UW-Whitewater works to keep summer camp athletes cool

Many students at camps staying in dorms without air conditioning

Nearly 10,000 elementary through high school students are expected to attend athletic camps at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater this summer, and camp leaders said most of those students will be staying in dorm rooms without air conditioning.

“It’s been pretty hot here this week,” said Simone Jensen, a high school student attending Tennis Camp at UW-Whitewater. “It’s been pretty humid, so we’ve had fans going a lot and extra breaks.”

UW-Whitewater said it’s stepping up its efforts to make sure athletes stay cool while at summer camp on campus.

“We’ve shortened sessions, taken some equipment off football players,” said Tracy Chynoweth, director of Continuing Education Services. “We’ve taken advantage of the air conditioned spaces on campus. If that means cancelling an activity session in the afternoon and taking kinds into an auditorium that’s air conditioned and doing some drill-type work, we’ve been doing that.”

Medical staff have treated about 20 students for heat-related illness. Chynoweth said that’s about the same number as last summer.

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“We had a pretty low occurrence of heat-related illness this summer,” Chynoweth said. “We’ve made no trips to any hospital or emergency room for heat-related illness.”

Off the court, camp leaders are working to keep the students hydrated with water stations near the dorms. Veteran camper Steven Blend, of Plymouth, said he came prepared.

“Me and my friend brought four fans along so it usually stays nice and cold. They also have ice for us too,” Blend said.

Most of the players said the can take a little heat to continue with an activity they love.

“I’ve been going to this camp for six years and it’s the best part of my summer,” Jensen said.

At the end of last year’s summer camp season, the university purchased 30 additional box fans to put in students’ dorm rooms. They also added air conditioning to some common areas. The residential summer camps are scheduled to wrap up mid August.