SRU camps and conferences bring visitors to campus



The Forge Dance Intensive will be one of more than 40 camps and conferences hosted by Slippery Rock University this summer. The workshop targets dancers ages 17-27 for non-competitive instruction.

May 12, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Don't let the absence of students fool you. Slippery Rock University expects to have at least 900 more people on campus this summer than last, due to a 27 percent increase in registered participants for summer camps and conferences.

The University has 47 summer conference groups with more than 4,200 registered participants scheduled this summer, said Christopher Cole, SRU director of the Smith Student Center/Conference Services. In 2015, the University hosted 42 conference groups with more than 3,300 registered participants.

Cole said SRU expects to improve on last year's $600,000 in total revenue received to pay for housing, dining and use of athletic and classroom facilities.

Visitor groups representing a cross-section of interests will take advantage of SRU's sports fields, classroom buildings and residence halls. They include marching bands, men's and women's sports, cheerleading, Special Olympics and professional groups such as the American Red Cross.

Several first-time programs will be offered, two of them by coordinated by SRU faculty. Jonathan Helmick, assistant professor of music, will offer Roger Bobo's Festival of Brass. Ursula Payne, professor of dance, will direct the Forge Dance Intensive. The workshop targets dancers ages 17-27 for non-competitive instruction.

"Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer counties and northern Pittsburgh are in need of a world class summer dance intensive program, to rival the caliber of dance festivals available in other cities," Payne said. "Students will receive excellent training from highly regarded national and local dance artists."

The program will also expose the region's dancers to SRU's nationally ranked dance program.

Cole said other new groups include the Northeast High School Regional Ultimate Frisbee Championship, the American Red Cross Western Pennsylvania Training Institute and the American Chesterton Society. The Chesterton society, which is bringing people from across the country as well as participants from Canada and Ireland, studies works by the late Gilbert "G.K." Chesterton, an English writer and literary critic.

Cole said SRU's buildings and fields, easy access from Interstate 79, parking and residence halls have helped make campus a summer camp and conference destination site.

"We're always excited when new people come," Cole said. "For many, many years, the focus has been on youth experiences with sports camps. We have expanded. We like to bring youth to campus for the potential recruitment aspect. People would be surprised to know how many adults come, whether it's for American Red Cross training or a special interest groups such as the Chesterton Society."

Cole said his office classifies groups within the categories of conferences and external and internal camps. Conference groups rent classrooms and include groups such as the Pennsylvania Economic Association, the George Junior Republic of Indiana (the state) and the Walsworth Yearbook Association.

Outside groups rent facilities for external camps, such as Intrepid Lacrosse, Fox Chapel Boys Soccer and Keystone Girls Basketball. SRU coaches and professors will offer 11 internal camps this summer, including cross-country, women's field hockey and SRU Jazz.

"The goal is to fully utilize the campus in the summer to help our campus partners," Cole said. "Housing benefits from folks staying in the residence halls. Athletics benefits. Lots of people benefit from having folks on campus."

Cole said SRU could accommodate twice as many groups and is taking steps through advertising and an enhanced web presence to boost awareness to attract business. The season begins May 13 with the arrival of the American Red Cross and concludes Aug. 19 with the West Allegheny Boys Soccer Booster Association.

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