Kids at college

Camps for summer entertainment

For the past 16 years, the University of Nevada, Reno has reached out to the youth of our community in a way that's not only fun, but also educational. Kids University, a summer program, has helped enrich the summers of future Wolf Pack fans and students.

Running seven weeks, Kids U offers parents an all-day summer camp option for children interested in learning and playing. A dynamic combination of recreation and education results in a full day of activity for the campers at Kids U.

“I just love how it's a community program,” said Teri Jones-Rodriguez, program director for Kids U. “Everyone is involved, from the kids to the counselors to the instructors.”

Jones-Rodriguez has been a driving force behind Kids U for the past 12 years. She helps plan the camps every summer and is also behind the selection of camp counselors.

“We have about 100 applicants for counselors every summer,” Jones-Rodriguez said. “We usually have about 25-30 actually work for us.”

Camp counselors are all university students. They are chosen based on experience with children and interest in the program. Counselors work 40 paid hours a week for the duration of the camp.

“I was really excited to be picked as a counselor,” said Lindsey Owens, former Kids U counselor. “It was a great way to become more familiar with my own campus and interact with some really great kids.”

Kids U also offers junior counselor positions to local high school students. These teens receive community service hours and aren't required to work the full 40 hours a week.

“The counselor and junior counselor options we have really help get teens in the area more involved with younger kids in the area,” Jones-Rodriguez said.

Kids U started in 1998 with six classes a week for six weeks. Now, it offers 13 different classes over seven weeks. University professors and Washoe County teachers are brought in each summer to teach these classes.

“Classes vary from math to science to art,” Jones-Rodriguez said.

Each class is given one teacher, two counselors and one junior counselor.

“It was always really fun to be in classes with the kids,” Owens said. “They would get really excited about cool chemistry experiments. It made school cool.”

Kids U provides the children an opportunity to take classes like these to help acquaint them with the concept of college.

“It helps them understand that college isn't scary,” Jones-Rodriguez said. “It's important to expose these kids at an early age to college campuses.”

With classes taking up the mornings at Kids U, recreation rules the afternoons. Dodge ball games, rock climbing and swimming at Lombardi recreation center are just a few of the potential activities.

“My favorite part of Kids U is peeking into the gym and seeing all the different kids playing together, no matter what age they are,” Jones-Rodriguez said.

For the Reno-Sparks area, Kids U has become a community-based opportunity to get children active and excited during summers. With a record 1,815 participants last summer, Kids U 2014 is anticipating another successful summer. Kids U will run from June 16-August 1 this summer.

“I love being a part of this university and this specific program,” Jones-Rodriguez said. “We are lucky to live in a town that college kids and young children can do something like this together.”