UTRGV Chess Summer Camp provides fun and learning for area children

BY J. Edward Moreno

Nathan John, 7, rising second-grader at Canterbury Elementary in Edinburg and grandmaster in the making, is perfecting his game this summer at UTRGV’s Chess Summer Camp.

“I first started playing when I was 5 years old,” said Nathan, who already has competed in national chess tournaments.

Asked about his experience at the camp, Nathan replied with enthusiasm as he put his campmate in check: “It’s so much fun!” he said.

Throughout June, the UTRGV Chess Club has been hosting its Chess Summer camp sessions on the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses. Children attending the sessions improve their chess game while learning important logic and critical thinking skills. This is the first year the camp has been offered in Edinburg.

Derek Duron, 20, an electrical engineering junior and ambassador of the Chess Club, said they see significant improvement in how the children play over the course of the weeklong camp.

“Some kids come in not even knowing how to play chess, and by the end they’re pretty much at the same level as the other kids,” Duron said.

Some are so into the chess camp they sign up for several sessions.

Melissa Vasquez, mother of one of the campers, said her daughter enjoyed it so much, she signed her up for another week.

“She has learned new chess skills and strategies that will help her next school year, since she plans to try out for the chess team at her elementary school,” Vasquez said. “She enjoyed the UTRGV camp so much her first week that we had to sign her up for another week; she said she wasn’t done learning.”

Some of the kids have even gotten good enough to beat chess rivals very close to home.

Sarah Espinosa, 9, a fourth-grader at Our Lady of Sorrows School in McAllen, proudly says the camp has given her the skills to beat her most rivalled competitor.

“I can beat my dad now,” she said.

The UTRGV Chess Summer Camp is open to children ages 6-16 and offers both half days, from 8:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., and full days, from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. in Edinburg. The camp is offered in the evenings in Brownsville from 4:45-8:15 p.m.

For more information, contact David Ortiz at david.ortiz02@utrgv.edu.