BYU Camps Offer Instruction, Improvement, Interaction
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- Every summer, BYU offers a variety of camps, such as for a specific sport, a musical instrument, strengthening testimonies, learning language skills, or improving ACT scores.
While college campuses often see a slower pace during the summer months, the Brigham Young University campus is swarming with students—a bit younger than traditional college students—attending a variety of camps offered on the university’s campus.
On any given week in the summer, anyone taking a quick walk around the campus will get a glimpse into a variety of camps offered. Whether they desire to improve in a specific sport, play a musical instrument, strengthen their testimony, learn language skills, or improve ACT scores, teenagers from all over are gathering for instruction and improvement and to have a good time with other young people with their same values.
“Summer is a busy time for BYU,” said Andrea Ramsey, who works in the Continuing Education Department at BYU and oversees the camps. “Camps start at the end of May and run through the end of August.”
More than 25,000 youth visit the BYU campus each summer from around the U.S., as well as other countries.
“We have groups of students from other countries like Japan and China who come to campus to learn English, dance, [or other skills],” said Sister Ramsey. “Participants come from Mexico, the Bahamas, Germany, Brazil—all around the world—to have a campus experience at BYU.”
Among the list of camps are many topics that are meant to help youth improve while they engage with their peers. Some camps have students staying on campus for up to three weeks, while others are as short as one afternoon.
In order to stay overnight on campus, participants must be at least 14 years old, but younger participants may participate in home-stay camps where they attend only during the day and go home that evening.
No matter the duration of the camp, thousands of youth are enjoying their time in the atmosphere on the BYU campus and making friends from all over the globe.
“I really liked how everyone had the same values as me,” said Brooklyn Jones, a 14-year-old from the Royal Oak Ward, Calgary Alberta West Stake, who attended BYU’s Music Festival. “What is pretty unique for me is being around people that like to do the same thing that I do.”
With thousands of participants, Continuing Education employs more than 2,000 individuals to run their summer programs. The expert instructors who run the camps come from many different places, but most are from BYU’s own faculty and student body.
“We are in a great place to find the employees that we need,” said Sister Ramsey. “We partner with departments on campus, so at camp you get a lot of great people who are specialists in their area. … They are not only BYU students [and faculty]; we hire from other universities as well. We try to find the best staff that we can—those who love the youth and can be inspiring to them.”
For example, professors in the Music Department at BYU give instruction during the Summer Festival music camp. Members of BYU’s Young Ambassadors performing group are some of the instructors for the young performers. The coaches for BYU’s athletic teams usually head the specific sports camps and draw from their teams’ rosters for help and more instructors.
“Many of the youth are big fans, so they come here and they love seeing the players they have seen play,” said Vince Stroud, the director of BYU sports camps.
The BYU sports camps alone include just shy of 13,000 participants.
“We have 80 different camps or clinics and 120 total throughout the year,” said Brother Stroud. “We offer quite a variety of camps and clinics—anywhere from a one-day clinic to a week-long camp.”
The youth sleeping overnight stay in campus housing and eat on campus. They have instructors during their specific camps and then other leaders who make sure the students are safe and supervised during their downtime. Other activities include swimming, playing tennis, dancing, bowling, photo scavenger hunts, cultural events on campus, and movies in the campus theater.
With the exception of Especially for Youth, the camps are not specifically focused on religion, but they definitely have religious elements to them. High standards are expected, and youth participate in devotionals and other faith-building activities.
Because of the BYU atmosphere, Brooklyn’s mother, Julie Jones, felt comfortable sending her daughter to a camp where she would be around people who have similar values and where she would get an experience of what it is like to live on the BYU campus.
“The camp had a pretty good summary of the itinerary and so there wasn’t a lot of ambiguity of what they would be doing,” Sister Jones said. “I liked that they incorporated a lot of religious aspects in the camp. I could send her to other camps, but who knows what values and things they will be teaching them, in addition to what the other kids would do.”
For many youth, joining with others who have their same values is the highlight of their summer.
“It was so much fun,” Brooklyn said. “I felt like there was a lot to talk about.“