The Center for Gifted Education hosted its fourth annual residential summer program for high ability, low income students. The program, known as Camp Launch, has provided services for eligible 7th and 8th grade students from neighboring school districts. From 2014, Camp Launch invited rising 9th grade students as teaching assistants. Interested former campers had to apply and submit essays to land a slot. This year, Camp Launch had 12 rising 9th grade students as junior teaching assistants. This July, from July 19 to August 1, total of 73 children attended. They took classes on campus, stayed in William & Mary residential halls, at no cost to their families. Video
During the day, campers have a rigorous academic schedule starting with three hours of STEM courses, including Legos robotics, engineering, nanotechnology and the center’s award-winning Acid, Acid Everywhere curriculum, which allows students to explore systems interactions through the scenario of a hazmat spill.
Another three hours of writing and personal development courses follow, during which educators help the children envision themselves at university and in future careers.
Camp Launch is trying to foster future mindset. Dr. Cross, Executive Director at the Center for Gifted Education, said, “Camp Launch is about preparing for the future and learning about what is involved to make things happen. Good intentions and hard work are not enough to have a successful career. Camp Launch provides the experiences and opportunities necessary to learn information that for children in affluent families is often tacit knowledge.” In class, the students explore potential career paths and talk out what they need to do to reach their goals. On Saturday, they attended a half-day conference called “Focusing on the Future,” to which their families are also invited. On Sunday, they visited the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in Virginia Beach.
The camp closes the day with a half-hour counseling session, during which campers discuss their day and any issues that arose, and write in their journals.
The funding came by way of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which has provided $250,000 annually for Camp Launch for four years. In addition, William & Mary alumni, Mike and Nancy Petters, through the Petters Family Foundation provided financial support to the program this year. “This year represents a pivotal time for Camp Launch as the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation changed its priorities and has stopped funding programs for high ability of this type. The Petters Family Foundation stepped in and helped us make this transition. We hope to continue Camp Launch for many years to come by obtaining consistent long term funding,” Dr. Cross said. More
Camp Launch is the beginning of the Center for Gifted Education’s goal to bring educational equality to all gifted students.