madson_brookeDear Contributor,

Several months ago, at the end of June, I was standing at the airport waiting to board a plane that would take me to West Virginia, more specifically a place called Camp Pocahontas, home of the National Youth Science Camp.  Now, not knowing many details about the camp I was a bit apprehensive,  I hoped I was adequately prepared,  I hoped I would learn more about science, and I prayed  I would have a decent  time.  I have been in my OCE (Out of Camp Experience) for almost a month now, and I wish I had the chance to tell that apprehensive girl at the airport several months ago one thing.  Ask for a one way ticket– you are about to have the experience of a lifetime.

Thank you for your support of NYSC and for making it possible for me, along with my fellow delegates from the United States–and from around the world, to experience a truly magical camp.

When I boarded my plane I had everything in my 60+ lbs. of luggage that was on our packing list. No list could have ever readied me though to encounter the fantastic reality of science camp.  We were met by Staph members who already knew our names and our prospective states.  They initiated what I found even more important than the science we were there for—the friendships.  Throughout my life, I was one of the few that loved to learn, and a minority in the few because I am passionate about science.  I love to apply myself, challenge myself, and succeed.  In my school this does not set you up for making close friends.  I was amazed at how at this camp everyone was accepted. No one cared if you got a point lower on your ACT, or the number of AP classes you took.  What mattered was me.  The friends I made at camp are ones that will last a lifetime.  They inspire me to be more and to do more.  And I know I can always count on them.

Like the name implies there is science at the NYSC—lots of it.  The lectures, directed studies, and field trips were mind boggling. The world of science that I now know is exponentially larger than before camp.  I want to be a doctor so I knew I would find lectures on medicine interesting.  Now though I am interested in the statistics behind keeping our atomic weapons safe,  I have renewed interest in space and our travels through it, when my flight was cancelled due to weather I understood the implications the weather would have on my flight,  and now I am gravitating towards finding physics fun.

When I flew in over the mountainous country in WV, I was excited by the prospect of exploring this new terrain with my fellow delegates.  What a better way to appreciate it, and appreciate all of nature, than being immersed in it?  I backpacked 11 miles, swam under a waterfall, white river kayaked, and I pulled myself up a rock.  Environmental science at its finest.

Words cannot express how thankful, how blessed, and how honored I am that I was able to attend NYSC.   It changed my life, and I know the experiences you gave us all will change the world.

Thank you,

Brooke Madson, SD 2011