Jesse Horstman from Beresford High School takes part in a physics demonstration with Dr. Dan Durben while attending a Rising Scholars program at Black Hills State University this summer. These high school students were among the 4,500 people who attended workshops and camps on the BHSU campus this fall. BHSU has seen a 63 percent increase in the number of attendees at summer camps and workshops on campus.

More than 4,500 visitors between the ages of 7 and 70 were on the campus of Black Hills State University this summer to participate in camps and workshops.

During the summer months, BHSU takes on a different atmosphere as many of the university students leave for summer employment and internships and the campus is filled with groups visiting from across the state, region, and nation. Increasingly groups from across the state and nation are looking to BHSU when they plan summer events.

BHSU hosts more than 35 overnight groups throughout the summer. The number of visitors has been increasing steadily according to Dr. Mike Isaacson, dean of students and residence life, who oversees the camps and conferences at BHSU. This year the university hosted 2,500 overnight guests an increase of 63 percent from five years ago.

“Hosting groups on the BHSU campus is a way to showcase our beautiful campus. The visitors also create a positive economic impact on the Spearfish area and entire region,” Dr. Lois Flagstad, vice president of student life, says. “BHSU, situated here in the Northern Hills, is the perfect place for teachers, students, and business people to gather for their events.”
Flagstad notes that camp participants and their families often schedule extra days to tour the Spearfish region and outlying area. Many others schedule a return visit with their entire family after their initial exposure to the Northern Hills area.
BHSU uses the visits as an opportunity to showcase its programs and encourage students to consider BHSU for their higher education plans while also promoting the entire Northern Hills region.

Isaacson says that all conferences and events compliment the educational, research, recruitment or service to the community objectives as defined in the university mission.
“Groups choose the BHSU campus because we are able to draw from many resources to provide a high-quality service package. Often times, city, county, state, or private resources are presented too as part of this service package. It is quite rewarding to be part of this win-win venture,” Isaacson says.
BHSU hosts a wide range of education-based conferences and sport camps for universities, high schools, civic or charitable organizations, government agencies, tribal and state agencies, non-profit organizations, as well as private-sector entities to promote life-long learning.

This summer, BHSU hosted students who participated in an opera program, athletes in sport camps, high school students who excel in science and math, and a week-long gathering of more than 380 teenagers for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Other visitors included participants for a banking conference the annual Youth Business Adventure.

In addition, BHSU is becoming known throughout the geological university communities as the place to be for field studies. Groups from a number of universities including Kent State University, Northern Illinois University and Western Kentucky University stayed at BHSU this summer. Geologists from these groups note that the Black Hills present an unrivaled opportunity for geologic studies. The visiting geologists often refer to the Black Hills area as an island in the Plains due to the diverse variety of rocks, geological structures, geomorphic features and mineral deposits all within a relatively short distance

BHSU also hosts several groups of elementary, middle school and high school teachers throughout the summer.