Summer programs prompt enrollment

By Diane Buerger

One in five junior and senior high school students attending NIU academic summer camps later enroll at NIU as college students, with one in two majoring in the same area they studied at camp, a recent College of Continuing Education report states.

NIU holds eight one-week summer camps that include programs in musical arts, visual arts, theater arts, speech, “Crunch the Numbers Computer Camp,” field science, “Quest For Quality Journalism,” and “Hands on Biology.”

The camp began in 1983 with summer musical arts experience, and recently concluded its fifth year with an enrollment of 297 junior and senior high school students.

The report found that between 35 and 60 percent of 1988 campers said they planned on attending NIU as an undergraduate. A high percentage of campers are minorities, with the average overall minority attendance 22 percent.

The camps are funded by the university, the campers, and outside scholarships. Deborah Booth, coordinator of the College of Continuing Education, said, “We have subsidies from the provost and self-supporting camper registration fees, which can come from external scholarships or money that is given to the camper from PTAs (Parent Teacher Associations) and booster groups.”

The report found that in the 1988 summer camp, 127 campers received scholarships, totaling nearly $25,000. Alumni from NIU’s journalism department funded $8,900 of the total.

The average camp price is $290, which includes room, board and registration fees. Most camps, with the exception of the field science and biology camp, have a commuter option.

The field science camp receives external support from the Educational Service Center No. 1 in Rockford, and therefore is the cheapest of the camps at $225. The center gives funding for academically gifted students. Booth said, “The DeKalb area is under the Educational Service Center No. 1. There are 14 (centers) in the state of Illinois.”

The Educational Service Center has given about $6,000 to the camp this year and around $10,000 in the past. “We use it to give scholarships and to lower the cost for all the kids, and any money left over goes to the staff.”

In the academically talented camps, such as the field science camp, an application is completed by the student which includes an essay, SAT scores and whether there is a need for a scholarship. Scholarships are assigned after the applicant is accepted into the camp.

Other scholarships for campers are made outside the university and are funded by service groups. “For example, the (Chicago) Tribune might sponsor two kids to come to our journalism camp. In most cases that is how the scholarship works,” Booth said.

“Two of the camps were for junior high school students, the computer camp and the field science camp. Primarily it (the camp program) is for high school age kids.”

Booth said, “The camp directors are faculty members, graduate students work as counselors, and other faculty work as instructors.”

The campers usually stay in the dorms such as Gilbert Hall, but some stay in the Holmes Student Center hotel guest rooms or the summer conference center, which changes location from year to year. Booth said, “Very few (students) commute, but it (residence) depends on the camp and the camp director.