“The National Youth Science Camp taught me to live in the moment in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. I truly believe that I found my people at camp,” said Veda Dayananda, North Carolina delegate, about her 3.5 week experience.

On Wed. July 12 the NYSCamp said goodbye to 93 delegates from 44 states, Washington D.C., and 9 countries. The delegation benefited from the expertise of over 60 presenters and undertook outdoor adventures including hiking, caving, backpacking, and mountain biking.  

The first hybrid experience in the STEAM program’s 60-year history, the delegation had five days of virtual seminars and lectures before traveling to Camp Pocahontas in Bartow, West Virginia. 

“Waking up at camp means having absolutely no clue what will happen today. Clowns? Time travel? Giant sloth invasion? Who knows! All you can do is put your hiking boots on and jump in. That is the “magic of camp” that everyone talks about – and it really does feel magical,” said Wisconsin delegate Aislee Tennyson. “Every day at camp was an adventure the likes of which are so ridiculous and awe inspiring that I refuse to tell my peers about it in hopes that they will sign up and see it for themselves. I will treasure that feeling of being truly in the moment forever.”

The camp’s in-the-moment focus was enhanced by a trip to the Green Bank National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a concert in the Sinks of Gandy, and a meet-up with 70+ alumni in celebration of the camp’s 60th anniversary. The experience concluded with three days in Washington D.C. and a motivating talk with West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito.  

Among the world-class professionals presenting lectures and seminars at camp were:

  • Julie Robinson, Ph.D., NASA’s Deputy Director for Earth Science 
  • Dr. D. Holmes Morton, Central Pennsylvania Clinic Founder and Medical Director and recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism, and one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of Medicine”
  • Sydnee McElroy, M.D., a Marshall Health Family Physician and co-host of the 300+ episode medical misadventure podcast “Sawbones” 
  • Daniel Cohan, author and Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University
  • Rachel Cooke, Vice President of Impact at 1Community, an social impact-focused entertainment production and financing company
  • David Hackleman, Ph.D., 1969 Oregon delegate and co-inventor of HP inkjet printer ink

“The Staph (purposely misspelled to denote their infectious enthusiasm), the presenters, and the incredible like-motivated delegates made it the best 3.5 weeks that I could have imagined,” said Dayananda. “I had the opportunity to immerse myself in so many different fields of science with some of the brightest minds. I stepped out of my comfort zone too many times to count, and each time I learned something new about myself. I survived my first hike, sang songs around a campfire for the first time, watched my first concert in a cave, and made so many more fond memories with people that I am proud to call friends.”

“I was so thrilled to bring the magic of the NYSCamp back to the mountains of West Virginia this summer,” said NYSCamp Director, Brian Kinghorn, Ph.D. “Our delegates had amazing experiences and I’m so happy we were able to bring them here this summer. I look forward to seeing how camp will give them a head start on changing the world for good.”

Since its inception, the NYSCamp has honored over 6,300 students, giving them the opportunity to participate in a rigorous STEAM enrichment program. Operated by the National Youth Science Academy, its mission is to inspire lifelong engagement and ethical leadership in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and the arts through its proven educational model for mentoring, challenging, and motivating students.