As the academic year wound down and most students and faculty departed for the summer, the Conferences & Events team was gearing up for its busiest time of the year.
This summer, Heidelberg will host a total of 23 camps during June, July and August, including some newcomers. High school band and sports camps and a number of youth sports camps will return this year. Participants range from the several dozen to several hundred at a time, all of whom need a place to sleep, meet and eat while on campus.
Additionally, Conferences & Events has to plan for six orientation sessions for new and transfer students and the annual Alumni Weekend celebration, which brings several hundred alumni to campus June 20-23. Toss in a few weddings, reunions, parties and other assorted gatherings, and that makes for a very packed schedule.
For the past three decades, Heidelberg has hosted several hundred high school performers who participate in the Showchoir Camps of America. They’ll return to campus for their weeklong camp beginning July 5. At least five organizations will be holding their gatherings on campus for the first time this year, including the Polish Catholic National Youth Gathering, the Ohio Teen Institute, the Gold Drum and Bugle Corps from Oceanside, Calif., and the Ohio Library Support Staff Institute.
Lauren Austin Smith, conferences & events coordinator, employs a team of six students who live on campus to help with the many logistical issues that come with hosting camps – issues such as housing, meals, transportation and troubleshooting. “They really do a little bit of everything,” Lauren said. “Lots of last-minute things come up, and we have to be ready. … If there’s one thing I’ve learned, we’ve got to be flexible.”
While their responsibilities may involve set-up and tear-down for events and numerous other logistical details, Lauren knows the team’s work has another inherent level of importance: to make Heidelberg an accommodating, well-organized and attractive host.
“In the end it’s about the face of Heidelberg, making the campus and its facilities look good for the community and the country and making sure our guests have a great experience,” she said.
Undoubtedly, the camps generate revenue for the university. Some might conclude that they could be a recruiting tool for future students as well. “Some kids probably would never see Heidelberg if not for the camps,” Lauren said, adding that the summer events allow the university to showcase spaces and facilities in a unique way.”
Visit Heidelberg Athletics to learn more or register for summer camps and clinics.