domke_liaWhen I was asked to present a speech to the National Youth Science Camp 2011 my initial reaction was no, not now or never. But I thought about it for a second I realized, what is one of the huge emphasizes of National Youth Science Camp?—to try new things and challenge yourself. So I said yes. So here I am giving my first speech; words have never been my strong suit so bear with me. Who knows at the end of this I might want to be a communications major.

A few days ago in D.C. we heard a presentation about Omar Ahmad. And at the beginning I wondered why are we hearing about Omar, I don’t know this person, but then I realized I did. The more they talked about him the more I realized I knew him. I knew him because of the bonds that he made to other people in the National Youth Science Camp when he was here as a delegate and that I had made those same bonds. He also knew he had a home in the West Virginian mountains in a small camp called camp Pocahontas and I feel that way as well. He had the same drives and goals as we do, with slight variation from person to person. He helped inspire me to continue to seize opportunities and take advantage of them. Camp didn’t end for him when he left. He stayed involved with NYSC and stayed in touch with all his friends. So camp doesn’t end for us. We just need to stay in touch with our friends remember everything we learned here and all the experiences we’ve had here. So think about it for a second, what’s your favorite memory from camp? What just blew your mind? Was it a seminar or an outdoor trip or a lecture?

I have a soccer coach and he says that what you get out of practice is what you put in. I feel like this camp is the same thing. We got out of this camp what we put into it. So I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you guys for making this camp a wonderful experience.

I can’t believe that last December I had never heard of National Youth Science Camp. I applied on a whim and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But after less than a month I went from not knowing anything about this camp to having it suddenly be one of the most important things I’ve done. How does that happen? It happened because of the tight knit loving community we created here. And because of our community I’m not as nervous about standing up here in front of you guys and giving a speech. I know that all of you are my peers and we created this community together and I shouldn’t have to be nervous.

So finally I would like to share some profound thoughts that I got from fellow campers. From Soham Roy: “If we take away anything from this its that the world is much bigger than we ever thought and it needs us now more than ever.”

From Leah Rogstad: “I feel like a more open person because of the people here.”

From Lloyd Zhao: “I believe that this camp has taught me that the most important thing is not being the smartest or even the most talented it is about having the courage to challenge yourself to aspire to those ideas which seem to be impossible and be okay with failing.”