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Summer Camps Provide Economic Boost to College Campus

BOONE–Summer camps and workshops offered on college campuses do more than teach the subtleties of the curve ball or how to master a potter’s wheel. They bring in valuable revenues by filling college residence halls and cafeterias.

Last year, summer camp revenues at Appalachian State University exceeded $2.5 million.

” It’s our financial salvation in the summer,” says Ron Dubberly, Appalachian’s director of food services.

Student enrollment drops from more than 13,000 during the academic year to about 3,500 during summer school. And because so few students live on campus during the summer, Dubberly says he might normally serve meals to only 200-300 students on a daily basis.

But Dubberly has salaries, utility costs and other overhead expenses to pay whether he serves one customer or thousands. The 10,000 or more individuals who are expected to enroll in summer camps at Appalachian help keep food costs low during the academic year and food services staff employed.

” If not for summer camps, the only way I could make up the loss would be with higher meal prices in the fall and spring,” Dubberly said.

Rick Geis, director of housing and residence life at Appalachian, says about 3,000 of the campus’ 4,800 residence hall beds will be used by camp participants this summer. Keeping residence halls full in the summer means his staff has year-round work. “I can remember back in the ’70s when we didn’t have summer camps. A lot of employees worked a 10-month schedule because we didn’t have work for them,” he said.

Appalachian’s summer camps are coordinated by the Office of Conferences and Institutes, which has seen its scope of services grow since the office was created some 30 years ago.

” Twenty or 30 years ago when you thought of summer camps, athletic camps were what came to mind,” said director Peter Vandenberg. “But the opportunities for academic camps are just as widespread.”

The oldest wrestling camp in the South, and perhaps the largest in the country, will attract about 2,500 participants over the course of 20 days this summer. Paul Mance, Appalachian’s wrestling coach and camp director, says proceeds from the camp help increase the wrestling program’s scholarship offerings, buy equipment, pay for travel to collegiate matches, and provide a source of income for his assistant coaches.

” It’s a big chunk of our coaches salary,” Mance said. “Most of us coach because we love coaching, not because money is the greatest in the world. You’ve got to love it if you want to do it.”

A cheerleading camp will bring in about 1,600 participants, while a cross-country camp will bring 800 participants to campus. In addition, Appalachian offers summer camps in softball, basketball, football, field hockey and volleyball.

Appalachian also offers a variety of instructional and academic camps for children and adults.

Cannon Music Camp will enroll about 400 student musicians this summer. A four-day math camp is expected to attract more than 50 middle and high school students who need extra help with algebra and geometry. Also scheduled is a print camp, focusing on offset, flexography and screen printing. A two-week summer enrichment program operated at the university’s Camp Broadstone serves academically gifted children in the fourth-ninth grades.

The newest offering is a forensic camp for high school students focusing on science and techniques used in the forensic investigation process. The topic is so popular that the camp was filled within weeks of being advertised.

Offerings for adults include craft workshops, leadership training for math teachers, a family therapy institute and music education workshops.

For information on summer camp programs at Appalachian, call the Office of Conferences and Institutes at (828) 262-3045.