While summer is typically a quiet season on many college campuses, the opposite was true at Malone this year,

where more than 80 middle and high school students from nine states (including Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Florida, Washington, New Mexico, Indiana, and Ohio) participated in newly-launched residential academic camps.

What originally began as an initiative to increase visibility and enhance traditional enrollment quickly evolved into an opportunity to unite the Malone community in unanticipated ways.

More than 40 faculty and staff rallied to help Zoo and Wildlife Biology Camp, Nursing Camp, Young Writers Camp, Science Careers Camp, Computer Science Camp, and Chamber Music Camp come to fruition.

“Research and enrollment data both suggest that academic camps are currently one of the most effective ways to connect prospective students with faculty in their field of interest,” said Tim Bryan, vice president for enrollment and marketing. “They are an excellent opportunity to introduce talented, passionate, and engaged students to all that Malone has to offer.”

After a test run of a Zoo and Wildlife Biology Camp in 2014, Zoo Camp returned for a second year, in addition to the other new camps.

“We thought that a camp that emphasized handling and training animals had the potential to be highly appealing to high school students. We also wanted to expose students to a wide variety of potential careers in the natural sciences,” said Jason Courter, assistant professor of biology.

Multi-dimensional faculty buy-in supported the success of the academic camps.

Lori Cooke, clinical instructor of nursing, not only sent her daughter to Nursing Camp, but she also served as an instructor for it.

 “Teaching at the camp was such a great opportunity to meet students interested in nursing in a low-key and engaging way,” Cooke said. “They loved the trip to Akron Children’s Hospital and the collaborative EMS activity that we facilitated with Stark State,” she said.

Chamber Music Camp featured a unique collaboration with the Canton Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

“Since Malone and CSO collaborate for piano, voice, and string masterclasses, it was a natural progression to work together with the Canton Youth Symphony and their conductor, Dr. Rachel Waddell, to develop a camp to complement their summer string camp offerings,” said department chair Michael Benson, assistant professor of music and coordinator of keyboard studies.

The camp attracted students who already participate in the Canton Youth Symphony, but it also attracted students who were interested in participating there in the future.

“I originally sent my daughter to Chamber Music Camp because we wanted to support Malone’s summer camps and hoped it would help develop her musical skills,” said Suzanne Nicholson, chair of the department of Bible, theology, and ministry. “By the time the week was over, she not only enjoyed making new friends and interacting with the instructors, but she also gained the confidence to audition for the Canton Youth Symphony—and she got in!”

Malone alumni found value in sending their children to participate in the camps.

“My daughters had two very different, yet beneficial, experiences by attending this year’s Chamber Music Camp,” said Jen (Martin) Carroll ’96. “My younger daughter texted me while she was at camp and asked if she could return next year, and my older daughter discovered more about her musical interests as a result of attending. She learned that Chamber Music isn’t the direction she wants to pursue as a musician. However, camp instructors used her arrangement of Fall Out Boy’s Centuries during the final performance, which was a highlight of the summer for her. That moment inspired her to delve deeper into music theory and attempt other arrangements of pop music for strings. It opened her eyes to a career she never considered before.”

Student Mentors, who are current Malone students from the various camp disciplines, served as camp counselors for the week.

They lived in the residence hall with the campers and encouraged participation in academic and recreational activities. The experience proved to be an opportunity to reignite excitement for a future in their chosen career fields.

Jessica Jones,’16, is a biochemistry major who worked with the Science Careers Camp students.

“I really enjoyed showing the campers how to use the lab instrumentation,” she said. “Even when they seemed overwhelmed, their excitement to use sophisticated equipment, goggles and gloves included, was contagious.”

“I was so impressed by the knowledge some of our campers already had about the medical field,” said Amanda Beam, ’17, a Nursing Camp student mentor. “They loved to play hangman with medical terminology during downtime, and I had a hard time stumping them—they even guessed my 16-letter word with only one letter on the board!”   

“It is rewarding to see our student mentors sharing information that they have learned in their Malone classes with campers, and to get to know them on a more personal level,” Jason Courter said. “There is something amazing that happens when like-minded people join together to learn about subject matter, even for a short week.”

An endeavor like academic camps is only a success when the whole campus community pitches in to help.

Events Coordinator Cindy Lundin was one of the voices at the table during early discussions about hosting academic camps on campus.

“It was with tremendous support from the University Relations staff that the camps grew from one to six over the course of one year,” she said.” There were so many departments—and volunteers— involved; through this, I learned that without support of passionate and diligent people, visions remain a ‘vision’ rather than becoming a reality.”