KU summer camp participants provide a boost for the city and KU. Their number was up this year to the highest level since the mid-1980s.
The highest number of summer camp participants staying at Kansas University in a decade are providing a short-term economic boost to the city and a potential, long-term benefit to KU's reputation.
Nearly 10,000 elementary and secondary school students, high school graduates and college students called a KU residence hall home for a part of this summer, said Randy Timm, assistant director of student housing.
That's more than double the 4,240-student capacity of KU's residence halls.
But considering that some KU dorms are closed this summer, the figure is nearly three times the 3,500-person capacity of halls in the Daisy Hill area near 15th and Iowa, where summer camp participants exclusively are housed.
"Most people, because they're not involved with the university, think that those facilities and buildings just sit up there, dormant, all summer," said Judy Billings, director of the Lawrence Convention & Visitors Bureau. "That fact of the matter is they're booked -- they're booked all summer long."
Another 2,000 students stayed at Naismith Hall, a privately owned residence hall at 19th and Naismith, said Sandy Hill, general manager of the facility. The capacity of Naismith Hall is 450.
Summer guests took part in programs ranging from Roy Williams' basketball and Midwestern music camps to a science-fiction writers workshop.
They stayed a few days to a few weeks, depending on the length of each program.
"If a parent ... comes into town, drops their student off, they fill up their car probably at least once and have at least one meal," Timm said. "They probably do that again when they pick their student up.
"If each family is spending 20 bucks, that's a big impact," he said.
But there's more than a short-term economic boom.
"The university benefits because people come here and are exposed to our academic programs and campus and facilities," Jeannette Johnson, assistant to KU's executive vice chancellor, said.
"The institution and the community benefits whenever we attract someone who normally wouldn't be here," she said. "If we really do a good job, they take away a favorable impression. By word-of-mouth, it will encourage other people to come here."
Johnson said the number was up because participation in longtime annual events -- such as Midwestern music camps, which have been held at KU about 60 years -- were up as much 23 percent, and because of national events hosted by KU this year.
Those included 1,200 students and 250 teachers participating in the National Junior Classical League, a weeklong convention for Greek and Roman mythology and Latin buffs.