CMU summer camps aim to educate, aid recruiting for future students

As Special Olympics Michigan finishes up its weekend of community-based fun, Central Michigan University official are preparing themselves and campus for 80 different camps set up for the summer season.

A good majority of them are related to the music department or university athletics, said CMU's Director of Events and Conference Services Cal Seelye.

Not only are the summer camps crafted as additional educational opportunities for pre-college students, the camps also serve one of the university's best methods of recruiting future students locally.

“If a student comes in with a positive experience at CMU, and they’re making their choices on where they want to go to college, that helps us,” Seelye said.

Two of the most popular camp programs are the Summer Music Institute and Grandparents U. The music program is made up of a series of private lessons for high school students specialized by instrument.

Grandparents U is a three-day, two-night event held on campus on June 18-20. The camp is for grandparents, the majority of them CMU alumni, and allows them to introduce their grandkids between 8-12 years old to campus. Grandparents U is put on primarily through the Alumni Relations department, said Annie Sanders, the associate director of Alumni Relations.

“They stay in the residents halls, eat in the dining commons and attend classes throughout the day in the various academic buildings and colleges on campus," Sanders said. "In the evening, they do recreational activities like swimming and bowling at the SAC, movies and all sorts of stuff. What we’re trying to do is two fold: Give alumni a chance to return to campus and get kids to campus for the first time and have them start thinking about college, CMU specifically.”

Classes emulated by the Grandparents U program include a chemistry magic show, an art treasure hunt across campus, a food-decorating class in Wightman Hall and a business startup class.

“They'll work on a business plan to start their first lemonade stand or lawn-mowing business,” said Sanders, speaking about the business class. “It’s really, really broad.”

About 200 grandparents and students are signed up so far for this year’s Grandparents U camp. The program has been a fixture at CMU, a length of time that has allowed Sanders and company to see the connection between grandchildren who attended the camp to those who later attend CMU as students, even if it isn't completely quantifiable.

“We haven’t actually done the data on that, so we’re not 100 percent sure, but we get the comments a lot that as soon as the kids go home, they’re definitely going to come to CMU,” she said.

Each individual camp has its own sign-up list on the program websites. Seelye said the camps are working to build one master website for all the programs next summer.

“That’s one of the things we’re working toward, but we don’t have in place yet. The reality is summer’s here, summer conferences have already started,” Seelye said. “What we do is host, we don’t necessarily recruit for them. The youth leadership camps come and have their own registration pages they go to.”

When most people sign up for summer camps, they are very likely going to stay at any of the residence halls at the Towers complex. Shawn Knight, the conference hall director for Camps and Conferences, said they will be busy throughout the summer housing patrons, especially with those athletic camps other than the Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games.

“We house a variety of the camps that they offer. They’re usually middle and high schoolers from all across the state,” Knight said.

The job for Knight is just like being a resident assistant, but with the responsibility of a hall director, which holds more administrative duties.

“We have long nights sometimes, but we know that’s what to expect,” Knight said. “We oversee people, where during the school year, student staff or RA’s don’t really do that.”

For a full listing of camps and conferences scheduled this summer at CMU, visit the Camps and Conferences home page on


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