Walking around the UCLA campus this week, you can feel it all around you. There are no live musical acts performing in Bruin Plaza. The sea of students making their way to class has disappeared and not a single flier is being handed out on Bruin Walk.

It’s summer. Time to take a breath. 

Although the pace has slowed, don’t think for a moment that the campus has gone into sleepy hibernation. Summer learners, conference goers and day campers have started to descend on UCLA. Day-camp kids have already enjoyed two full weeks of fun in more than 20 programs offered by UCLA Recreation; 3,000 camp enrollments have been booked for the season by roughly 1,100 families. Later this month, the first of 9,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students will start the summer-long orientation process, with new arrivals each week until September.

Kids attending camp take a break in Pauley Pavilion.
Christelle Snow/UCLA
Kids attending camp take a break in Pauley Pavilion.

Today marks the beginning of the conference and residential camp season, as the first groups start to arrive and check in to residence halls on the Hill. Over the next 100 or so days, UCLA will host more than 200 groups, ranging in size from 10 to 4,000 people. Among them are the Summer Discovery program, which starts today and runs until August 1; this weekend’s California All-Star Cheer Camp; the Genetic Society of America’s biennial scientific symposium later this month; and the California Teachers Association annual conference in early August.

The largest delegation will be about 3,500 athletes and coaches who will inhabit a veritable village on the Hill during the Special Olympics World Games from July 25 to August 2. The culmination of four years of planning, some of the games’ biggest events will be played out at UCLA’s soccer, tennis and other facilities. Welcoming the athletes and spectators will be hundreds of UCLA volunteers. The annual visit of European soccer power Real Madrid will not take place this summer.

UCLA runs the largest conference program of all the 10 UC campuses, said Samantha Chan, director of conferences, catering and marketing in UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services. This summer’s conference season is projected to earn $24 million in revenue, money that’s redirected back into housing operations as a way to keep housing costs down for UCLA students.

“We host a myriad of groups, from adult conferences that center around education, certifications and scientific symposiums to youth camps that host specific interests such as sports, leadership and performing arts,” said Chan.

The Hill will also be a home-away-from-home for international visitors who enroll in UCLA Extension’s English language programs, as well as students who come for UCLA Summer Sessions'  residential pre-college summer institutes, she said.

More than 17,000 undergraduates, graduate students, professionals and high school students — domestic and international — are enrolled in more than 1,000 UCLA-credited courses and programs this summer. Some of the most-enrolled courses are in chemistry, economics and psychology, said Jisoo Kim, associate director of summer sessions. Classes in celebrity, fame and social media; Japanese anime; and slavery and human trafficking are also among this quarter’s offerings.

“There’s a different atmosphere on campus in the summer,” said Kim. “There aren’t 40,000 students on campus, so things are much more relaxed. The class sizes can be smaller too. Students enjoy taking classes during the summer for various reasons. Many say they met their best friends during the summer because they had the time to get to know their peers.”

More high school students are also seen walking the campus. Their numbers, now nearly 1,000, continue to rise with the popularity of the pre-college summer institutes that Summer Sessions hosts. There are waitlists for some of the most sought-after programs, including art, mock trials, Model United Nations, design media arts and nanoscience lab.

Christelle Snow
Summer at UCLA is a busy time for renewal and repair of university buildings

“Parents want to give their children a head start, but especially in programs designed to offer summer studies at the college level for high school students,” said Kim. For example, she said, “For high school students to have access to equipment in the California NanoSystems Institute— that’s a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.”

Many parents are also eager to have their children experience dorm living while at UCLA. “Even local parents prefer the residential option so their students can get the full college experience of living in a dorm,” Kim said.

Summer classes are popular for UCLA undergraduates as well because the students are able to concentrate on one or two classes without the pressure of a full course load. “Students can manage their workload better during the summer,” Kim said.  And they take the opportunity to explore subjects that are outside of their major field of study, as well as to expedite graduation.

With fewer students around, summer is also the perfect time for facilities management workers to tackle upkeep. Eleven classrooms in Dodd Hall are being completely renovated. Schoenberg Hall’s lobby is getting a new floor and the first-floor restrooms are getting upgraded. The campus Inverted Fountain will go dry for a summer tune-up, and DeNeve Drive will be repaved, along with other road construction projects.

On the Hill, the Hilltop Shop will be closed for renovation. In its place, Bruin Café will serve temporarily as the shop. In addition, Saxon Suites remains closed for renovation.  

“It may look quieter, but taking a bird’s eye view, the place will be jumping," Chan said.