Each year, 24 seventh and eighth graders explore the world of law and get a taste of college life at a five-day residential Summer Law Camp on the UNM campus.
Participants take classes at the UNM Law School, where they develop skills in research, critical thinking, team-building, leadership, persuasion and debate. At the end of the camp, they put their new skills into action with a mock trial.
Participants also witness New Mexico’s legal system in action; they meet with judges and practicing attorneys, and visit both the Federal and State District Courthouses.
Brian Colón (’01), attorney at Robles, Rael & Anaya, P.C., founded Summer Law Camp with Fred Perez, former director of UNM Recreational Services, and Aleli Colón, teacher at Van Buren Middle School, in 2002.
Colón says he has talked to many participants over the years who never thought they could go to college.
“Today, those same students are proud to say they are college graduates,” says Colón. “In the past fifteen years, we have seen the lives of students from all over New Mexico changed for the better. The program embraces gender, geographic and economic diversity, and it provides a rich and effective learning environment.”
Summer Law Camp is free for attendees. The cost of room and board, food, classes, camp activities, and camp transportation is covered each year by funding primarily from the University of New Mexico College Prep Programs (UNM-CPP), the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association (NMHBA), Engaging Latino Communities for Education (ENLACE), and the New Mexico Young Lawyers Division (NMYLD).
“I am thankful to the organizations that have stepped up to institutionalize its existence and made a deep commitment to having a positive impact on our youth,” says Colón.