group of kids and student leaders sit on the grass. kids all wearing red "Club U" t-shirts.

Keeping kids engaged this summer

Note: Banner image was taken during Club U morning circle in 2018.

Each summer, thousands of students in grades K-12 visit the University of Utah for various summer camp opportunities. Whether it’s a more traditional 10-week summer camp or a specialized three-day camp, it’s a chance for students to spend time on campus and visualize what it would be like to be a student at the U.

“These students are able to connect with college students and faculty, spend time in labs and really see themselves at an institution of higher education,” said Nate Friedman, associate dean of Online and Continuing Education. “It’s also a really important child care resource for many people in our community and who work at the U. My child will be going to a university camp for the first time this year and it’s so convenient to be able to drop him off right on campus and know he’s in a safe place, learning great things.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, summer 2020 camps were all online. This summer, there is a mix of in-person and virtual summer camps to help give families a choice.

“Last year, COVID was all so new and online learning was new to so many of us,” said Marci Hutchinson, education coordinator of Youth Protection and Program Support. “But this year, every department has been able to create well thought out learning opportunities and create hands-on experiences while keeping kids safe.”

The summer camp offerings on campus are diverse. From the athletics department and Red Butte Gardens, to the College of Engineering, students can participate in science, outdoor recreation, art, music and much more.

Since they are running at reduced capacity, many of the summer camps at the U are filling up quickly. However, there are opportunities to join waitlists and search various departments on campus if your child is particularly interested in a specific subject.

“I think this summer, almost more than any other time, kids need to be together and have that social and emotional learning—especially those students who were still in school online,” said Hutchinson. “And there really are options for everybody. If you don’t feel comfortable sending your child in person yet, there are online options to keep them engaged.”

In addition to COVID safety protocols, the U’s Safety of Minors policy outlines several mandatory requirements which are designed to provide a safe, educational environment for all youth participating in University of Utah programs. Hutchinson and Friedman advise parents and guardians to ask program leaders about their youth protection policies. Learn more about the Safety of Minors policy here.

Listed below are just some of the areas on campus offering summer camps. If you’re interested in a specific college or department, check out their website to see if they are offering youth camp this summer.