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Basketball and Robotics Kick Off Saint Leo’s Summer Camp Offerings for 2024

During the first week of summer camps, area youth had the opportunity to stretch their bodies and minds through activities, skill drills, challenges, and more.

Tags: Academics Athletics Basketball College of Computing Artificial Intelligence Robotics and Data Science Community Core Values Mind body and spirit Practical Learning Recreation Robotics STEM Summer Camps University Campus Bachelor of science in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
12 June 2024 - By University Communications

Summer camps offer opportunities for children and teens to grow their skills, build friendships, learn to work independently and as a team, and maybe most importantly, have fun. Saint Leo University is in the midst of offering its summer camps, and the programs kicked off with offerings in academics and athletics with robotics and basketball during the week of June 3. Camps will be held at Saint Leo through August 1. Find out more at


For interim men’s basketball coach Spencer Henke, his program’s camps offer not only time for youngsters to practice their basketball skills and get some exercise, but also a chance to experience the university. 

“Camps are a great way to show the community how special Saint Leo is and what our program is all about,” Henke said. 

They dribbled, they passed, and they learned to shoot a buzzer-beater during the first week of co-ed basketball camp geared for students ages 6 to 18. The boys and girls cheered for each other — and even talked a little bit of smack, but it was all in fun as they took to the court in the Marion Bowman Activities Center. Assisting Henke with the camp were Kevin Miller, Logan Ryan, Roy Paz, Dylan Murphy, Trey Murray, Tevin Kirkland, and Shawn Brown. 


The men’s basketball program then hosted its team camp June 7-10, giving varsity and junior varsity teams the opportunity to play and build skills. Saint Leo welcomed 29 teams to campus for two days, Henke said, with more than 800 people each day. The goal of the teams’ camp was to welcome teams from across Florida and give them the chance to play other teams of equal level that they usually do not get to compete against. 

Henke and the men’s basketball program will next hold a co-ed basketball day camp for ages 6 to 18, July 29 through August 1. 


The Future is Now

The world of robotics is exciting, fast-paced, and innovative, and for nearly 10 years, Saint Leo has hosted robotics camps led by Dr. Monika Kiss, chair of the Mathematics Department in the university’s College of Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Data Science (CARDS). Kiss earned her EV3 instructor certification from Carnegie Melon Robotics Academy in 2015.


From June 3 to June 7, area high school students not only built robots, but they also made them come to life through programming. The goal for the camp was to create an atmosphere for students to embrace innovation and to spark a lifelong passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), Kiss said. While making robotics open to the community, the campers also are exposed to the university, which offers a Bachelor of Science in robotics and artificial intelligence.

“I think some high schools are doing a great job and incorporating robotics into the curriculum,” she said. “But not every school has the financial means to offer it. Saint Leo’s camps are providing important, additional learning opportunities for the local area.”

While Logan Carbonaro attends a school, Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation in Wesley Chapel, FL, that does offer many technical programs including engineering-applied robotics, he finds that Saint Leo’s robotics camp builds upon what he is learning in school. Carbonaro is a repeat Saint Leo robotics camp attendee. “I really like the programming,” he said. 


Kiss, assisted by Katrina Weicht, instructor of computer information systems at Saint Leo, put the campers through their paces while they explored coding and problem-solving through hands-on projects and challenges. 

“The students are stretching their imaginations,” Kiss said. “They are using their imaginations in ways they probably never have before.” 


For this next generation of innovators, the camp offered great opportunities. “We are learning a lot,” said Liev Vapner, who attended Hillel Academy and will attend Alonso High School in Tampa in the fall. “The whole field is completely everything; it’s being used in so many ways. It’s really important to learn about robotics.” 


As they built and programmed robots in a classroom in the Tapia College of Business building, the campers made their robots follow their commands. Austin Taylor, a Cypress Creek student and also a repeat camper, earned a coveted high five from Kiss after completing one of the commands.  

Aras Demirok was a first-time camper, and he will be a senior at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel in the fall. “I wanted to attend this camp to build robots with Legos and code,” Demirok said. “This definitely will come in handy.”  He hopes to translate his love of building things and coding to a career in mechanical engineering and coding. 

For Sebastian Philipson, a Kirkland Ranch student, learning the Python programming language was the draw for the camp. “It’s definitely interesting,” Philipson said. And he also hopes to have a career that involves coding. 

During their last day of camp, the participants explored the Saint Leo University Robotics Lab in Kirk Hall and enjoyed working with the NAO programmable robots. The hands-on learning is a great experience for the students, Kiss said, “It allows students to try things out and learn from all their experiences.”

Openings Available at Summer Camps

Some Saint Leo summer camps still have spots available for youth looking to participate. Camps include: 

Volleyball Youth Camp – ages 7 to 18
June 24 – 27 Morning, afternoon, and both sessions available

Girls Acrobatics & Tumbling Clinic – ages 4 to 12
June 29

Co-Ed Youth Baseball Camp – ages 6 to 13
July 8 – 10

Co-Ed Lions Swim School (Session 2)
July 8 – August 1

Co-Ed Little Lions Recreation Camp (Week 2) – ages 5 to 13
July 22 – 25

Co-Ed Basketball Day Camp (Week 2) – ages 6 to 18
July 29 – August 1 Morning, afternoon, and both sessions available

Girls Volleyball Skills Camp – ages 13 to 18
July 29 – August 1

Academic Camps

Co-Ed Lions Den STEM Camp – ages 12 to 17
July 8 – 12

Full details about the camps can be found at Click on the icon for the camp and then go to “Shop” to see details and to enroll. 

Saint Leo University’s campus is at 33701 County Road 52, St. Leo, FL 33574. Camps will take place on campus including at the university’s Wellness Center pool. 

For more information, contact Carrie Fidurko at