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Each summer, Northwestern University coaches conduct summer camps in their individual sports, providing the coaches the opportunity to promote their sports to children in the metropolitan Chicago area. Most of the camps are conducted for three to five days from the end of June through July.
The Northwestern Camp Scholarship Program began in 2003, after the Office of Community Relations and the NU Athletic Department asked all Northwestern coaches if they would be interested in providing a few scholarships for Evanston kids who would otherwise never have the opportunity to attend a summer camp or receive professional training in a sport.
Coaches from approximately 13 teams provided 33 scholarships during the inaugural year. In all camps, if necessary, coaches supply these families with the required equipment. Each camp has its own age requirements, and in accordance with NCAA rules, scholarships can only be provided to youth going into eighth grade or younger.
Initially, Northwestern worked with staff of Youth Organizations Umbrella, and Family Focus to identify youth who would be appropriate for each camp. Three years ago, Fleetwood-Jordain Center staff joined in finding youth who want to participate. Northwestern University officials say the scholarship program has greatly benefited from these agencies, carefully screening and interviewing families to be sure that responsible and interested kids are attending each camp.
The benefit works both ways, Northwestern officials say, offering children the opportunity to participate in a university program and giving coaches the opportunity not only to teach children in the community about a specific sport, sportsmanship, teamwork and the like but also to encourage them to continue to participate in sports throughout their school years, and perhaps consider attending college after they graduate.
Since 2003, this program has gradually expanded, and this year coaches have offered 77 scholarships in 15 sports: men’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, football, fencing, women’s soccer, lacrosse, baseball, men’s and women’s swimming and field hockey. Northwestern says additional scholarships are available in baseball and women’s basketball.