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Camps add visible summer spunk

They come in droves, invading the dining halls with sweet-teethed mischief and sun-burnt faces. Exhausted from a day of four square or a grueling tennis practice, they are escorted by a more mature onlooker. Sound like a familiar scenario? Move over students, summer camps have made their way into U.Va.

The Summer Enrichment Program, a camp geared towards gifted and talented students from grades four through ten, houses campers in the Alderman Rd. dormitories. Classes, however, are not held on Grounds, but at St. Anne's middle school. Barbara Rogers, secretary for SEP, said that "rising 5th-8th graders make up the majority of campers." She added that a total of 936 kids will participate in the program throughout the summer.

A large percentage of SEP's counselors are U.Va. students. This summer 30 of the 44 counselors are from the University, the highest number of University participants ever. "We invite counselors back who have worked here before. Head counselors review applications and invite applicants back for an interview," Rogers said. Rogers believes that a good camp counselor "has good instincts and is fun, energetic, creative and dependable." She added that "a fair amount of U.Va.'s counselor applicants come from the Education School."

Campers participating in SEP must also apply to the program. Applications are comprised of a series of short answer questions that focus on critical thinking. Although grades are not considered criteria, teacher recommendations and standardized test scores do factor into the application process.

A different species of summer camp can be found in sports camps and daytime instructional programs. The 4 Star Tennis Academy, perhaps one of the University's best known summer sports programs, has been in existence since 1975.

Other sports camps include soccer, lacrosse and softball camps. Julie Myers, head of the upcoming Women's Lacrosse camp, described the three day long overnight camp as a fairly intense program. She said the camp's objectives were to help the high school age campers get "better individual skills as well as team concepts." She added that there would be no outside activities other than sleep, considering the lacrosse practices would last eight hours each day.

Although University students enrolled in summer session classes may not interact much with campers directly, younger campers definitely make themselves heard, according to Edward Gutauskas, director of Dining Services. Gutauskas said that this summer the dining halls have been "noisier and more active." "Sometimes they play around with the soda machines," Gutauskas added. "But [he] hasn't noticed [O'Hill] being messier." Gutauskas also said that dining services "changed the menu a little" to make it include food more popular with children. We serve "hot dogs, pizza and french fries more often," Gutauskas said.

As for students' views of the campers, most don't seem to be affected by them much outside of the dining halls. However, they are noticeable because they "travel in packs," Clare McGrath said. Perhaps Camp Wahoo will make more of an impression on students with the start of Summer Orientation.

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