If you happen upon Western Kentucky Universityï¿½s campus during the month of June, you might do a double take because you would see rising 7th through 9th graders with backpacks walking up the hill to class. You might wonder, ï¿½when did college kids get to be so young?ï¿½ These students are part of WKUï¿½s Center for Gifted Studies' Summer Camp for Academically Talented Students (SCATS), which gathers gifted students from all over the United States to study for two weeks while taking advantage of college-style living.
In 1983, The Center began fulfilling its mission by offering SCATS as a practicum for teachers working toward an endorsement in gifted education (an additional teacher certificate). 2009 marks its twenty-seventh year of providing challenge, stimulation, and opportunity to interact with other gifted and talented people.
Each student selects four classes from 30 to 35 options. Each class meets daily for an hour-and-a-half, emphasizing hands-on, minds-on activity related to the subject. Classes cover a variety of topics such as rocket science, foreign languages, art, leadership, mathematics, science, literature, social studies, and more. Most of the students live on campus in an air-conditioned residence hall, where they have a great deal of fun making new friends from all over the nation and different walks of life. (Campers can also be nonresidential.) Also, residential counselors provide supervision and plan activities for the evenings and weekends. Some of the activities include cookouts, dances, individual and team sports, arts and crafts, and a talent show.
One SCATS participant commented, ï¿½ At SCATS we learned we could be bright and fit in. To hide our talents and academic skills only serves to shortchange ourselves. Through SCATS, I learned that to do well in school should be celebrated, not hidden.ï¿½
SCATS gives students an opportunity to learn both inside and outside the classroom. Inside the classroom, they are having their minds challenged by excellent instructors as well as interesting topics, but outside the classroom, they are learning that socially and academically they should take pride in their scholastic success.
The camp has made quite an impression on its campers. A camper from Frankfort, commented: "What impressed me the most about the program was that, although there was a strong academic focus, there was also an opportunity for students to learn valuable life and social skills. Due to the expertise of the faculty and the counselors, I left the program with a greater understanding of both the subject matter and myself." And perhaps she sums the experience best with "my only regret is that there is not an academic year program offered." Whether it be students, teachers, or counselors, the outcome is a similar one. A Shelbyville, KY, student worded it well: "SCATS is an experience I intend to remember for a very long time."