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Fond Memories of Nerd Camp

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the franklin-and-marshall-best-cty-site dept.

Education 116

Slate's "Summer Camp" issue has revived a piece from a few years back recounting author Meghan O'Rourke's experience as a student at "nerd camp." O'Rourke was a student at Johns Hopkin's CTY program (bias alert: so was I, and remain a fan), but I suspect there's a lot in common with the various Governor's Schools and programs like Duke's TIP. What's been your experience with such programs? Are you going to one now? Are your kids?

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The Summer Science Program (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36840420)

I did this camp the summer before senior year, and it was the best six weeks of my life so far. We were walked through the process of doing observations and writing a script to calculate the orbit of a near-earth asteroid. (The name is generic because the camp dates to the 50s.) Not anymore, obviously, but I understand that way back when Richard Feynman and some other folks at Caltech would guest-lecture from time to time.

Changed my Life (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36840492)

Governor's School was the first place I discovered where asking questions, thinking carefully and communicating clearly were valued rather than suppressed. It gave me hope that there were communities that valued wrestling with questions and solving problems and encouraged me to seek them out.

Re:Changed my Life (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842230)

Governor's School was the first place I discovered where asking questions, thinking carefully and communicating clearly were valued rather than suppressed. It gave me hope that there were communities that valued wrestling with questions and solving problems and encouraged me to seek them out.

Ah. So why do you come to the Slashdot comments section, then?

Re:GS Changed my Life (1)

nevermore94 (789194) | more than 3 years ago | (#36846698)

Governor's School (ND GS '93) was one of the defining experiences of my life as well, not only did I learn a lot about critical thinking and get my earliest tastes of real computer programming, I also gained many great life experiences. We went on many excellent field trips including a Canoe trip that I will never forget (I did fine because I was also a Boy Scout, but it taught some of the other "Nerds" there some really valuable life lessons). I learned how to survive on 4 hours of sleep a night with nothing but a little extra caffeine (although I did officially get sun glasses banned from our 7am PSD class, lol). And finally, I found family, after spending 6 weeks with these like minded individuals this only child felt like I had 39 new brothers and sisters. The reunion was a blast, we almost got kicked out of the restaurant we met in, lol.

Camp Atari (5, Interesting)

TheSync (5291) | more than 2 years ago | (#36840494)

I went to Camp Atari [] . I didn't learn anything, but the Warez were awesome! Getting disks was much better than downloading things at 300bps...

I also did Camp Watonka [] in the Poconos, where I got early exposure to amateur radio, model rockets, rifles, and extra-circular Dungeons & Dragons!

Re:Camp Atari (1)

theeddie55 (982783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841342)

So I'm not the only one who saw this and thought of Camp Watonka, I was a counsellor there in 2004 and loved the experience.

Re:Camp Atari (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841902)

Great camp! I have to credit the electronics lab there for cementing my career path. Though the dirt bikes and tour of a nuke plant were a good time too.

Re:Camp Atari (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36842272)

Watonka, that's where I got my ham license! Quite a great geek camp.

Re:Camp Atari (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36842972)

Camp Watonka was great! I was able to perform chemistry experiments that would be considered way way too dangerous by todays standards. When I took the glass off the beaker mid iodine crystal condensation, the purple cloud was tremendous!

$$$ camp (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843092)

Camp Watonka rates seem to start at $1200 a week for a 2 week camp. Damn! I can't imagine being able to save $4800 just to send my 2 kids off for 2 weeks, going up to $13800 for 8 weeks. I make a decent living but I'm not rich and that's extravagant by my standards. For $13800 I could take 2 months off and teach them heaps of cool stuff myself....or take my family on Safari!

Re:$$$ camp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36844380)

That is pretty cheap as camps go. That is 100 dollars a day (assuming you drop off on Sunday then pick up on Saturday) for room, board and activities.

Re:$$$ camp (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | more than 3 years ago | (#36845878)

Last time I checked... 7 * 100 = 700, not 1200. It's more like 1200 / 7 = 171.43 a day, roughly.

Re:Camp Atari (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36845668)

I also did one year at watonka. The electronics & rocketry programs were probably the funnest for me, then the dirt bikes, and playing HHGTTG on the apples, wait a min I think I'm dating myself here a bit.


Looks like it needs a reboot. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#36840508)

Anything is less fun if other nerds have used up all the good imagination space.

nerd camp != intelligence camp (0, Offtopic)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#36840544)

There is this belief among nerds that nerd = intelligent. IME, the vast majority of clever people are fairly well-adjusted and are better off spending most of their childhood and even first couple of years at university enjoying themselves at sport, socialising and generally becoming well-connected before getting down to serious work in the final years. Meanwhile, the majority of nerds may possess above average intelligence but are rarely geniuses - for the usual mark of a genius is the ability to quickly analyse and adapt, and nerds' abilities are usually too narrow to manage that.

Re:nerd camp != intelligence camp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36840946)

To each his own. Kids with talent and appetite for math should be encouraged in that direction, even if they are young, as long as they enjoy it. We don't want to starve their minds. You should have seen the kids I saw at math camp -- they truly loved it, savored it. They had the true spirit of mathematicians.

Not Necessarily at CTY... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36842066)

To each his own. Kids with talent and appetite for math should be encouraged in that direction, even if they are young, as long as they enjoy it. We don't want to starve their minds. You should have seen the kids I saw at math camp -- they truly loved it, savored it. They had the true spirit of mathematicians.

Yes, absolutely. But I don't know if CTY is the optimal environment for it--I've heard that you wind up with problems from having a lot of kids not quite mature enough to be on their own in that environment, even though they're smart.

Re:nerd camp != intelligence camp (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36840962)

AKA "I'm redefining intelligence to something that paints me in the most favorable light"

It's okay. We all do it. But you should at least admit it instead of making silly claims like "for the usual mark of a genius is the ability to quickly analyse and adapt, and nerds' abilities are usually too narrow to manage that." Yeah, that's *one* definition, but it's not the *only* definition.

Re:nerd camp != intelligence camp (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841562)

Nevermind that lots of people at CTY had those characteristics and didn't fit into the outdated and inaccurate depiction of nerds.

Re:nerd camp != intelligence camp (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842216)

I was going to flame you, being someone that self identifies with nerds.

Then I RTFA'd. Nerd camp sounds awful. There's nothing wrong with learning, but summer vacation is for larking around, spending time with friends, possibly blowing stuff up. Not sitting in class and getting a semester ahead. Jesus.

Re:nerd camp != intelligence camp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36842354)

It's not about getting a semester ahead, it's about being exposed to mathematical problem solving, and diving into true, beautiful math--experiences which aren't available in most high schools. We all have our own idea of fun. Believe it or not, some kids think a summer of mathematical exploration is fun.

I spent two summers at a math camp. I loved it, it was an amazing experience.

Re:nerd camp != intelligence camp (1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842926)

Yea, I'm split between these two opinions; I agree that some down time is precious, be a kid, nerd or otherwise. But then again, one must make hay while the sun shines.

Re:nerd camp != intelligence camp (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843062)

There is this belief among nerds that nerd = intelligent. IME, the vast majority of clever people are fairly well-adjusted and are better off spending most of their childhood and even first couple of years at university enjoying themselves at sport, socialising and generally becoming well-connected before getting down to serious work in the final years. Meanwhile, the majority of nerds may possess above average intelligence but are rarely geniuses - for the usual mark of a genius is the ability to quickly analyse and adapt, and nerds' abilities are usually too narrow to manage that.

If you look at stereotypical scientists like Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and the like, they were not well adjusted people. If you don't consider these guys geniuses you're in the minority. Being good at something (physics in this instance) doesn't automatically make you good at other things like social interaction, and often genius types consider it a waste of time to bother with petty social conventions.

Re:nerd camp != intelligence camp (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36847376)

I wasn't talking about "petty social conventions", though it's clear what your opinion is and that you wanted to talk about it anyway.

Nerds like to think that they are smart because they are part of a group of people who are commonly considered as smart. I would argue that the only common feature among nerds is that they are nerdy, i.e. that they have non-sporty obsessions which they're keen to get involved in, they think rigidly outside those obsessions, they lack social skills, etc. Hearing nerds talk of themselves as smart is like hearing people who self-diagnose with Internet Asperger's and then assert that people on the autism spectrum are often smart. In fact, the common feature of people on the autism spectrum is that they suffer from a disorder with the features of autism. Yes, it's great when people in a wheelchair can move fast in their chair, but we don't celebrate being crippled: we celebrate operating despite being crippled.

Newton may have been a mass of spiky extremes (Run, you pigeons, it's Robert Frost!), but he was a brilliant communicator. Opticks is pretty much a guide on writing new science in a manner accessible to the intelligent layperson, and Principia is worth any mathematician, scientist or engineer's time as an introduction to Newtonian mechanics. I'd argue that it's necessary to go back to Euclid to find another (supposedly) single mathematician/scientist's writing sufficiently comprehensive, complete and readable that it's worth any schoolchild going straight to the source to learn the fundamentals. Einstein had convictions; he had regrets; he had affairs - he may not have had a smart haircut but he was very much human.

Newton's later religious and monetary obsessions coincided with a decline in scientific output. It's certainly true that clever people often seem to burn out or become consumed in their own egos. It'd be interesting to study whether this is because of the laudation heaped upon them - in all fields, humans have a habit of praising the man rather than the output.

(Sometimes, I think, people become marketing consultants for their former image - Steve Jobs may the best person at this in the world at the moment.)

Sounds like a nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36840556)

CTY wasn't free of social hierarchy, though; it just replaced the conventional hierarchy with its own. The most outré characters—the ones who figured out how to turn their intelligence into a discernible attitude, like Zephyr and his crew—became the camp's cult heroes. The rest of the food chain included its jocks, bullies, and nerds, and what we called "the silent and the faceless."
The great thing about the summer recess was the escape from the fuckers I couldn't stand. Can't imagine continuing the torture past Memorial day.

POSSESSION IS 9/10ths OF THE LAW !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36840574)

The With intent to distribute is what really gets you, though !!

Re:POSSESSION IS 9/10ths OF THE LAW !! (1)

zerro (1820876) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841774)

*math* camp, not meth camp...

Many moons ago... (1)

bolthole (122186) | more than 2 years ago | (#36840612)

(circa 1985?)I went to some summer day camp related to National Merit achievements, or PSAT scores. Something like that.
It involved encouraging high school(?) kids to self-pace their way through a calculus workbook. It was taught at Mills College.

It sucked.
The "instructor" was some 18 year old idiot, I got way too frustrated, and it was too far for me anyways: 2 hours by bus or something each way. Horrific. And there was no social element to it.
Put me off calculus in a major way, even though I had previously been quite good at it. After that, I topped out at only 730/800 on my math SAT or something like that. Boo.

You were tricked. (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841080)

Dude, that wasn't summer day camp... that was SUMMER SCHOOL.

Re:Many moons ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36842390)

I went to that a few years earlier; it was taught at UC Berkeley then. 1983 summer, I was between 8th and 9th grade.

It was great!

Partly i think because I took two classes just for fun: a literature class and marine biology.

The marine bio I enjoyed the material some, but wasn't a huge fish nerd like the other students, and it was a lot of receiving lecturing before we started doing a 'behavioural study' of something in the Steinhart Aquarium to write a report about. I picked a moray eel, which actually didn't do much.

The literature class was a shocking change: Actual discussion of books! Not just regurgitate the teacher's position on what was meant by the author! An understanding of the history of literature, the importance of referencing older works and themes in creating a deep context! Talking with other kids who cared, some of which were GIRLS!

And, because I had a few hours between classes, it introduced me to knocking about a town, checking out bookstores and cheap food.

Re:Many moons ago... (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842898)

Experiences differ. In 1980 I went to a nerd camp: launched rockets, did program a PET Comodore (launching a career in the process), amateur radio, explosives and a whole lot of other stuff. The programming teacher was an ex paratrooper from WWII (I could never figure that one out) with plenty of stories to tell. And all the other teachers were fun.

Nerd Camp (1)

pen-helm (1619273) | more than 2 years ago | (#36840812)

Computer camp was good, TIP better, and the Governor's Scholars Program was the high point of my life. Ordinary camp was bad.

Re:Nerd Camp (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#36845352)

Ordinary camp was bad.

Really? While I loved my two trips to the Governors Summer Institute I wouldn't trade my time in regular summer camp for anything. 250 acres of wilderness and a 35 acre lake were incredible fun to explore. We got to play with bb guns, bow and arrows, rifles, and all sorts of watercraft. Oh, and my first time making out was at summer camp.

Re:Nerd Camp (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36848780)

Oh, and my first time making out was at summer camp.

I am guessing this wasn't Boy Scout camp?

Well, No (1)

Nukedoom (1776114) | more than 2 years ago | (#36840884)

I go to college and I don't have kids...I think...But it sounds like I could've made some friends there.

Went to CTY (2)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#36841018)

I went to CTY for two summers. Some of the best experiences I had as a young kid were there. I also later went to PROMYS, which is Boston Univesity's program which teaches number theory to highschool students which I then ended up working for as a counselor when I became an undergrad. These programs are very good for kids.

Challenge to Excellence (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841076)

Great camp [] . Such a horrible t-shirts.

Went as kid; Taught as an adult (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36841086)

I took 3 course at CTY in Lancaster, PA. Marine Ecology and two CS classes.

The great thing for me was the social environment. It was the first place that I met kids "like me" and I "fit in". From neglect (or parental blindspots), I had no social skills, but people accepted me anyway - and for that I will love CTY forever. Just seeing that other smart kids were social (unlike what I was shown on TV) was a huge change in my mindset. Now, I'm probably shier than the average person, but I'm a huge extrovert compared to other computer geeks.

The courses were useful too. I still enjoy looking at sealife (Santa Cruz's tidal pools rock!). The credits didn't transfer to college, but I breeze through my first two years of Computer Science at Notre Dame because of them.

In graduate school, I went back to teach one of the same CS courses. The instructors were having as much fun as the kids! I'd work my ass off during the day, but sacrifice sleep to go have a beer with the other instructors. Between late nights during the week and even later parties on the weekends, all the instructors crashed by the 5th weekend. The last week was a slog. It was a joy to see the kids learning and enjoying it and solving the same problems I struggled with as a kid. At the end, I got to talk to one kid's parents and say "your kid needs to learn how to pick up social cues; he doesn't know when to stop talking." The wide-eyed parents responded "Our kid talked?!!! That's wonderful!!!" ...and then I knew I'd been teaching someone just like me.

Mike N.

"... and the three men I admire most, The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. They caught the last train for the coast. And they were singing..."

Re:Went as kid; Taught as an adult (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#36845358)

I went to Lancaster for four summers (six sessions total) as a student. The program changed my life. Like you, it was my first opportunity meeting kids "like me". I'm not sure if I would have made it through high school without keeping in touch with the friends that I met during those four summers. Geology '93, Digital Logic '94, Genetics and Fast-Paced Math '95, Astronomy and Physics '96.

During my last summer of graduate school (2005), I had the opportunity to return to Lancaster as a TA. It was both the most stressful and rewarding job of my life. (Lesson learned - I do NOT have what it takes to be a teacher.) I still remember when I first was moving in as a TA - I chose not to bring any wine/beer/alcohol of any sort because the pamphlet said "don't let the kids even catch a HINT of alcohol". I moved in and one of the guys in my suite had three cases of Lancaster Strawberry Wheat. I quickly learned that "milk and cookies" meant "beer and wings at Doc Holliday's". :)

Re:Went as kid; Taught as an adult (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852834)

Who was your Geology instructor? I had Bob Zei, in 1991. Great class, well taught -- south-central PA has a lot of offer for Geology.


National Youth Science Camp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36841088)

It was an amazing experience, dissecting a human hand, learning about AI, and talking with US senators over dinner.

There's downsides (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36841120)

I dated a girl who went to this. She was quite bright but lacked many skills that kids normally hone during the summer like swimming or riding bikes. Seems a bit sad really.

Teen Tech Fest anyone? (1)

Falc0n (618777) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841256)

I was one of those lucky high school tech nerds that attended Teen Tech Fest 2000 [] sponsored by AcePlanet and Microsoft. It was its first and last year, since AcePlanet went belly up like many other startups of the time. AcePlanet was going to do annual computer-themed summer camps for kids, but I guess there wasn't enough money in it.

Already being already an F/OSS person, it was a very fun camp. Despite being Microsoft sponsored (and getting a free copy of VS6 and tour of the MS campus), many of the kids there were very open source users and programmers. Many to this day I still talk to and are in tech related industries, including a few working at Google and Intel.

Re:Teen Tech Fest anyone? (1)

beaverbrother (586749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841996)

I was there too. Now a PhD student at a top school. I don't think I would have learned C++ until many years later without the free copy of VS6. (Though to remind you, the reason we got the free copy was because we were not allowed to see something that was promised in the contest description and I think someone's lawyer parents threatened MS)

MSA-Missouri Scholars Academy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36841314)

I'll let the other alums take it from here.

Re:MSA-Missouri Scholars Academy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36841892)

I'll let the other alums take it from here.


CY-TAG at Iowa State (1)

vossman77 (300689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841356)

I went to CY-TAG at Iowa State [] (a spin off of CTY). Greatest experience of my life, I don't know if I would have made through junior high / high school without the friends I met there. It motivated me to become more intelligent that I was not getting from similar peers at home. I highly recommend sending you kids to nerd camp.

Re:CY-TAG at Iowa State (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36842602)

I am also a former CY-TAGger from 1997-1998.

I went to CTY (2)

Elbows (208758) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841428)

I was like 10 or 11, IIRC. The older kids picked on me, and on the first day, one of the counselors yelled at me, made me cry, and called me a sissy. That's right, I was bullied at nerd camp. ;-)

But otherwise it was pretty cool. I think I did programming for the whole week. When they figured out that I had a handle on BASIC, they taught me Apple II assembler, which was pretty exciting at the time.

OSC SI (2)

Orinthe (680210) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841460)

My brother and I both went (different years) to the Ohio Supercomputer Summer Institute [] . While I can't say it was a life-altering experience (we both were already interested in computers and programming; you needed to be to get into the program since applicants have to solve a simple programming problem), it was a great experience both socially and practically—we got to make friends with other geeky kids and do work (and play) on "real" computers (everything at the time was done on SGI workstations running IRIX and we even got accounts on Cray and SGI supercomputers) and do generally cool stuff. I think that in terms of actual usefulness to the local/regional/educational/technical community though, a longer and perhaps more introductory program would have been better. 2 weeks isn't long enough to accomplish a lot when you're trying to get things done with excited teenagers (it would be hard for anyone), and the fact that the program is limited to somewhat-experienced kids means that while you can accomplish more in that short time you also are not really doing a lot to get new people interested and engaged with technology.

Computer camp, 1973 (1)

alispguru (72689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841468)

Clemson University. One room, sixteen ASR-33 110-baud TTYs attached to a PDP-8, thirty-two high-schoolers. After a few days in that room, your ears would interpret any low-frequency thumping as TTY noise - half the campers were convinced they were piping printer sounds into our dorm rooms at night (it was just the air conditioner).

Ended up writing a Spacewar game as my senior science project.

Re:Computer camp, 1973 (1)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 3 years ago | (#36845116)

Several of my friends went there and they still have fond memories of it to this day. I won't lie, I always envied them.

Duke TIP (2)

xvedejas (1333013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841546)

I did three years of Duke TIP; The first year was really useful for getting me to open up socially. The second year I took a political philosophy class, and it lead me to really re-evaluate my beliefs and values. The third year, though, was the one that affected me most. I had a very exciting class on Nanotechnology (first term 2008) that really sparked an ambition in me. Now I'm about to publish my first math paper and attend Caltech. I wouldn't be where I am without having gone to TIP.

Re:Duke TIP (1)

ph0rk (118461) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841760)

Wow, when I did it all that happened were drugs, booze, and sex. I was just there for the math.

I'd expect most of the people capable of gaining admission to such programs will do quite well with or without them.

Re:Duke TIP (1)

xvedejas (1333013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842558)

Interesting. When did you go? There was none of the above when I went, barely even rumors.

Re:Duke TIP (1)

sarahbau (692647) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843408)

I did three years of TIP as well, and loved each year. I got to do computer modeling, take psychology, learn several programming languages and more, years before I was to go to college. The best part though was the people. I have never been so comfortable around people I just met. It was like everyone was cool (I'm sure "lame" by someone else's definition though).

Re:Duke TIP (1)

EMeta (860558) | more than 3 years ago | (#36851822)

TIP was really important for me opening up socially too. I still get chills thinking about it. I was there a bit before you (east, term 2, 95-96), but those 6 weeks were easily the most important of my life up to that, and in some ways even since because of the amazing people i met. I shudder to think how disaffected I might have become without it and those connections.

I'll stop the gushing now. But if anyone has the chance to send their kids, do it! It was easily the best investment made in my pre-college life.

Best time of my life... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36841606)

Can't think of where I went. I think it was called Computer Ed High Tech Camps at the time. Somewhere near Boston in the 1990s for a number of summers. The camp then had been around 10 maybe 15 or even 20 years. It was held at a small college that was originally a 2 year school for women which focused on teaching them be home makers. As hilarious as that sounds today the school I believe was from the 1950s. Maybe 2k students at the most.

Great times. Maybe partly because it was exactly the opposite of school for me. I was free to learn, discover, and mess around on my own terms with others who had similar interests. Though I think I was probably more into it than anybody else. I was the only one there who wasn't playing Quake :). Maybe that was just because I was old school. I did play the original Wolfenstein although that was really before I ever went to camp. By that time I had discovered computer programming. While I admittedly am ashamed of the things I learned back then (almost entirely Microsoft although not entirely) I was young!

GNU/Linux was in its infancy and was just becoming known to me. I have to say though I was briefly introduced to it possibly for the first time. What drove me nuts is that I had the opportunity to get more informed and missed it. There was a younger kid who had a laptop with it and he wasn't very sociable. I did get to see it and that was about it. :( I would have loved to have gotten to know the kid better because he was a god. He knew so much about something I craved. There was another kid who was also very knowledgeable and every summer he came back knowing like 10x more than me.

I came to conclude being sociable is not a trait of intelligence. I was to sociable and not sociable enough. I did have a friend though back home during that time which introduced me to stuff. Two actually. One was older exchange student we had living with us for a year and another was this truly brilliant friend in the same grade as me. He lived close enough we hung out (it took allot of work though on bike) but then he moved away. 3 or 4 years of good times I had. Surprisingly bunched in with some horrible times as well.

The contrast probably helped make it the best time in my life. I hated school my entire child hood. Did nothing but hold me back from learning and put me situations I didn't like socially.


I went to both CTY and TIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36841648)

I actually attended both Johns Hopkins' CTY program and Duke's TIP (if I recall correctly, they are regionally-based and so supposed to be exclusionary so I understand that may identify me).

I enjoyed the extra curriculars at TIP far more in spite of the NC heat, but the classes at CTY were better taught and more educational. Duke classes only got good when you moved to the pre-college program arm.

I don't know what they're like these days but 30 years ago they were decidedly not nerd camps. There were a few nerds, including myself, but frankly most of the students were perfectly normal adolescents who also happened to be really, really smart. That meant make-out parties, hookups and even (big scandal) one small orgy.

Re:I went to both CTY and TIP (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 3 years ago | (#36844484)

I worked for CTY for a few years in the late '80s. I never fully digested the history of the politics but CTY and TIP apparently agreed that CTY would get the coasts for talent search and TIP would get the interior. Didn't seem to me like that was a great deal for TIP. That was a long time ago. Wasn't TIP based on the ACT? CTY had kids from TIP's territory too. Fine if you heard about it. They just didn't promote in each other's territory.

Glad it worked out for you. Back then the internet wasn't common, dial-up like CompuServe was just getting into the home and I know the opportunity for kids to mingle with kids like themselves was a really intense experience. The RA's used to joke that the final dance was hell. They practically had to say, "Untangle yourself from that boy and go to the dorm. You're never going to see each other again for the rest of your lives. Until you die!"

Cheerleaders & Wardialers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36841752)

Ahhhh... Nerd Camp.
Remember that time at nerd camp and the cheerleader camp was going on at the same time?
Remember when we setup a wardialer to try and call them?

Camp Quest (1)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 3 years ago | (#36841832)

Many here will be interested in Camp Quest. They offer a secular experience for kids of ages 8-17. The curriculum includes freethought, Humanism, scientific method and peer review, skeptism, etc... plus all the traditional camp stuff like archery, swimming, hiking, arts and crafts, and songs.

There are 10 locations in the United States, and three overseas. []

East Carolina University Science Camp (1)

jasonhfl (657075) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842076)

I remember attending for 3 years in the mid 80's and getting to use a scanning electron microscope and programming in Pascal on Apple II's with a computer science professor named Dr. Wirth. (No, not that Wirth.) It was really cool as a kid from rural NC to get to use the scanning electron microscope. We also made nylon string from 2 liquids in chemistry. I got to see the effect of liquid nitrogen on rubber balls and fruits. I have very fond memories of the experience.

Math Skills Improvement at Claflin College (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842114)

Mine was an interesting situation. I had been turned down for Governor's Honors camp in GA and was so pissed off, I vowed I'd apply to the first summer program that was announced on the school radio. That turned out to be Math Skills Improvement, a six week algebra, trig, and pre-calculus cram session for juniors and seniors at Claflin College in SC, a historically all black school. I was the only white girl there. It was a good experience for me in many ways - I got paid $400 for being the token affirmative action kid, I got a much needed butt kicking in pre-calculus as I headed onto AP calc in my senior year, and I learned the ins and outs of Excel in such a way that I'm now known as the spreadsheet master at my office. I was with friends from high school, and made many more friends during the summer. And I learned to booty dance.

Re:Math Skills Improvement at Claflin College (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36845560)

Yesterday I had a long talk about how I was sorry about the coffee in my keyboard, and promised never to do it again.

You and your booty dancing almost screwed that up on day one. Day one!

Genesis Science and Technology Forum (1)

sc0p3 (972992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842264)

"Genesis Science and Technology Forum" / "Geek Camp" In New Zealand. It was an amazing experience, highly recommend to kids should do to inspire social connections in science + fun science. []

Andrew's Leap CMU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36842388)

I went to Andrew's Leap at CMU for a summer and I would say it was one of the most life changing events I've ever experienced. The camp was 7 weeks and focused on either programming or robotics based on the students interest. While the classes were great the real icing was the guest speakers (generally 4 per week in the afternoon). My year was fortunate enough to have Randy Pausch come in and talk. I ended up coming back as a TA the next year. The only kicker was that you had to take a logic test to get in that sent many a student home crying.

We were too poor for no fancy nerd camp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36842428)

My idea of summa camp was waiting for the sun to go down so we could start throwin stuff at houses and shootin the windows out of cars.

Computer/Circus Camp! (2)

voidstin (51561) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842522)

I went to New England Computer Camp. 8086 Assembly in the morning, Trapeze and Fire Eating in the afternoon. That was an awesome camp.

Lego Logo (2)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842562)

I have great memories of being in middle school and going to a "camp" at the highschool computer lab for several days in the summer. We got to play with legos (before mind storms and NXT) hooked up to Apple IIe's, programmed in Logo. That was the best.

Later I got a job at the school and found the kits packed away in boxes in the basement. I got permission to borrow some kits and had a great time reliving the experience.

oh, yeah... (1)

Mystic Pixel (911992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36842912)

timothy, I recall meeting you at CTY one summer, probably in 2000... heh.

One of the neat things that I recall about CTY was the relative level of independence you were given... yeah, you had to be places at certain times, and your whereabouts had to be accounted for, but you still had a lot of leeway, so there were opportunities to explore and interact outside the standard structure. Combine that with being around around other nerds, and it can be really rewarding for a kid at that age.

Mathcamp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36843186)

I'm a counselor at Mathcamp right now ( after having spent four summers as a student from 1999 to 2002. It's been a life changing experience for many of us, and a great way to see tons of math that you wouldn't normally see until grad school. And it's a ton of fun.

Logic (2)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843196)

I did CTY one summer, at Franklin and Marshall. I studied informal logic-- what math majors would probably dismiss as mere rhetoric. I got in trouble for going off with a bunch of my friends and playing D&D during "Mandatory Fun."

Re:Logic (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 3 years ago | (#36844288)

I worked _for_ CTY in Baltimore and spent two summers on site at F&M in the '80s. It seemed like an extraordinary program. There was some institutional regimentation however, and I hear you about "Mandatory Fun." You understand that since you were hardly off campus, in class all day and study hall in the evening before being herded to your dorm "Mandatory Fun" was taken very seriously and intentionally planned to burn off youthful energy so you wouldn't go stir crazy?

Re:Logic (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852876)

What year? I took logic w/ Scott Schreiber in 1990, and there was a Jeremy in my class ...


I was stranded in Ontario's woods for 3 months... (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843398)

Stranded with only a hatchet, a pan, some fishing gear, a warm coat & "snow pants" I soon realized I needed shelter to survive the -40 degree nights so I built a suitable shelter in the lee of a tree. After nearly being caught in a storm too far from shelter, I stayed until Spring.

Being totally disconnected from everyone and all electronics (they froze, and died) while surviving off the land (ice fishing at night, collecting firewood and sleeping during the day) for three solid months changed my perspective about what's really important. I spent a lot of time thinking while "camping" under the cold clear sky -- Shooting stars can be seen at least once every two hours, you can see our satellites orbiting with the naked eye, and the Aurora Borealis can appear in a myriad of shapes and colors, once as if the whole sky was a giant red wagon wheel.

Our temperately stable planet is so beautiful yet insignificant -- The whole thing could disappear and the universe wouldn't notice at all, only our solar system might, a bit. The only real thing that matters now is getting off this rock so all our eggs aren't in one basket... We're so self important, petty and insignificant, but it's technology and sharing of knowledge that can make us great, if we put aside not-so-different differences we may even be able to survive the heat-death of the universe by creating our own stars.

Perhaps it was more of an "anti-geek camp", but I'm truly more driven, easy-going and appreciative of all the amazing technology I have... I now walk away from wastes of time, enjoy in camaraderie, collaboration and contributing to software projects, and think of benefits and consequences in terms far beyond my own life-span. It was a true "thinking man's" experience, to say the least.

Re:I was stranded in Ontario's woods for 3 months. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36844360)

"The only real thing that matters now is getting off this rock so all our eggs aren't in one basket"

"We're so self important"

While it sounds like a great experience, I don't think it was quite as insightful as you say...

Re:I was stranded in Ontario's woods for 3 months. (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36847868)

Thanks for sharing.

See also: []
"In this influential work about the staggering divide between children and the outdoors, child advocacy expert Richard Louv directly links the lack of nature in the lives of today's wired generation -- he calls it nature-deficit -- to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Last Child in the Woods is the first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions and simple ways to heal the broken bondâ"and many are right in our own backyard."

We have lived in the NY Adirondack Park for several years, and I can say it has had some of the same effects you describe (but not as intensely living in a house, obviously).

Being outside a lot is also a bit of a cure for vitamin D deficiency that unknowingly afflicts so many "nerds", so that might have had beneficial health effects, as might have eating more simply. See:
    "How to escape The Pleasure Trap" []

I'd be curious how you got stranded anywhere like that these days.

Bias alerts should be mandatory on this site (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843490)

... especially in the comments :-)

Canada USA Mathcamp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36843662)

Is extremely legit. I've been there.

Is this like fat camp (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843694)

Since the purpose of fat camp is to burn the fat... what the hell is going to happen to a nerd at nerd camp?

Play sports all day to burn the nerd right out of you? Kill small furry creatures until you are a proper redneck? The HORROR!

Re:Is this like fat camp (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843880)

Don't be ridiculous. That's like saying that Boy Scout camp is to burn the scouts... oh. I see. Carry on, then.

Didn't go to camp (2)

AB3A (192265) | more than 3 years ago | (#36843930)

I was one of many children. We didn't go to camp much. Instead, we explored the city parks and library. We designed and built our own rockets with no adult supervision. Not all of them flew as expected. We explored forgotten civil war forts, mapped (and found) old trenches between forts, built ham radio gear and antennas, studied assembly language programming on a local university's DecSystem-20, and read mounds of science fiction.

In short, I didn't need a camp to teach me how to do this stuff. I am a self made nerd.

CTY and TIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36843946)

Had 2 kids, one went to CTY at F&M, one went to TIP at Duke. Both very positive experiences.

My memory of CTY was the kids taught themselves an early high school math course and seemed to be having lots of fun with each other while they were there. The halls were full of kids playing frisbee when we arrived to pick him up. Later went on the Science and Tech magnet school, ChemE and masters in ChemE.

TIP kid studied MacroEconomics and somehow test results got him a 1 course scholarship to the local college where he studied MicroEconomics and received college credit before he was in high school. Somehow managed to keep his age from being known as he was big for his age. Went on to magnet school, undergrad magna cum in Business and top-5 Law school. Became a rabid Duke fan though he didn't go there for undergrad or law.

So our family experiences were quite positive. That was a simpler time with not quite the electronics they have today so the kids just got out and invented physical games sometimes of played board games if it was raining. No idea what the programs are like now.

Met my wife at CTY (1)

jbank (618235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36844092)

In '88 as an 8th grader I met and dated my wife at CTY while I took trig. It was at the commuting site at Hopkins, which was probably less fun than the sites where you stayed there. It did seem like most of the kids just dicked around (my wife included), while I was cramming to try to actually pass out of a class. So I guess I would send my kids there, but with expectations set pretty low.

3 CTY (1)

weilawei (897823) | more than 3 years ago | (#36844214)

Went to Schnectedy for CTY, took etymology the summer after 7th grade. Fantastic program, wish I could've done it another year (but I was at the tail end of eligibility my first and only year). I also learned how to play Mao, Egyptian Ratscrew, and various other games. Played a lot of ultimate frisbee too. Plus, the dances weren't half bad, and casino night was awesome.

Camps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36844390)

I went to a similar camp held at Johns Hopkins, and it is what got me interested in CS. Now I'm teaching a robotics summer camp at GWU and working on my PhD in CS (qute literally right now, class beginsin 15)!

my experience: (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 3 years ago | (#36844742)

My experience consisted of qualifying, wanting to go, then not being able to go because it was so damned expensive and my parents couldn't afford it. This was Duke TIP. C'est la vie.

GA Governor's Honors (1)

m4n1m4l (871497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36844770)

I attended the Governor's Honors program in Georgia the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. It was like a 6-week college experience. It was even held on a college campus. We had dorm rooms, intramural sports, mixers, and cafeteria food. We had to do our own laundry and had to keep the dorms tidy. We each had a major and a minor subject. The best part was being put together with kids of similar drive and talent but with very diverse backgrounds and interests. It helped me to break out of my sheltered mindset and understand that not everyone has the same worldview as I do. 23 years later, I am still in touch with several of my fellow students, one of which ended up being a groomsman in my wedding. That summer "nerd camp" was undoubtedly the peak of my high school experience.

CyberCamps (1)

lokispundit (975030) | more than 3 years ago | (#36844920)

The summer before my junior year of college I had the chance to be the assistant director (i.e. head geek) at CyberCamps in the Boston area. The camp taught a good variety of Web(HTML), C++, 3D design and introductory robotics.

The courses were fun and decently challenging but the best part was seeing kids (ages 7-15) actually learn and use technology that they had never known or seen before. We had artists who learned graphic design for the first time, Lego kids who learned about microprocessors and servos and other kids who ate up intro to C++ like candy.

It really is a great feeling to see kids enjoy learning and show off their accomplishments.

To this day its the best job I ever had :)

CTY and PA Gov's School (1)

ejtttje (673126) | more than 3 years ago | (#36845084)

CTY in particular was life changing (F&M FTW!), I am so glad for that experience and the people I met there. Pennsylvania's Governor's School for the Sciences was also very well done, but I'll point out that PA has since cancelled its program because the state politicians are shortsighted idiots. Not that there's any other kind...

Intensive Mathematics Institute (1)

jdavidb (449077) | more than 3 years ago | (#36845242)

After participating in Duke University's TIP, I went to Intensive Mathematics Institute (IMI) at University of North Texas. Three weeks and I learned Algebra from one of the best textbooks I've ever seen. There was some socializing, too, but honestly, the best part was the math. Sad, I know. We did take a trip to Six Flags one weekend.

The program had classes for Algebra I & II, Geometry, Pre-calculus, and Calculus. I had thought the program was gone, but I see that UNT now has an SMI program that looks very similar, but doesn't offer Calculus. I remember there were kids there with perfect SAT scores, in the seventh grade. :)

This was the part of my life where I first started staying up late. I didn't quite go to "all-nighters," but I started violating the lights out policy and staying up for hours in the bathroom doing the assignments. As a result I was one of the kids who finished the program. :) But I sure was sleepy! I learned there was no real way to make up for that lack of sleep. But it didn't stop me, and it set a life-long pattern that continues to this day. And should probably stop!

When I got back to school in the fall for eighth grade, I had been under the impression I was going to get credit for Algebra I and go straight to 9th grade Geometry. Alas, such was not the case; and I repeated Algebra I, using a crappier book, and taking all year instead of three weeks. I was pretty discouraged.

Years later I met a sweet, smart girl who had been homeschooled. When we got married and started having children, she sold me on the idea of homeschooling our children, and we started collecting textbooks of all levels and subjects. I was delighted to find the same Algebra I textbook I'd used at IMI, and once I knew the name, publisher, and author, I looked it up online and found it got rave reviews. I don't know if my kids will do Algebra I in three weeks, but they will have a good textbook for it.

Re:Intensive Mathematics Institute (1)

theskipper (461997) | more than 3 years ago | (#36847230)

Do you have the ISBN or author for that textbook? TIA.

GSchool and TIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36845616)

I'm a proud 4 year attendee of TIP and a graduate of a Governor's School (of Science and Math).

They were the best decisions of my life, with impacts much more far reaching than the 52 hours of AP credit that I brought into college back in the day.

Even though I'm in the working world now, and we're all slowly spreading out more and more, all of us from Gschool are still in regular contact with each other and are still great friends. Hell, I even messaged a few people from TIP last year on facebook.

3 you gschool.

Not quite "Camp" per se (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 3 years ago | (#36845652)

University of Calgary's Mini University [] program was a day camp my sister and I did back in like 1984. I am happy it's still around to be honest :)

As a day camp, you got to go learn about different faculties in the university. Predictably, the math and science sections got filled up first, but I ended up learning about Linguistics, raquetball, and silk screen printing instead (even made our own bootleg "Ghostbusters" t-shirts! :D). I was disappointed at first when I didn't get the uber-geek section, but was quite happy at the end of the couple of weeks with the new stuff I learned. Ended up taking an Intro to Linguistics course when I did go to university years later.

NC Governors School (1)

RobL3 (126711) | more than 3 years ago | (#36846352)

Anybody else here do NCGS in the 80's? As I recall there were two - East and West. East was the more "progressive". We had classes in meditation, punk rock and hitch-hiking as well as our core subject area. Was a great time, and changed my life - tax dollars well spent.

Astro-Science Workshop FTW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36847840)

Northwestern, University of Chicago, and Adler Planetarium has run Astro-Science Workshop for many decades, teaching astronomy, astrophysics, atmospheric science, and electronics to gifted high-school sophomores and juniors from the Chicago area.
When I was in the program, it was every Saturday morning throughout the school year (sorry, not summer camp). We had the chance to learn from and meet more Nobel laureates than I've met since.
Still significant "street cred" in hard science and engineering circles.

College for kids (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36848444)

I did 2 summers at the gifted program at Blair Academy in NJ. Rather than a single-subject experience like math camp or computer camp, it was more like college for kids.

There was a wide variety of subjects available, most at the college level. And don't recall prerequisites being an issue. In the real world I was a math/science nerd, but at Blair I got to take things like creative writing.

But I think more important than the academic aspect (for me) was the social aspect. With everyone living on campus with minimal adult supervision, it was also like college socially (without alcohol). And since it wasn't camp for a specific subject, we didn't have the gender-bias seen in certain subjects. I had many good times with the nerd girls of summer.

Although it was only for a handful of weeks over 2 summers, the relationships have been lasting. I'm more in touch with friends from nerd camp than from high school.

I was forced to go to church camp (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36852756)

ya, church camp. totally sucked.

but it was there when i first made the decision i didn't believe in the crap they were spewing and wouldn't be getting involved ever again.

Probably didn't learn as much as I might have at a nerd camp, but it did help guide my life for the better.


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