Summer camp season for youth is back at Fort Hays State University. After all youth camps were canceled a year ago because of the pandemic, youth from near and far are gathering on campus this summer to participate in a myriad of activities.
On weekdays during June and July, youth can be seen making their way across campus, on their way to participate in some sort of camp, ranging from science to athletics, from math to music.
Those interested in math or science have the opportunity to enroll in programs such as robotics or engineering, through the Science and Mathematics Institute (SMEI) or the Kansas Academy of Math and Science (KAMS).
The SMEI is holding “come-on-back” activities from 9 to 10:30 a.m. this week outside Forsyth Library. For more information on those activities, visit www.fhsu.edu/smei and click on the “free summer activities” link.
Sports camps have ranged from football at Lewis Field Stadium on the east side of campus to basketball, soccer, volleyball, and wrestling on the west.
Mark Johnson, head coach of the FHSU men’s basketball team, noticed an extra spark of enthusiasm in many campers who attended the Tiger basketball camp earlier this month.
“You could tell kids were excited, glad to get back to the things they are used to doing during the summer, and their parents were excited for them,” Johnson said.
The “so-good-to-be-back” feeling was a personal one for Johnson, who said he had been attending some kind of sports camp since he was in third grade.
“Last year was the first time I hadn’t participated in or coached at a camp for longer than I can remember,” said Johnson, who will enter his — year coaching at FHSU this fall. “It felt so good to be back, and I think the kids felt the same way.”
Next month, musically inclined students will converge on campus, toting instruments from building to building at the week-long 74th annual High Plains Music Camp.
Although not classified as a camp, the Hispanic College Institute will bring about 50 students to campus for several days in July. The HCI is a three-day residential program that prepares high school students to enter and succeed in higher education.
All the while, new on-campus first-year and transfer students are participating in Summer Orientation sessions throughout June and July.
“It’s invigorating to look out my window and see the campus alive this summer,” said Lisa Karlin, career advisor for Career Services. Her office is in Sheridan Hall and faces the campus quad.
“The other day, I saw a group of students participating in a fun activity on the quad during Summer Orientation,” Karlin added. “I can’t wait to welcome our new and returning students this fall.”
Kansas Wetlands Education Center (KWEC), which Fort Hays State manages in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism, also has summer programs available. KWEC, which overlooks Cheyenne Bottoms, is the largest inland marsh south of the United States located northeast of Great Bend.
Most of the traditional camps at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History are being conducted virtually as last year, with plans to return to the full-scale, in-person model next year. However, after the success of last year’s virtual camps, David Levering, Sternberg camps director, said he is considering offering camps both online and in-person next year.
“Last year, virtual was the only option for camps,” he said. “We learned some things that only came about because of COVID-19. In the future, what we learned during the pandemic is going to be really beneficial in our camp offerings. We are going to take advantage of gaining something positive out of it.”