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Teen Leadership Camps at PHC Poised to Launch

June 7th, 2012

By Sarah Pride and Chelsea Rankin.

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Campers on field trip to D.C.

When camp counselor Megan Conlon met the girls in her hall during last summer’s Teen Leadership Camps at PHC, she was concerned that one 14-year-old would have trouble meshing with the other girls in her wing. Instead, one night, this same girl knocked on Conlon’s door in tears. She told Conlon she was bullied back home at school and had never felt more loved in her life than she had at teen camps. Conlon was so moved that she cried along with the girl.

The Patrick Henry College campus, comparatively quiet since students departed for summer break last month, will spring back to life next week with the first two of the summer’s Teen Leadership Camps. Before the end of July, hundreds of high schoolers will receive a firsthand look at PHC, experiencing exuberant fun and deep learning alongside other young leaders from around the nation.

Now in her third year as teen camps director, PHC alumna Dominique Deming is excited for next week’s moot court and creative writing camps to begin. She and her hand-picked team of counselors are spending a week of training, spiritual preparation, and team bonding in preparation for the intense, long days ahead.

“For me personally, working with the counselors is probably the best part of being involved with Teen Camps,” says Deming. “I know, based on feedback we have received, that our campers generally enjoy our counselors as much or more than every other aspect of camp -- which is saying a lot, since they usually love it all!”

Counselor Alan Carrillo, a teen camp veteran, says he has been continually struck by the tremendous influence counselors have in the camper’s lives. Experience tells him there will be a lot of changed lives by the end of the summer.

“This isn’t just a job, but a ministry,” Carrillo said. “We have a lasting impact on these kids.”

Counselors conduct announcement time during lunch

As usual, in applying for their summer jobs, counselors faced stiff competition from their fellow PHC classmates. Deming and others look for a history of servant leadership and for people who will complement each other well. Invariably, the team builds strong bonds and deep friendships while guiding the camp students through worship, classes, silly games, field trips, and the countless conversations that occur. One step ahead of the high schoolers under their charge, they enjoy sharing their lives and ensuring that all have a fun and useful experience.

In addition to the counselors, campers also get to enjoy daily interaction with PHC faculty and alumni, who direct the educational content of each camp. This year, for example, alumni-operated Ethos Debate has contracted to manage Debate Camp in July, and will bring years of championship-level competition skills to the intense, two-week camp.

PHC senior Chandler Karadsheh is running the popular Strategic Intelligence (SI) camp, which took a break last summer to, according to Deming, “revamp the program a little and make it better.” While there are openings available, SI Camp is already “very close to full.” Previous years have featured exciting evening “missions,” along with classroom instruction in the daytime.

Karadsheh is excited for everything this summer holds. He knows the counselors will do their best to ensure campers have a positive experience.

Campers study and prepare for debate rounds

“We want our campers to be able to look back and say, ‘I don’t think I’d be the person I am today without that experience,’” Karadsheh said.

New camps include: Founding Fathers and the Classical Tradition, taught by Assistant Professor of History Dr. Doug Favelo; Campaigns & Elections, taught by Associate Professor of Government Dr. Michael Haynes; and Creative Writing, taught by Associate Professor of Literature Dr. Bonnie Libby. Dr. Favelo is eager to show his students how the classical world shaped the founding fathers’ education and worldview. He will integrate multimedia with book time and will lead a field trip to the National Gallery in D.C. Camp will end with a history-bee competition on Friday.

Students will also visit D.C. for Campaigns & Elections camp, and they will tour the NRC headquarters, manage a simulated campaign and produce their own television commercial and radio spot. Counselors will judge the commercials to determine the best.

“The camp’s purpose is -- in a fun way -- to teach the attendees about the campaigns and elections process,” explains Dr. Haynes, “from large, national campaigns down to the nuts-and-bolts of grassroots politics.”

Registration for PHC’s summer camps is still open, but some weeks are filling fast! For the full schedule of camps, from mock trial to leadership & vocation to journalism, visit the camps website.