Camp Potential

Elementary Students, High School Interns Benefit from Camp Potential
Posted on 06/21/2019
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Camp Potential campers at closing ceremony.A free two-week summer camp doubled as a learning opportunity for nearly 40 Lakota elementary students and an internship experience for 10 high-schoolers.

For a second year, Camp Potential invited gifted students entering grades 4-6 to participate in eight days of summer learning and enrichment at Hopewell Junior School. Every day, campers and their student counselors jumped into a different subject area ranging from science, writing and engineering to performing arts, social studies and even community affairs. The program is offered in partnership with Lakota LEADS, the district’s gifted parent support program.

“If campers were really interested in a certain area, we wanted to give them an immersive experience,” said Caroline Rueter, a recent Mount Notre Dame graduate who planned the first installation of the camp last summer to fulfill her school’s service-based capstone project. “It was all about meeting their needs, but also exposing them to lots of different interests.”

Running throughout the entire camp experience was a common Lakota classroom practice called Genius Hour - dedicated time for students to freely explore their passions and wonders. Select campers presented their final projects during the camp’s closing ceremony before all were put on display in the school’s cafeteria. While one student chose to replicate the peach basket game at King’s Island, another recreated a famous Claude Monet painting.

After investing about 200 hours into the project last summer (against the 24-hour capstone requirement), Rueter decided this year to work within the framework of Lakota’s internship program in order to involve Lakota high-schoolers with a passion for gifted education and counseling. The decision was rooted in her goal to sustain the camp for many years to come and even expand it to neighboring school districts in need of additional support for gifted services.

“Growing up gifted had its perks, but also a unique set of challenges I am still struggling to overcome,” Rueter said of her intrinsic motivation to start the camp. With a firsthand understanding of what gifted students need in their educational experience, she decided to take action and do her part to support them.

“Working with you campers has been both a blessing and a privilege,” she said during the closing ceremony. “In many ways, I feel that I may have learned more from you than you will ever learn from me.”