Last September, Camp Casey Conference Center was host to an exciting experiment in education. Vicki Eveland, Director of MA-SSM and Assistant Professor of Marketing, utilized Camp Casey for a six-day instructional intensive that would take the place of an entire quarter’s worth of traditional campus class time.
Eveland had observed that students who travel abroad with faculty members are much more likely to develop long-lasting mentor relationships throughout college and beyond. Since not every student is able to travel abroad, Eveland thought it would be interesting to see if the bonding experience could be replicated just a few dozen miles from campus, at Camp Casey Conference Center. With support from SPU Provost, Jeff Van Duzer, Eveland received SPU SERVE grant funding for the experimental, intensive course, which was followed by mentoring and group work throughout the remainder of the quarter.
“The goal was to take advantage of the residential setting, to create a tight bonding between students and faculty and to experiment with other means and modes of teaching,” Van Duzer said. “We wanted to experiment with ways that we could teach as effectively, but more efficiently. That is, use up less faculty time for the same pedagogical outcome.”
“When a faculty member travelled abroad with a group of students, very often that formed a bond so that two years later that student still was dropping by the faculty member’s office,” Van Duzer said. “That was the kind of the bond we were looking for.”
Students were asked to come to school one week before the quarter started and attend the instructional intensive at Camp Casey. The rest of the quarter the students and faculty were free to schedule their own time, meeting occasionally to work on the quarterly project and check in. Essentially, the entire class has been completed in the first few weeks of the quarter, but the intense bonding time has given students a support system to draw from as they work on assignments.
“It really did work to build those tight bonds.” Van Duzer said. He believes the key to future success of the program is in gaining faculty support. The program needs faculty champions who want to bring more intensive instruction programs to Camp Casey. The coordination of classes and schedules will take some work, but Van Duzer is hopeful that faculty will see the value of Camp Casey and use the facility to its fullest potential.
“I think faculty can kind of get used to what they are used to, and it’s easier to do the same thing than to do a new thing. We are pushing really hard on the whole notion of innovation as not just a good thing, but almost a necessary thing,” he said.