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Jaguar Summer Day Camp returns after three-year hiatus

Jaguar Summer Day Camp Logo Jaguar Summer Day Camp returns in June, after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am excited for the return of camp, to have fun and to provide a really fun space for kids; I missed it,” camp coordinator Erica Hurt said.

Two camp options are offered: Jaguar Camp, a traditional camp experience of games, crafts and sports throughout the day, and Enrichment Camp, which features specialized programming.

“Enrichment program choices include martial arts, yoga, creative art, a music technology academy and a Lego camp through the organization Snapology,” said Katy Shreve, camp director and assistant director of the IU Natatorium.

Swim lessons at the Natatorium, a staple of the IUPUI summer camp experience, are provided to all campers. Educational and community guests will visit the camp, including local firefighters and Professor Steve’s Amazing World of Science. Kids will also venture off campus for field trips.

Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University“We’re so fortunate that our location is in walking distance to many attractions,” Shreve said. “We’re going to go to the Indianapolis Zoo, an Indians game at Victory Field and the Eiteljorg Museum. The counselors work in small groups, and it will be very safe.”

In between all that activity, children will have time to relax and wind down.

“We want them to run around and have fun, but we don’t want them to drop from exhaustion at the end of the day,” Shreve said. “So we balance physical activity with lower-energy activities, like songs and skits and little games.”

That also includes reading time, which is new this year and something Hurt, a second-grade teacher in Wayne Township, is passionate about providing.

“I see the kids’ joy and love for reading, and I know that doesn’t stop once they’re out of school,” she said. “I want to inspire the kids to keep reading, and show that even if we’re not in school, it’s a fun thing to do.

“It will also help them retain what they learn in the school year and help them be more successful for their next grade.”

The program needs donations to create a camp library for kids. Books can be dropped off at the Natatorium Pro Shop from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Questions can be emailed to

Camp leaders are also passionate about safety. All staffers must pass a background check and undergo safety and other educational training.

“All of them receive CPR and first-aid training,” Shreve said. “Even if they already have that training, they take it again through our camp, so I can ensure that they’re all taught the same way and on the same page.

“We’re also working with the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to provide inclusivity training, and a representative from Adaptive Educational Services is going to share behavior management techniques for working with children with ADHD and autism.”

Camp counselors are often IUPUI students. Hurt served as a counselor and supervisor for five summers, before graduating from IUPUI in 2020. She said the staff make Jaguar Summer Day Camp special.

“The counselors are definitely one of a kind, especially since a lot of them come from different countries and different backgrounds,” she said. “I know that some kiddos don’t have that exposure. Being able to come into that diverse space is really enriching and powerful.”

Registration is open to children ages 5 to 12. The weekly, Monday-through-Friday sessions run from June 5 to July 28. Before and after care is available beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. at no additional charge. IUPUI faculty, staff and students are eligible for a 10% discount.

“The location couldn’t be more convenient for employees and students,” Shreve said. “It’s also a great opportunity for any child to experience the campus.”

Tia Broz is a communications consultant in the Office of the Vice President for Communications and Marketing.