camp uni

UNI will hold a two-week long free digital skills and storytelling camp about the heritage of black families in Northeast Iowa. Dates are July 25-Aug. 4. Registration is open. Contact to sign up. 

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa—The University of Northern Iowa will host a two-week Black Life Youth Camp in July and August for middle school-aged kids that will be geared towards preserving local Black history through digital storytelling and imaging skills.

BLYC is about uncovering hidden African American cultural resources in the Cedar Valley

and adding those resources to the Iowa African American Heritage Trail. In their research of Cedar Valley Black history, camp participants will learn how to research and document stories of local African American pioneers and historic places all in the Cedar Valley.

BLYC students will also investigate safe biking and walking routes in the City of Waterloo’s historic Black Neighborhood “Unity”. BLYC students will help design a neighborhood self-guided walking tour that allows neighborhood residents and others a chance to explore the neighborhood, get excercise, and enjoy the outdoors, said Co-Director Charles Pearson, who leads the Iowa African American Heritage Trail project.

In their investigation of local Black family histories, camp participants will learn how to professionally scan family photographs, create photomontages and digital animations using the family photos they scan, and go on site visits related to the family stories they learn. Students will also have opportunities to bike on UNI’s campus and Cedar Valley bike trails.

“The camp is as much about creativity and digital skills as it is about Black history,” Co-Director Joshua Mitchell said. Mitchell teaches Interactive Digital Studies classes at UNI. “We are going to have fun bringing it all together – getting kids to get passionate about local history, getting their creative juices flowing, and giving them an opportunity to learn more about digility.”

The camp’s all-Black staff is made up of UNI faculty and student counselors. The two-week day camp will meet July 25-29 and August 1-4, 2022, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on the UNI campus. The camp is free, with lunch and snacks provided as well. There is a maximum of 20 camp participants, with a first come, first serve registration. To apply, contact UNI professor of Interactive Digital Studies Bettina Fabos at

Chiquita Loveless, Director of UNI’s Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice, recalled a camp experience like this when she was a child and how it changed her life.

“We are going to do this right. It will be beneficial for the kids and community as they will have insight of where we have come from and why it is so important to be and do their best at all times” she said.

The camp is made free for students through the generous sponsorship of the Guernsey Foundation of Waterloo and the Center for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice at the University of Northern Iowa.