Summer program quenches curiosity of audiences of all ages

One-day-long camps’ topics range from wine to Islam.

The University of MinnesotaâÄôs College of Continuing Education (CCE) is offering one-day-long âÄúfield tripsâÄù for adults that take place throughout the Twin Cities area, beginning June 18 . The Curiosity Camps are an annual summer event at the University, but CCE Compleat Scholar and Curiosity Camp Program Director Lara Roy said that about 80 percent of the programs each year cover new topics. Ann Pflaum has worked at the University in various positions since 1976 and is now a University historian. Pflaum said she saw a brochure for the Curiosity Camp program on campus last summer and attended a camp on St. Paul architecture, led by architectural historian Paul Clifford Larson . âÄúI absolutely loved it,âÄù Pflaum said of the camp. As a historian, she said the program, consisting of a morning lecture and a tour of St. PaulâÄôs architectural landmarks, was âÄúan extremely well-done experience.âÄù Later that summer, Pflaum took her husband on a similar tour to show him the sites about which she had learned at the camp. This year, Pflaum will return to Curiosity Camp for a tour of Northeast Minneapolis, focusing on the connections between architecture, culture and religion. Brenda Kayzar will be an instructor at this camp, which is officially titled âÄúNortheast Minneapolis: A Skyline of Steeples and Spires.âÄù Kayzar, an assistant professor in geography at the University, just finished her second year of teaching. She said the CCEâÄôs program directors approached her to do the camp because she had already been working on a project mapping the regionâÄôs religious institutions. âÄúEven though the actual buildings are somewhat static âĦ the use changes over time with the changing demographics of the neighborhood,âÄù Kayzar said, explaining one of the focuses of the program. As is the case with all the camps, the Northeast Minneapolis field trip will take approximately the time a normal school day would. Roy said this full-day complete immersion improves the overall experience. Kayzar said her program will begin with a lecture and end with a part-walking, part-bus tour of about 20 of the 54 religious institutions in the region. âÄúI really want to be able to show the diversity of the different ethnic groups that were represented by the different churches,âÄù said Kayzar. Erin George, an assistant archivist at the University, is enrolled for a program about the culture of Florence. She said she signed up because she has attended previous CCE Personal Enrichment programs , such as Compleat Scholar, a program similar to the Curiosity Camps that runs during the school year ; and she is planning a trip to Italy. âÄúBased on my great experience with Compleat Scholar âĦ I knew [the Curiosity Camps] would be of high quality,âÄù George said. One camp, titled âÄúA Geology Tour of the Twin Cities,âÄù has been a recurring camp since 2007. The camp is led by Jim Miller, an associate professor of geology at the UniversityâÄôs Duluth campus , and entails a tour of Twin CitiesâÄô geology through a geologistâÄôs eyes. âÄúPeople have a natural curiosity about their natural world,âÄù Miller said. âÄúHaving a little bit of insight into that is a powerful thing and exciting to people.âÄù Miller said that attendees of his camp vary in age and background. Roy said this is the case for other camps as well. Roy said that of the camps she has seen, there have been work colleagues, spouses and parents with their children in attendance. There is a minimum number of attendees that must be signed up for each event for it to carry on, Roy said. The program is financially self-sufficient, with the exception of staff salary and marketing expenses, which come from CCE. Other topics covered by Curiosity Camps, which are on 13 various weekdays through Aug. 5, are Twin CitiesâÄô art glass, the culture of ancient Egypt and Minnesota vineyards. Roy said she and the other organizers aim to make sure all the programs are both timely âÄî whether it be current research or currently in the news âÄî and that the programs have a connection with the University.