Dear Contributor:

It is with great pleasure that I am able to write this letter to you with the opportunity of looking back at this summer with memories satiated with science, friendship, and an appreciation for the outdoors in the beautiful state of West Virginia.

As I reflect on my three and a half week experience at the National Youth Science Camp, I feel as if I have just eaten a great Thanksgiving dinner, and now am able to lean back in my chair and enjoy that wonderful feeling of fullness and satisfaction. I – along with all the delegates and Staph, constituting a family of over a hundred people – would like to thank you for having spent your time and effort to make this magical event and metaphorical meal possible for all of us.

My older brother attended the NYSC and so I dealt, despite my nagging, with four years of being left in the dark in terms of pictures he had taken and details on specific activities he simply would not reveal behind his knowing smile. When I arrived home from the airpoFt it was time for me to reciprocate that knowing smile, and share with him a truly unique experience in Camp Pocahontas.

Unity and bonding were major themes all throughout camp, as exposure to delegates from literally all around the country as well as international students built connections across cultural boundaries. This summer great insight was gained by everyone into the lives of people with similar passions of simply wanting to understand the world around them better so as to play a more significant role in helping it-whether that be through the field of medicine, physics, mathematics, chemistry, engineering, etc.

I had never really considered the NYSC logo prior to attending camp, even though I was exposed to it a number oftimes by way of seeing my brother’s attire bought there. Now, however, I have examined it to recognize the symbolism with which it is adorned. All of the different types of objects from varying specialties are shown, weaving and melding together into a circle around the more formal radio antenna and the state of West Virginia’s outline. With these different facets of life shown as a circle, the idea of a cycle occurred to me. As my brother had the privilege of attending so had I, and delegates have the opportunity to return as Staph. It was then that I realized that a cycle is what the NYSC experience should be, with a steady influx of new delegates every year going free of charge, to be welcomed and guided by experienced and enthusiastic Staph.

The energetic, monetary, and temporal championing which propels such a cycle has been provided by yourself, your peers, and your predecessors for the past forty-six years. Thus – along with a sincere thank you on my part for making such an experience possible for me this year – I would like to fervently encourage you to continue making such a spectacular summer possible for the posterity of graduated high school seniors from throughout the nation and parts of the world.

This summer I was taken to a world in partial seclusion, with an air fresh and unfettered by cell phone service or FM waves. Rather than being left with silence in the absence of these technologies, a far more beautiful idea awakened in the cool morning dew resting on the grass and rhododendrons ofa West Virginia mountain, refreshing all who came in contact with it. This idea consisted of real conversations, ones punctuated by laughter and laced with thoughtful pauses; an idea made of overnight camping trips, of night skies whose magnificence is unconstrained by light pollution, of enjoying each day individually and not knowing yet being excited for what is planned for tomorrow; an idea composed of educative and stimulating professional lectures, directed study blocks, and delegate or Staph-directed seminars; and most importantly, the idea that there is magic in the Monongahela National Forest from which are conceived long lasting memories and friendships. The National Youth Science Camp is this idea, and so much more.

I wish I could attend the NYSC for the first time again. Considering this realm of reality, however, my real wish is to see other future students embark on some of the best twenty-five days of their lives as of yet, and probably well on into their future. I couple this wish with another clause directed towards you: Thank you very much, and keep up the good work.


Rodolfo Villarreal-Calderon, 2010 NYSC – Montana