Titan Tattler: Summer traditions

Published 12:07 am Thursday, July 6, 2023

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By Claire Reinthaler

For the Clemmons Courier

Everyone has different summer traditions. For some, it might be going to the beach with family or a special vacation spot that they visit every year. My sister and I have a different sort of tradition that has become really special to me — visiting the colleges my parents attended.

At a glance, South Bend, Indiana, is just a town dropped right in the middle of the Michigan border, but if you know anything about college towns, you’ll know that it’s home to the University of Notre Dame, my dad’s alma mater. It also holds another school, which is less well known, the sister school to UND, Saint Mary’s College.

That is where my mom went to college. It’s a small, all-girls, liberal arts college across the street from Notre Dame. It’s also where my sister and I go for camp every year.

Yes, camp is a fairly typical summer activity, but this overnight camp is not your usual log cabin-type excursion. It’s more of a pre-college program where girls can experience something similar to college life while enjoying activities that they’re interested in.

My sister and I have been attending the summer programs here since I was a rising sixth grader, and she was going into fifth grade. Although the programs themselves have changed for us as we’ve gotten older, they’re no less enjoyable than when we first started six years ago.

The first three years I attended SMC’s summer programs (2017-2019), it was the fine arts camp, where students get to explore a variety of art forms, including two types of visual art, music, theatre, dance and creative writing. In 2019, along with fine arts, I was finally old enough to attend the forensic science camp, which starts with incoming eighth graders, where the program administrators stage a fake murder. Then, the students have to examine evidence, interview suspects and draw conclusions about who was responsible for the crime.

After skipping the program during the pandemic summers (2020-2021), I attended the forensic science program again, alongside being the inaugural class of the new dialogue and democracy camp for high schoolers. I truly fell in love with this program, in particular, because of the formative discussion we had about how to properly utilize rhetoric when talking about problems facing our country and world. The trips we took were truly fascinating, and I learned so much while still enjoying some of the fun summer activities associated with the camp, such as s’mores and hanging out with friends. I will be attending that program this summer as well.

My favorite part about these programs, though, is not even the topics they focus on but the comfort and security they’ve given me about taking the next step into college a year from now. For years now, I’ve learned what it’s like to live on a college campus and be in that environment, making it far less daunting to think about than it would have been for me otherwise.

It’s bittersweet that this will be the last year I qualify for these programs because I genuinely have the time of my life there every summer. But the exciting part is that next summer, instead of eagerly anticipating those one or two weeks, I’ll be looking forward to spending the next four years in a college environment that I’ve grown comfortable in because of the experience the SMC summer programs have given me.