Summer camps return to Winona State

Winona State University summer camps will return to campus starting in June after the majority of students have left Winona concluding finals week.

Camps offered at Winona State this summer include Camp Invention, College for Kids, Grandparents University, H.O.P.E. Academy, Lego Mindstorms, Scrubs Camp and a variety of athletic camps.

A Lego Mindstorms camper shows off his project. Submitted photo.

Ann Durley, interim assistant director of the Camps and Conferences Offices at Winona State, said some of the camps are created by Winona State and are hosted by faculty and staff and other camps are independent.

“Each summer we have a number of camps that we either offer using our faculty and staff or camps that we solicit, or contract, to come to our university and provide the camp,” Durley said.

The camps offered are either day camps or overnight camps, and last between two and nine days.

Durley described the typical camper turn-out rate she has seen in previous summers.

Camp Invention, which focuses on teaching students how to invent and build things, is one of Winona State’s most popular independent camps, according to Durley.

“It’s a really well-run camp,” Durley said. “Every year the number increases. I think we have close to 100 or anywhere from 70 to 100 people participating in it this year, so it’s a pretty big camp.”

Durley also talked about the success of Winona State’s Scrubs Camp, which is created for ninth through 12th grade students interested in medical careers.

A Scrubs camper practices drilling into leg bone with the help of one of her counselors. Submitted photo.

She said a study of 120 students who had participated in Scrubs Camp was conducted a few years back and determined one out of ten of those students attended Winona State.

Winona State’s athletic camps, which are run by the university’s athletics department, also bring in around 200 students every summer, according to Durley.

She said with the variety of camps offered at Winona State, the tally of campers each summer is around 2,000.

Durley said Winona State students can get involved with the summer camps by applying for a summer assistant position.

Typically, Winona State faculty and staff, as well as local and regional teachers, are hired as teachers and counselors for the camps created by the university.

Winona State students are hired by Durley to manage the front desk of residence halls for the overnight campers. They also act as RAs and are sometimes required to provide activities for students in the evenings.

Emma Ponto, a sophomore human resources major at Winona State and former camper, was recently hired by Durley for one of the summer assistant positions.

Emma Ponto, a sophomore human resources major at Winona State University, will be working June through August as a program assistant for WSU Summer Camps.

Ponto said her duties as a summer assistant will include opening and closing the residence halls between the spring and summer, cleaning dorm rooms for campers and creating bulletin boards and signs for the walls and doors within the dorms.

“We’re going to have to work the desk too,” Ponto said. “We’ll be mainly out of Kirkland, Haake and East Lake, so we’re kind of going to be, not necessarily camp counselors, but walking the students from building to building so they don’t get lost and then we’re just a person for them if they have questions they can come to us.”

Ponto also talked about her previous experience as a Winona State summer camp participant.

“When I did the camps here, that many years ago because I was going into sixth grade, then going into seventh grade and then going into eighth,” Ponto said. “I did the Jazz Band camp and I don’t think we have it here anymore.”

Ponto said during her camp’s three-day time frame, she and other campers would learn and practice jazz music for their concert, which took place on the camp’s last day.

She said attending summer camp at Winona State contributed to her decision to go to college here.

“We had a concert here outside and I remember telling my grandma, I was like, ‘I’m going to go to school here one day.’ And then I did,” Ponto said.

Ponto said she is looking forward to the camps starting soon, as she is excited to be participating in them once again.

“I remember when I went here, I was really shy and I still am, but I was way worse then,” Ponto said. “We were hanging out in (Prentiss-Lucas) after the day and I had remembered talking to the staff and I thought they were so cool and I wanted to be like them, so it’s kind of fun to be back and I actually get to be them.”

Durley said she is also looking forward to the camps starting because they make use of the university’s space during the summer months when most Winona State students typically return home.

“Obviously, we have this campus as a resource,” Durley said. “We have buildings, there’s classrooms and facilities that aren’t being used, so, like a lot of great businesses, the university is like, ‘What can we do to provide, to get these spaces used during the summer?’ and at the same time, provide something for the community as a bridge because we do want to see those youth think about us in terms of coming here to this campus in the future as a student.”

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