University plans annual summer camps for kids

By Rana Schenke, Staff Writer

This summer, the university will offer its annual variety of camps for children to experience what educational opportunities SIU has to offer.

“I’m super proud of all the camps we offer on this campus,” Sarah VanVooren, the Assistant Director of Conference and Scheduling Services said. “I really do think they’re a great way to showcase all the awesome staff, programs, and things… on campus that SIU has to offer.”

The university is offering 64 camps this year VanVooren said.


The camps cover grades Pre-K to entering college freshmen and span across various subjects including academic, athletic, art and music camps.

For academic camps, some of the offerings include LEGO camps, Mindfulness Camp, the Saluki Enrichment Pre-Vet Program, and Introducing Girls to Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture and Math (STEAM).

While participating in the LEGO camps, children will be inspired to think critically, problem solve, and construct functional devices or robots, according to the camp registration site and brochure.

At the mindfulness camp participants will learn the concepts of mindfulness, breathing techniques and beginning yoga.

“The main theme behind mindfulness is focusing on… more or less the present moment, kind of like present moment awareness,” Caleb Stanley, camp coordinator and doctoral student in Rehabilitation Behavior Analysis and Therapy said.

Mindfulness is not so much engaging with what’s happened in the past or what will happen in the future, but being present in moment Stanley said.

“[Mindfulness is] being aware of kind of the things going on in the right here, right now and being aware of the different things in your environment,” Stanley said.


Stanley said that children attending the camp will participate in multiple activities that relate to concepts of mindfulness, including games, yoga, and a craft at the end of the day.

“With a lot of the mindfulness activities, we focus on trying to teach [participants] how to become more aware of their environment and how to focus on things happening in the present moment,” Stanley said.

The mindfulness camp is a weeklong camp for ages 6-12. The registration deadline is July 5 and the camp meets July 9-13.

The Saluki Enrichment Pre-Vet Program is one of the newer offerings in the camp lineup.

It’s a two and a half day camp for juniors and seniors in high school or 2018 graduating seniors, according to the camp’s informational page.

Students participating in the camp will get to work alongside a licensed veterinarian.

“[Participants] get to see what a day in the life of a veterinarian is like, to learn about the requirements for entrance to vet school [and] to learn about the different careers in veterinary medicine,” VanVooren said.

Potential topics covered at the camp include proper scrub and suture techniques, pet first aid, and pregnancy exams in cattle according to the informational page.

The STEAM camp is for girls entering grades 6-8 and is a four-day program.

In the past, girls have participated in a study of campus lake, designing and testing robots, and design and build challenges, according to VanVooren.

“Last year the campers went to the transportation education center and they got to learn about how aviation works on this campus,” VanVooren said.

In addition to academic camps, the university is offering athletic camps, including a free fishing program through the Illinois Urban Fishing Program, cheer and dance camps, soccer, baseball, volleyball and cross country camps.

Many of the athletic camps are hosted by SIU team coaches, VanVooren said.

“The volleyball camps have been revamped [this year],” VanVooren said. “[Now] there are four volleyball camps offered throughout the course of the summer.”

Volleyball camps are offered for kindergarten through entering college freshmen, according to the camp’s informational page.

The available art and music camps offerings include drawing, painting, ceramics, sewing and woodworking.

“We have art camps, which are offered both through the Student Center Craft Shop and the School of Art and Design, and those range from drawing and painting, ceramics and pottery wheels to learning how to sculpt or learning how… utilize a variety of media,” VanVooren said.

Music camps offered include strings camp, piano camp and band camps for junior high and high school students, VanVooren said.

VanVooren said all of the summer camps have lasting benefits for the campers.

“Campers develop lifelong skills [and] they’ll have spent their days being active,” VanVooren said. “I think [going to camp] builds confidence in kids [and] helps them become more independent.”

Justin Broom, a senior majoring in Radio, Television and Digital Media and Theater, said attending the Radio-TV News camp in high school was an enjoyable experience for him.

“There was really cool equipment that as a high schooler living in a small town you wouldn’t see,” Broom said.

Broom attended the camp two summers in a row and said that attending the camp impacted his decision of what he wanted to study.

“This was kind of the thing that opened the door for me [career-wise],” Broom said. “I think it’s important to introduce kids to career options early.”

For a full list of camps offered and to register for a summer camp, visit the Conference and Scheduling Services website or call 618-536-7751.

Staff writer Rana Schenke can be reached at 

To stay up to date with all your southern Illinois news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.