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Colleges offer groups a summer space

June 18, 2002|by CAILIN MCGOUGH

cailinm@herald-mail.com

With most students not due back until fall, area colleges and universities are catering to a different crowd, offering to rent facilities to local and regional groups for camps and conferences this summer.

Kathy Lehman, director of conferences and special events at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa., said the college supplements its smaller summer session by renting out facilities to mainly nonprofit groups from mid-June to mid-August.

Over the summer, 25 groups will fill every available week, Lehman said. With a capacity of 300 to 400 people, the college gains $140,000 to $150,000 in revenue over the summer, Lehman said.

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For the second summer, the Tai Chi Foundation of Laurel, Md., will spend eight days at the college, Lehman said.

"It's really interesting to see them," Lehman said. "Sessions start at four in the morning and go until late at night. Some like to start early with exercising and meditating."

The college will host the International Diffuse Reflectants Conference during the final week of the summer. The weeklong event, held at Wilson every other year for 14 years, attracts scientists from Japan, Australia and Germany, Lehman said.

Many of the buildings at Frostburg State University are booked for the summer, said Dave Treber, director of conferences and events at the school in Frostburg, Md.

"We're juggling constantly to see what we can fit in," Treber said, adding that the university easily will reach goals of $250,000 in gross revenue from summer bookings.

The university, which advertises "Cool summer nights ... warm mountain hospitality," will rent its dormitories and other facilities to such groups as the Washington Metropolitan Area Chinese School, whose one-week program gives students of Chinese descent from the Washington, D.C., area a chance to explore Chinese culture through activities such as learning calligraphy.

The university also will house 560 youths ages 9 to 18 during each week of the Coach Wootten Basketball Camp, which runs for four weeks. Morgan Wootten is head basketball coach at DeMatha Catholic High School.

Shepherd College's classrooms and dormitories will be occupied by nine or 10 groups this summer, said Don Rohel, college center director and director of summer conferences at the school in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The Junior High Gateway Academy, a leadership development program for teenagers, will use facilities at the school, as will The Association for Research and Enlightenment of Virginia Beach, Va., which will host a three-day retreat at the college, Rohel said.

Many of Hood College's facilities, including an outdoor swimming pool, will be open for public use this summer, said Dave Diehl, spokesman for the Frederick, Md., college.

Fourteen weddings are scheduled on campus from May through August, Diehl said.

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Academic Advancement will hold two three-week sessions at Hood. More than 650 students and faculty members will use the school's classrooms and residence halls.

Diehl said renting facilities provides a way for the college to make money while giving the community access to the school.

"While we have empty space, we try to fill it when we can and make it useful to people who need to use it," he said.

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