Through the eyes of a “typical” young teenager, a two-week educational camp may not seem very appealing. However, to me, it was way more than “just a camp.” At a very young age, my parents instilled in me the importance of education and making the most out of every opportunity. As I grow up, all of the teachings from my early childhood register in my mind constantly whenever I participate in activities- whether they be sports, extracurricular lessons, education, church, or anything in between.
Since my first year at UALR’s Summer Laureate University For Youth (SLUFY), I gained a better understanding of the importance of tapping into your critical thinking skills, surrounding yourself with other highly motivated individuals, and most importantly, being a strong leader.
I have had an exceptional experience at SLUFY this year! I learned a lot from my teachers and peers, and met many new people. Overall, this camp aided me in discovering my true individuality.
Every summer, I have two main objectives: have fun and engage in constructive activities. SLUFY meets both of those goals. Each year I see familiar faces and meet new ones, which in turn translate into lasting friendships. SLUFY is so much more than a social gathering – every course that I have taken has provided me with profitable information for school, other camps, and my everyday interactions.
This year, my home base class was Elbow, a persuasive communication course taught by Ms. Tonda Powell. My discovery course, taught by Mrs. Sandra Leiterman, was called Switch, which focuses on engineering techniques and design.
While at the camp, I decided to run for president on the SLUFY student council. Going into the campaign, I was not concerned about winning or losing; it was all about the experience. Although I thoroughly enjoyed campaigning, I was blown away when voted president (when the results were revealed to me, that was the only time that I did not realize that my name is “Jessica Nunn”). It was a humbling experience and it is an honor to hold that position.
This has been my favorite year of camp in the three years I’ve been attending. The classes I participated in were exactly what I wanted, and I had two impeccable teachers. They were very engaging, organized entertaining classroom activities, and presented challenging exercises. One of my favorite moments from camp was my home base class trip to the KATV Channel 7 newsroom. That same day, we also went to see how newspapers are constructed at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. There, we received a full tour, and were able to see the next day’s news story. My favorite parts of Switch (engineering) were the design challenges that we constructed. We were assembled into random groups and had limited time and resources to compose a finished product that met its set criteria. Another thing I enjoyed in Switch was creating a trebuchet prototype.
SLUFY is a great program because it shows both local and out-of-state students what Arkansas has to offer. One of my best friendships that originated from camp was with a girl from Texas, and she was absolutely fascinated with Arkansas – Little Rock in particular. As a result of most of the field trips being local, area businesses are spotlighted, and in turn, display all that the state of Arkansas has to offer career-wise. Who knows? What starts out as a field trip to a local business can transform into a job prospect in the long run.
SLUFY is not your average camp; it is so much more. As there are not many Summer Laureate programs across the United States, I feel privileged and honored to be a part of this camp. I only have one regret with regards to this program- I only wish that I had started it much sooner than my sixth grade year. SLUFY is a great camp where you make lasting friendships, meet amazing teachers, and are exposed to wonderful opportunities.
It’s the kind of experience you won’t want to miss out on!