Summer camp introduces incoming students to city
Susan Lewellyn, an incoming freshman from Carrollton, had one goal when she decided to attend the Friend of Louniversity summer camp last week.
She'd been prepped for what being a student at UofL would be like in the fall – living on her own, going to class, studying. But what about the rest of the city? What could she do when she ventured beyond the Belknap Campus?
"I was looking for a way to find out what to do in the city," Lewellyn said.
On July 8, she was at the midway point of a new summer camp designed to give her and 23 other students a taste of downtown culture and attractions – a glimpse of the possibilities in Possibility City.
"It's been great so far," she said before she left for a guided tour of downtown Louisville by UofL professor, metro councilman and historian Tom Owen.
The camp, organized by the Office of Civic Engagement, Leadership and Service in cooperation with Greater Louisville Inc.'s Friend of Lou campaign, invited incoming students to spend three days in downtown Louisville visiting popular attractions such as Slugger Field, 21C hotel, Belle of Louisville and the Kentucky Center.
Providing summer camp opportunities for UofL students had been discussed among university departments, but the timing had not been right until fall 2009. The Office of Civic Engagement, Leadership and Service brainstormed, gathering ideas about the needs of students and how a summer camp could meet those needs. The research found UofL students had two basic experiences in how they viewed Louisville: either they were highly engaged with the city and its offerings or they did not feel that they were part of the greater Louisville community.
Gerome Stephens, Coordinator of Student Leadership and Service Learning, drafted a proposal for the camp. The proposal spurred collaboration between the city’s Friend of Lou campaign and UofL. Community partners and attractions were also quick to jump on board, looking forward to the opportunity to share the city with its newest residents.
The camp goal was to make sure students felt embraced by and welcomed to the city and knew the attractions that were just beyond the campus border as well as introduce them to the arts, business, and service opportunities available.
"Getting to know a larger city can be overwhelming," said Stephens, who has lived in Louisville for three years. "We want them to see that Louisville's a friendly city and a city that is accessible to them."
For Jessica Carter, an incoming freshman from Lexington, the camp met two goals: seeing the city's sights and offering a chance to come out of her shell.
"Sometimes I have a tendency to be shy," she said. "This has given me a chance to open up. And seeing all of the places has been great. "
Maggie Ising, an incoming freshman, had a little different experience. She's from Louisville but wanted to get a glimpse of her hometown as a tourist.
"I really hadn't done all of the things we're going to do," she said. "I know some of the hot spots around town - but not everything."
The camp trips took them across downtown. Along the stops, local movers and shakers spoke to students and answered questions about how students could make the most of their next few years in Louisville.
Angie Fenton, a columnist for The Voice Tribune, answered questions about where to go for the best pizza and coffee for a study break, and broke down the city's "Keep Louisville Weird" campaign.
"You are going to have an incredible experience here," she said.