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Cathy Schaefer

U employee and Curiosity Camp alum Cathy Schaefer

Why should kids have all the fun?

U offers summer camp-like activities for adults

May 9, 2006

"I don't have time." "I can't get away." "I can only take a day or two." Sound familiar?

If it does, you're not alone. Workplace studies show that more and more people are taking less and less vacation time each year. In fact, according to research done by a Harris Interactive study, Americans let more than 415 million vacation days go unused in 2004. Given a five-day workweek, that's nearly 1.6 million years of free time! So many people want to take time for themselves...but just can't seem to find the time. Curiosity Camp offers the opportunity for busy adults to nurture new interests, rediscover learning, and have some fun in a time frame that fits their schedule. So go ahead, take that vacation day. As camp attendees can attest, it may be the best thing you do for yourself all summer! Cathy Schaefer is just one of Curiosity Camp's enthusiastic alums. As an employee in the U's Office of Human Resources and someone who had taken a few credit classes on her own, Schaefer thought she was familiar with all the U had to offer...until she attended a Curiosity Camp.

More camps for adults

Here's a partial list of University-related summer camps for adults. If you know of another U-sponsored camp or camp at a U location, please send the name of the camp, a sentence-long description, and camp contact information to

Split Rock Arts Program
June 18-August 14
More than 45 summer workshops in creative writing, visual art, design, and enhancing creativity at the Cloquet Forestry Center and in the Twin Cities. You can choose from Split Rock Shorts (June 18-21) or weeklong courses. For more information, see Split Rock Arts. Sponsored by the College of Continuing Education.

Summer Public Health Institute
May 22-June 9
Courses include American Indian/Alaska Native health issues, avian flu, food safety and security, ergonomics, health leadership, wastewater treatment, and public health law. Participants can also register for field trips and a Health Care Reform Symposium. To learn more, see 2006 Public Health Institute or call 612-625-4515. Sponsored by the School of Public Health.

Catalyst Summer Institute
June 19-30
A weeklong program for K-12 science teachers to work directly with scientists and develop new or practical teaching strategies in science. To learn more, see Catalyst program. Sponsored by the College of Biological Sciences.

Plant science investigation
July 24-August 4
A two-week workshop for elementary teachers, with three follow-up meetings in the academic year, focuses on various aspects of the biology of plants, including photosynthesis and reproduction at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the Twin Cities campus in St. Paul. To learn more, see Plant science workshop. Sponsored by the College of Biological Sciences.

Center for School Change summer learning
June 27-August 9
Four courses are offered on the Twin Cities campus in Minneapolis. Topics include school and community partnerships and educating kids from poverty. To learn more see CSC summer learning. Sponsored by the Center for School at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

CARLA Summer Institute
June 26-August 4
Participants have included foreign language and second-language teachers from around the world. Course topics include study abroad, content-based language instruction, and the challenges of immersion. To learn more, visit CARLA. Sponsored by CARLA or the Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition.

"I was at a lecture over at the Bell Museum, and they were doing a presentation on summer camp," Schaefer says, "and it got me thinking--'Hey, it'd be great to have a summer camp for adults! Why should kids have all the fun?'" She went looking and found that there was, in fact, a "summer camp for adults"--right at the U.

"I was really into gardening, and my niece has a landscaping business and was looking to broaden her horizons," says Schaefer. "So we signed up for University professor Deb Brown's 'Gardening with a Guru' Curiosity Camp. "It was perfect for me--it was fun to be in a group of adult learners who have parallel interests. Plus, it's such a unique opportunity to be able to ask questions and learn from someone with that level of expertise. Having instructors who are 'names you know' is a big perk." The unique format of Curiosity Camp also interested Schaefer.

"This type of learning appeals to adults, I think, because it's a snap-shot," she says. "These classes are a great way for the U to reach people who wouldn't or couldn't jump right in to a full-length course. The concentrated format was especially nice for me, since I work full-time." And what summer vacation would be complete without a souvenir or two? Even better than a postcard or a trinket, what Schaefer took away from her experience at Curiosity Camp was a new passion. Inspired by one of the contributing instructors (Jeannie Larson, a faculty member at the U's Center for Spirituality and Healing), she has since gone on to receive her Certificate in Therapeutic Horticulture. "Sometimes I say it must have been divine intervention that I ended up on this path. I definitely learned more about myself and what the U has to offer. The experience really triggered something for me!"

2006 Curiosity Camp

These unique, interdisciplinary summer camps help adults rediscover how much fun learning can be. Take a day for yourself and join University and community experts who help you to see an intriguing topic in a new light.

For complete information, visit, or call 612-624-4000.