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From art to aviation, SIU summer camps engage students
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From art to aviation, SIU summer camps engage students

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Luci Vick does not own a horse — yet.

But if and when the 12-year-old from Tamms is able to convince her parents to get her one of her own, she will be better prepared to care for it and know better how to ride after participating in “Saddle Up,” one of dozens of summer camps at Southern Illinois University.

Campers are learning how to fly airplanes, become better students, speak another language, play better on the field or stage through a variety of in-person and virtual camps for ages 5-18.

The university is offering more than two dozen camps, coordinated by the university’s conference and scheduling services office and offered on campus and at other locations.

At the university’s Equine Center on McLafferty Road, Vick and her fellow campers learned everything from horse anatomy to nutrition, horse care and riding skills, explained SIU Associate Professor Erin Perry who worked with the campers. Perry said participation in the camps gives students insight into potential career paths and more.

“These students are getting to explore new fields and they're growing their self-confidence, too,” she said. “I’m sure many wouldn’t get some of these same experiences outside of camps. This is a unique opportunity.”

At the SIU Transportation Education Center at the Southern Illinois Airport, a group of first-through-third graders spent time looking at the instruments and controls in a small aircraft before discovering how the technology makes a plane fly. They used toy models to understand propellers and designed, folded and decorated paper airplanes to learn concepts of lift.

Next week, another group of students will tour buildings to learn more about buildings and design, while others explore different art mediums and styles.

In July, students can participate in esports – competitive, multiplayer video gaming — or learn more about careers in advertising or accounting.

“There is such a variety of camps this year,” Sarah Vanvooren, associate director of conference and scheduling services, said. “We have some day camps, some virtual opportunities and some overnight camps as well.”

She said some camps are half-days, like the "Saddle Up" camp, while others are daylong. Most meet for five sessions.

Vanvooren stressed that camps were developed for the summer with the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions in mind, but said she is thrilled with the number opportunities available. Despite concerns, she said the number of campers registered for this year’s programs is high.

“I think people are really excited about getting their kids out and doing things this summer,” she said.

She added that camps are a great summer option for families where both parents work or where children are simply looking for things to do. She said not only do the participants enjoy themselves, they learn from professionals.

“One of the things that is really awesome about these camps is that they are hosted and led by educational professionals in their fields. So if you go to architecture camp, it is with an architecture professor; if it’s baseball camp, it is the actual Saluki Baseball coaches.”

Vanvooren said spots remain open for many of the camps. More information is available at


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For those downstate Illinois residents who want to breakaway from Chicagoland and form their own state, two Southern Illinois University Carbondale researchers have an emphatic caution: do not do it.

In a whitepaper released earlier this year by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, a think tank at the university, political scientists John Foster and John Jackson said analysis of Illinois state revenue and budgeting over recent years shows downstate Illinoisans would be worse off without Chicago than they are with their northeastern neighbors.

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