What do engineering students do in the summer. Internships, of course. But normally speaking most students are able to get an exciting internship in the summer after 3rd year. The number is much smaller after 2nd year, and most 1st year students waste their summers. IIT Gandhinagar debated if somehow life can be made exciting for students who either do not have a very exciting summer internship opportunity, or for whatever reason don't want a typical technical work that internship involves. And they came up with this idea of holding a summer camp on their campus. I will highlight a few points here. You could read all about it at the summer camp website.
The camp is of one month duration from 15th June to 15th July. It has a mix of activities. Being a technology institute, no activity can be complete without learning of some technology. So they have workshops on Autodesk and Lab-view. To encourage students to work on relevant problems and sensitize them to the problems in the society, there is a design challenge in the camp. This year, the students will spend time with blind people, and come up with better guidance system for them. Students will be able to learn a sport of their choice (as long as their choice is one of football, volleyball, basketball and table tennis). If they do really well, they can get into the IIT-GN team for the Inter-IIT Sports Meet in December 2011. There will be literary component too. They will be reading and discussing in detail the book, "Makers of Modern India" by the famous historian, Ramachandra Guha. And no camp can be an attractive option to the young generation, if it does not have a component of performing arts, particularly dance. So they learn the basics of theater and media editing, and get to learn Salsa dance as well.
It is really a very innovative program by IIT Gandhinagar to engage their students in the summer to make them complete human beings.
A suggestion from my side, since I know some of them will read this. Open this up for non-IIT students, primarily to diversify the experience of your students. Bring in some students from other disciplines, a few from law, a few from humanities, and may be a few from abroad who may want to experience India through such a program. You can charge these outside students some minimal amount to take care of your additional incremental costs.
And I hope other institutes start something like this. I receive more than 1000 emails every year asking for summer internship. If such summer programs become popular, this number may become more manageable and I am may actually start responding to such emails again.