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Stanford Report, September 6, 2000

Record 18,000 campers and conference-goers spend summer on the Farm


Summertime on the Farm means three things to most university denizens: construction, conferences and camps.

In addition to road work and building projects that kicked into high gear after graduation, staff and faculty shared the campus with a record 18,000 conference goers and campers attending 180 programs this summer.

More about summer on the Farm:

People want to use the university as a setting for their programs, says Carol Leynse, manager of Summer Conference Services. "Stanford is a desirable place to meet," she says. "The name is world famous and [the university offers] a retreat-like setting. It's not in a city with high-rise buildings. People like walking across campus."

Leynse and her eight-person staff work all year to prepare for the intense mid-June to Labor Day conference season. "We have to fit in with the summer session [classes]," she says. "Sometimes it can be a scramble" to find rooms. Construction can cause headaches -- last month two noisy road projects outside BOB House on Mayfield Avenue made it difficult for kids attending a computer camp to hear their instructors. Leynse had to intervene quickly and arrange for the work to be completed between sessions. "It's just everybody trying to get everything done at the same time," she says.

Although some people may view the camps as a nuisance, Leynse says they are an important revenue generator for Housing and Dining Services, under which the office operates. The summer program generates about $7 million to $8 million in annual revenues -- funds that are used to defray room and board rates for students. Leynse says that these rates would increase about 13 percent in one year if the camps and conferences did not exist.

Furthermore, the program helps to publicize Stanford's name. For example, this summer the university hosted the 8th International Conference on Computing in Civil and Building Engineering. Renate Fruchter, senior research associate in the Department of Civil Engineering, organized the five-day conference that attracted 300 participants from 30 countries.

"[The conference] provided a global forum for high visibility of Stanford's innovative and creative research and education efforts," Fruchter says. The Teaching Center and the Packard Electrical Engineering buildings in the Science and Engineering Quad offered high-tech facilities wired with "computing infrastructure for live demonstrations of cutting-edge software solutions for the construction industry."

From cheerleading camp to basketball camp, from an advanced Suzuki workshop to a conference on high-tech librarianship, Stanford offered a range of summer activities for youth and adults this year. Camps and conferences must be sponsored by a department head or faculty member, or fall under the university's mission of teaching, research or public service, Leynse says.

And for anyone who wondered why people were meditating in Narnia last month, or why a group of teenagers dressed in suits got so excited in the business school one day, here are some of the programs held on campus this summer: SR