It’s summer on the UW-Green Bay campus, but the learning hasn’t stopped. It’s just that some of the students are a little younger — and a little older — than the University’s normal clientele.
It’s all part of Grandparents’ University, the multigenerational summer camp that bridges the generations for two days of learning and fun. The 2013 Grandparents’ U welcomed a record 204 students, taking an array of classes in arts, the sciences, business, communications and more.
“It’s a special relationship that the grandkids have with their grandparents,” said Mona Christensen, UW-Green Bay Director of Camps and Conferences, “and it’s a special place to be and they get to experience college life at the same time.”
GPU campers “major” in one of a dozen course offerings, taking classes from UW-Green Bay faculty members or community instructors with special expertise. The emphasis is on hands-on instruction, giving grandparents and grandkids the chance to learn new things together.
“I was very surprised how fast I learned and how easy it was, actually, to learn,” said 11-year-old Hunter McGowan, who attended the camp’s Hand Drumming course with his grandpa, Danny. “It’s very fun to do it. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy. And I always like spending time with my grandpa.”
And while GPU is a lot of fun, organizers and grandparents alike say there’s a deeper goal — exposing kids to college, and boosting their aspirations to one day attend.
“I’ve had grandparents say to me you know, there’s nothing more important to me than to make sure my grandson or granddaughter is going to college,” Christensen said. “And this is just the perfect opportunity to help them feel comfortable, and what a beautiful campus … they just love UW-Green Bay.”
It was the McGowans’ first time at GPU, and already they were making plans to come back.
“This gives him an idea of what campus life may be like and you know, how a class is structured with the teachers and so on and so forth,” Danny McGowan said. “So I think that’s — it’ll leave an impression on him.”
Make that, on both of them.
“This is just a great opportunity for any grandparent to spend time with one of their grandkids,” Danny McGowan said. “It just gives you an opportunity to hold hands, talk to each other, look each other square in the eye — all kinds of neat stuff. So it’s cool.”
Check out the Grandparents University website for more information.
Photos by Dan Moore, Outreach and Adult Access