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Friday, June 24, 2022

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SDSU men's basketball head coach Brian Dutcher speaks to kids at basketball camp. SDSU men's basketball head coach Brian Dutcher speaks to kids at basketball camp.

SDSU Summer Camps Draw Local Kids

Science, athletics, and performing arts camps at SDSU give many local kids the opportunity to learn on a college campus.
By Jeff Ristine

“I definitely see the excitement.”

You have to push yourself beyond the basics, head basketball coach Brian Dutcher tells the players, seated on one of the courts at San Diego State University’s Aztec Recreation Center. “Don’t go through the motions,” he says. “You won’t get any better if you go through the motions.”

His audience has just shot some warm-up free throws, and Dutcher draws their full attention. “There are things you do in front of everybody,” the coach continues. “It’s the thing you do away from everybody that makes you great….Put your time into the thing you want to be great at.” 

Then it’s back to the floor as the players, some standing under five feet tall, put the motivation to work—or just resume having fun with new friends, which sometimes is the whole point of summer camp. 

The chance to learn fundamentals from coaches who won a conference title and sent a team to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament only three months earlier is among dozens of opportunities open to youngsters enrolled in summer camps at SDSU. Camps focused on athletics, recreation, the performing arts, science and a variety of other activities give local kids a taste not just of the university campus, but also of the talents and brainpower of its faculty, staff and students—a week of instruction with a collegiate touch.

From tubas to tornadoes

Summer 2018 camps already are well under way. Here is a look at some of the activities offered:

The Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education (CRMSE) offers six camps over a two-week period in July, geared to 9- to 14-year-olds. Faculty members help prepare student interns from the College of Sciences  to lead the camps, designed to align with multistate Next Generation Science Standards and spur interest in STEM fields.

A “Wizarding World of Wonders” camp for the youngest kids explores chemical reactions and creations made from connecting blocks; “Natural Disasters” looks at forces such as electricity and weather and has participants create tornadoes in a bottle; “Critter Sleuths” borrows crime-scene investigation tools to solve a mystery over the course of a week.

Being on a college campus is a first for many, said student assistant Kelsey Scott, and visits to a biology or chemistry lab—complete with goggles and white coats—provide an experience they do not get at other summer camps.

“I definitely see the excitement,” said Scott.

Sailing as a STEM activity

The four-day basketball camps are run by Matt Soria, director of basketball operations, featuring periodic visits from Dutcher. They are among Aztec sports camps that include girls’ basketball, baseball, high-school football, girls’ lacrosse and soccer.   

Teaching is tailored to age level, which ranges from 4th-grade first-timers to high schoolers already on a team. Soria, who has directed the camps for 10 years, said he has seen former participants return to campus years later as students. The camp “promotes our program, it promotes the university and really shows what San Diego State is all about.”

At the Mission Bay Aquatic Center (MBAC), “all of our camps are educational in nature,” said Kevin Waldick, assistant director.

Operated by SDSU’s Associated Students, MBAC runs a wakeboarding and water skiing camp that has provided thousands of kids with their first experiences in surfing, wakeboarding, and windsurfing over the past 45 years.

U.S. Sailing, the national governing body for the sport, designated MBAC as the West Coast Center of Excellence for its use of sailing to inspire interest in STEM principles. Campers don’t just learn how to sail, they learn about the forces at work to make sailing possible. Activities such as building anemometers to observe and measure wind help hone early scientific thinking skills.

The School of Music and Dance offers intensive training in three specialized areas.

The one-week (June 25-30) Westwind Brass Summer Workshop is exclusively for players of euphonium, horn, trumpet, trombone and tuba. Training in small ensemble and solo performance from members of SDSU’s Westwind Brass ensemble-in-residence culminates in a public performance.

The school also conducted San Diego Bass Fest, a  four-day double bass workshop presented by the SDSU Community Music School and the Hausmann Chamber Music Program Summer Festival, providing classes and performances aimed at serious string, wind, brass and piano players ages 12 and older.