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Summer Camps at WMU... Even for your Eight-Year-Old

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WMU Summer Camps | KzooConnect

If you are looking for something fun for your children to do this summer, you may just want to consider sending them to college. Though that might not seem like the obvious choice for an eight-year-old, the truth is that Western Michigan University is hosting over 50 summer programs for youth of all ages and interests this summer.

Detailed information about all of the camps are on the WMU website. Clicking on the individual camp link you'll find an outline of the programs for parents and children to explore, making sure they find the best fit for summer fun!

Dr. Erika Carr, Director of Precollege Programming at WMU explains, "The goal of the website was the organization and centralization of summer opportunities. I am a parent as well, and you are always looking for things for your kids to do in the summer. This allows you to go to one spot and see what is available."

Dr. Carr went on to share, "We have quite a large variety of opportunities."

The camps are hosted by many different departments from WMU. For example, the 'Beyond the Lemonade Stand Program' is offered by the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Starting Gate, and the Haworth College of Business. It is open to high school students and according to Dr. Carr, "...it is designed to engage youth in entrepreneurial thinking." This includes looking at business plans and touring local small businesses.

The College of Aviation holds one of the more advanced camps for teens. In this program the teens even have an opportunity to actually fly an airplane. Like most camps there are associated costs but there are scholarships are available. Dr. Carr shared, "The aviation camps can cost as much as $2300, so the sticker price is high. But there is money available to help support students if their parents are not able to pay for it."

If you're a family with multiple age groups there are definitely camps that reach a variety of interests and age groups. For example, 'If I Ran the Zoo' program is aimed at elementary students while a middle-schooler with a passion for exploring might enjoy an archeology camp.

During the school year, Dr. Carr oversees Pre-College Programs at WMU. These programs including the Academically Talented Youth Program (ATYP), Gear Up, and Upward Bound also host summer programs.

ATYP offers many summer programs geared toward bright students who are eager to learn. However, unlike their school year program, there are no entrance criteria for these day camps. Dr. Carr describes the ATYP camps, as "...really challenging and super interesting. There is anything from forensic science to graphic novels."

Gear Up and Upward Bound are both federally funded programs to improve college access. These summer camps are free. As a first-generation college student herself, Dr. Carr is passionate about these programs.

"I didn't always feel like there was someone saying, 'yes go to college!' These programs open the idea or the possibility of college that the students maybe hadn't had before."

There is no cost to these camps, and the students have the opportunity to take classes in core curriculum, and tour several different college campuses. They are open to rising 9-12 graders.

When asked about success stories, Dr. Carr is quick to say every student who takes away anything from any of these programs is a success. She goes on to point to a particular student who went through four years of the Upward Bound Program. He then went on to graduate from Michigan State University and return to WMU to work as the Upward Bound Summer Camp Coordinator. This highlights the impact that a summer camp experience through WMU can have.

One of Carr's next goals is to centralize and coordinate the more than 400 opportunities for pre-college students available at WMU during the school year. She envisions a website like the one used for the summer camps.

Early exposure to college helps students visualize themselves as future college students. So even if WMU is not be where your child's college career ends, the WMU Pre-College Summer camps are a great place to get a head start and have a lot of fun. Make sure to take advantage of these programs by registering now as they do fill-up quickly and some start as early as June 1st.

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