at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, which sponsors the Hunnicutt camp.

Some camps focus on the academic experience. The 500 Barrett Summer Scholars draw high-achieving seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders who compete for a spot in the program, where they take electives in journalism, nursing, sustainability and other subjects. Other sessions teach Chinese, digital culture, video games, archeology, writing, accounting, math and art.

ASU offers several sports camps for kids, who can use the university’s top-notch facilities, and children with special needs can attend sessions run by expert faculty and staff members.

One of the best parts of the camp experience for older teens is the chance to interact with current ASU students who are peer mentors. The college students talk about how they paid for college, decided on a major and dealt with loneliness.

Samuel De La Ossa, a sophomore majoring in business communications, was the lead mentor in the Fleischer Scholars camp, sponsored by the W. P. Carey School of Business. He had been a Fleischer Scholar himself when he was in high school.

“The biggest thing I want them to take away is that they have a friend. This is a Fleischer family,” said De La Ossa. “It works. We’re able to break through to these juniors and make sure they’re not nervous and give them the resources they need.”

Klain Benally, an American Indian studies major and a Navajo, was a peer mentor at the Inspire Academy camp for Native American teenagers. He said that Native American youth have many cultural and social hurdles to overcome when transitioning from high school to college.

“There is a culture shock, no doubt about it,” Benally said. “One of our goals is to teach students about college, the steps they need to take, and how to connect with one another once they are here.”

Explore some of the many camps on offer at ASU this summer in the gallery below.

Top photo: Students examine the parts of a Madagascar Periwinkle at the Barrett Summer Scholars program on June 27. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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