Deep in the woods of West Virginia, on the first of July, I entered the realm of the National Youth Science Camp. I joined 116 other delegates from nearly every state and many countries around the globe. Over three-and-a-half weeks, we listened to lectures from some of the most renowned scientists in their fields, participated in directed studies that provided hands-on experience in everything from biodiversity to ink-jet printers, and enjoyed outdoor overnight adventures in wild and wonderful West Virginia and a three-day excursion to Washington D.C.
My time at NYSC was transformative, marked by once-in-a-lifetime experiences—like watching a concert in a cave, sharing a luncheon with members of the Senate, listening to two lectures a day from brilliant scientists, enjoying private presentations at the Museum of Crime and Punishment in D.C., and participating in our very own science panel discussion—all courtesy of the generosity of the National Youth Science Foundation and donors like you.
As truly remarkable as NYSC activities are, another element of the program that is equally extraordinary is the delegation itself. Being able to interact and live with over one hundred of the brightest young minds from across the country and around the world for nearly a month is an experience for which I am very grateful and I will never forget. Coming from a small agricultural town, I had never before been exposed to such a variety of disciplines or to so many people my age interested in science. At NYSC, I learned much from the other delegates, not only in areas of science, but also in sports, games, and the cultures of other nations. Granted, college will present a similar learning atmosphere, but I may never again enjoy the incredible diversity that I encountered at NYSC.
On the last night of camp, all delegates had the opportunity to reflect on the NYSC experience. Many shared their favorite memories from camp or just offered thanks to the National Youth Science Foundation, to the “Staph” (so named for their infectious enthusiasm), and to the other delegates. One delegate presented an analogy that each of us is a piece of the world, and in order to complete the puzzle, we have to come together and unite. Another delegate elaborated on this idea, saying we must each share pieces of ourselves in order to fully realize our potential. I believe my peers’ metaphor is apt, and I will strive to collaborate with others as I begin studying for my degree.
I am confident that I have been introduced to many of the leaders of tomorrow, and I am truly honored to have been a delegate among them. Thank you very much for making this amazing experience possible through your generous support of the National Youth Science Foundation.