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March / April 2005

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Something different this summer

— by Marybeth Clemmer

Patrick Henry College students Ashley Trim, John Crutcher, Carmen Magana, and Raynel Burner have more in common than professors and classrooms. All of these students attended a Teen Leadership Camp at PHC during their high school years, and all of them say the experience sparked and refined their vision for their lives.

PHC teen campers visit many sites of historical interest, including the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

In the summer of 2001, Patrick Henry opened its doors for the first-ever Teen Leadership Camps, including Constitutional Law, Political Activism, and American History. For the college, this was another way to fulfill its mission of preparing "Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture." For students, Teen Camps provided an opportunity to investigate new fields of study and learn to apply a biblical worldview to issues they might face in those fields.

Jacob Parrish, who attended Journalism Camp in 2003 and 2004, says the experience awakened interest in a future career: "I was slightly interested in [journalism] before attending my first Journalism Camp in '03, but that camp sparked a deeper interest in me for journalism." He adds, "The knowledge that I gleaned from those two camps has helped me while I pursue journalism as a long-term vocation."

By focusing on leadership training, camps equip high school students with the understanding they need to make a difference in society. Michael Ruckman, a student who attended three camps last summer, says, "Teen Camps have shown me that there is an avenue that I can take to have an impact on the world . . . I would certainly come back."

Now, PHC is preparing for its fifth summer of Teen Camps, encouraged by the impact camps have had on the lives of high schoolers in the past. These are not your average summer camps. Classroom sessions cover a broad range of material related to the weektheme and are taught by Patrick Henry College faculty and other qualified individuals in the field. Campers get a taste of life at PHC as they interact with the counselors and staff, all of whom are Patrick Henry students. Campers are housed in the dorms, eat their meals in the dining hall, and attend chapel services throughout the week. Of course, there is also time for fun. Camp rec times build teamwork, and you never know what new trick the counselors have up their sleeves to make things more exciting!

Last summer's Intelligence and Foreign Policy Camp showcases the uniqueness of Teen Camps. Each student arrived at camp with a cover identity-a fake name, age, birth date, hometown, high school, and family. Throughout the week, they worked together to hunt down clues and collect information from informants during mission scenarios staged on the college campus and in the surrounding region. Along with putting their secret agent skills into practice, campers spent time in classroom sessions where they heard from Patrick Henry College professors and other members of the intelligence world. Campers also had the chance to visit the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., and other intelligence-related facilities in the greater D.C. area. At the end of the week when the vote was in, "spy camp" was declared an overwhelming success.

This year, PHC is planning seven weeks of camps-some old favorites and some brand new ones.

Secret agent man

The summer will start off with Strategic Intelligence Camp, similar to last year's Intelligence and Foreign Policy Camp. Classroom sessions will be taught by practitioners and others associated with "three-letter agencies," as terms like operations officers and field agents become part of the students' vocabulary. Working under an assumed identity, each camper will test his or her abilities to conceal and analyze information throughout the week's events. By the end of the week, campers will be more familiar with the challenges that face American intelligence officials and the vital role that intelligence plays in national security.

Can I quote you on that?

Journalism Camp, always a favorite, will be back again this summer. Directed by Dr. Les Sillars, Director of Journalism at PHC, this camp will allow students to experience the world of reporting, complete with press conferences and breaking news events. Every student will get to see his words in print as he works on one of several teams to produce an issue of a newspaper before the Friday evening deadline. In the classroom, lectures will cover subjects such as what makes a hard story hard and how to write a nut graf. Campers will meet with Christian journalists in the Washington, D.C., area and will take a field trip into the city to report on an assigned story.

At the 2004 Journalism Camp, aspiring reporters learned to cover breaking news under tight deadlines in the newsroom.

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court . . .

Constitutional Law Camp was the first Teen Camp ever offered, and PHC senior Ashley Trim was there for that week in 2001. She says, "ConLaw camp sold me on PHC as a real possibility for school, and that of course has had a tremendous impact on the direction of my life, as I did end up here as a student. It also birthed a real love for ConLaw that affected my studies my senior year of high school and my decision to participate on the moot court team here at PHC." This year's two-week Constitutional Law and Moot Court Camp will expand on the original camp to include training in moot court, a form of debate that simulates oral argument in the United States Supreme Court. During classroom sessions, campers will cover a full semester of high school constitutional law material. They will also receive instruction in moot court techniques from the camp's director, Michael Farris, and members of PHC's highly recognized moot court team. The two weeks will culminate in a moot court tournament, allowing campers to put their new skills into practice against other teams from camp.

Campaign promises

Teen Camps have always covered a broad range of topics, but each year at least one camp has focused on government or civic involvement. This summer, Generation Joshua Camp promises to be the same great experience it was last year. Campers will meet students from across the country who share their goal of impacting our nation through the political process, whether through volunteer work or a future job on Capitol Hill. Lectures and discussions will focus on issues relevant to all responsible citizens, including the Constitution's original intent and communicating a Christian worldview. Students will gain a perspective on American politics that they could not get from a high school textbook. As one of last summer's Generation Joshua campers said, "I was privileged to be under the teaching of so many influential and humble men who truly have a heart for God and this nation that He has so graciously spared. They spoke so many truths based on Scripture and caused me to see many things in a new light, especially when it comes to politics."

Resolved: That Debate Camp is great!

In today's society, it is vitally important for every citizen to know how to communicate and defend his beliefs. Because of its emphasis on reasoning and argumentation, formal debate is a good way to build these skills. Patrick Henry's Debate Camp allows both experienced and non-experienced debaters to build and hone their research, analysis, and speaking skills. This two-week camp will train students in the techniques of formal debate and prepare debaters to argue the 2005 National Christian Forensics and Communications Association topic. Students will have access to computer labs and will be able to conduct their research using PHC's online research resources, such as LexisNexisTM.

Friends, Romans, countrymen . . .

Each year, talented PHC professors make themselves available to direct camps. This summer, Dr. David Noe, PHC's Assistant Professor of Classics, will be teaching a camp on the classics-the foundational literature of the Western tradition. With his training in Greek and Latin, Dr. Noe will be able to give students a new perspective on works by Homer, Vergil, St. Augustine, and others. Lectures and classroom discussion will examine how Christians can benefit from studying the classics even though they were not written exclusively by or for believers. Short daily lessons in elementary Latin will encourage a stronger appreciation for classical literature and the artistry of these early authors.

To be or not to be . . .

This summer's final camp will be Drama Camp, taught by Patrick Henry student Chris Tuggle. Working with a cast and director to bring a production to life is a stretching experience, but for many homeschoolers, opportunities to participate in drama are difficult to find. Drama Camp will focus on acting's technical side (teaching students how to develop a character and work through a script) and practical side (trying it out onstage). Even if your child isn't planning to pursue an acting career, he will learn teamwork and build strong public speaking skills. At the end of the week, campers will perform before a live audience, putting their new skills to use.

Go for it!

So do you think your high schooler might be interested in a different kind of camp this summer? As former Teen Leadership camper Carmen Magana says, "Go for it! Attending a Teen Camp is an experience you won't regret. It's wonderful to be around so many young people who are eager to impact our nation for the Lord. Not only will you make awesome friends, you'll also learn about what you can do to influence America for Him. It will be an exciting week!"

Hope to see your student at camp this summer!

About the author

Homeschool graduate Marybeth Clemmer, a junior in public policy at PHC, is director of the 2005 Teen Leadership Camps.