Elizabeth Skelly, St. Charles resident and recent graduate of Francis Howell Central High, was selected as a delegate for the 2018 National Youth Science Camp [NYSC] earlier this summer in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.
Skelly, the only delegate from Missouri, was one of more than 100 promising recent high school graduates from across the country and world who attended the NYSC.
The delegates flew into Charleston, South Carolina, and spent a night at the University of Charleston. They then headed to Camp Pocahontas – a remote campground in the National Radio Quiet Zone in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest – for three and a half weeks of outdoor adventure and STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] education.
Delegates didn’t know each day’s schedule in advance, and camp promotional materials didn’t offer much detail. They experienced educational and physical activities that pushed them to their limits and sometimes even out of their comfort zones, creating memorable and lasting experiences.
Throughout the NYSC, instructors from the academic and professional worlds, many of whom are former delegates, led directed studies on things such as tiny houses, robot navigation and candy- and chocolate-making. Staff members, many college students and recent science camp delegates, led seminars on things such as philosophy, jazz improvisation, swing dancing and foreign languages. Delegates also participated in physical endeavors such as hikes and rock climbing in the forest.
One instructor and former delegate Steve Blasberg noted that the NYSC is a place where young students can meet like-minded individuals.
“For most kids, this was the first time they had been around other people just like them,” he said. “They didn’t have to be embarrassed, and they didn’t have to hide.”
Skelly attended one of Blasberg’s studies at the camp, and enjoyed what she learned.
“I hope that in college I can merge the math that I love and the chemistry research that I find interesting,” she said. “[Blasberg’s] class showed me there are possibilities. It does happen and you can do it.”
Skelly will attend college at Northwest Missouri State University and study either chemistry or mathematics; she hopes to pursue nanochemistry as a chemical researcher.
Since its inception in 1963, the NYSC has brought more than 5,500 young people from around the country and world to the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.