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GA Students Create Camp Intellect

In a matter of weeks, Germantown Academy students Helen Wu '21and Jason Wang '22 created, launched, and hosted Camp Intellect, an intensive, fee-based summer English and science enrichment program for students entering grades 7-9 on Zoom.

“We wanted to use our skills and knowledge to give back to our communities during these tumultuous times,” stated their website. “This is why we donated 100 percent of all proceeds to COVID-19 relief.”

Proceeds went to three non-profit organizations: Save The Children: Coronavirus Response Fund, Partners in Health, and the Philadelphia Foundation COVID-19 Fund.

From the start, we created Camp Intellect with the intent of donating the entirety of our proceeds,” said the dynamic duo. “Both of us have close connections to many frontline workers, and we see first-hand how much these individuals sacrifice each day to help others. We also realized that during these times, many summer educational opportunities have been canceled. Thus, we saw the perfect opportunity to use our skills to give back to our community, both by providing an accessible educational program and by alleviating the impacts of the pandemic.”

Wu and Wang were inspired to create the camp’s curriculum after they found themselves giving “tips and tricks” to a few rising freshmen earlier in the year.

“We realized that our experience and guidance could in fact benefit a much broader range of students, and thus came Camp Intellect,” said Wang. “Our biggest goal in teaching our students is not necessarily teaching them ‘textbook information,’ but rather, for them to become familiarized with the rigor and intricacies of high school by mimicking high school classes, grading, and projects, etc. One of the key reasons we initiated Camp Intellect was because we experienced the difficulties of the transition from middle school to high school firsthand. We believe that the need for better preparation is not isolated to a particular type of school, but rather a universal challenge faced by many students. Just like ‘pre-studying’ for a course ahead of time allows you to be better prepared for classes, using the summers leading up to high school productively is the key to ensuring your later success.”

Camp Intellect is unique in that it is tailor-made for middle school students, especially those about to make the leap to high school. Wu, who started GA in 9th grade, and Wang, who came to GA in 6th grade, hosted camp for four days a week for two weeks at the end of June and beginning of July. Each class consisted of no more than 20 students and was led by an experienced, specialized high school student. Classes included papers, quizzes, and projects as well as engaging camp competitions that featured Team Hamburger, Team Hotdog, and Team Milkshake.

“It teaches crucial information to middle school students that allows them to succeed in their high school careers,” they said. “Our online lessons allow students to excel in all types of writing, develop a passion for scientific study, and become confident advocates and leaders. Our camp focuses on building a strong foundation for middle school students as they enter high school, so we designed our curriculum for students with one-plus years of middle school experience in mind. In fact, our student base is not just limited to the United States! Among the nearly 40 pupils we’ve taught, we have had students located internationally, all the way from Finland to China. Having such a diverse student body is an unexpected blessing, and it has fostered many strong friendships between our students.”

Wu served as the Lead Writing Instructor for “Write to Success!” Her classes covered various areas of academic writing. Topics ranged from the analytical essay to scientific papers to journalism to debate. 

Wang was the Lead Science Instructor for “Intro to High School Science.” He led introductory courses in biology, chemistry, and physics that promoted interest in and fostered a love for the scientific world. His course also looked into the world of standardized testing and briefly covered the ACT Science section. 

Both GA student-teachers also led discussion-based workshops focusing on the intricacies of high school life. To name a few, topics included “Life as a High School Student,” “Leadership and Taking Initiative,” “Time Management & Note Taking Skills,” and a lecture from Oliver Yao, the Associate Dean of Business at Lehigh University.

At the culmination of camp, they held a final celebration to honor the efforts of their students that included a featured speaker, a live debate, science research project presentations, and awards.

“Managing Camp Intellect definitely felt like a full-time job, but for us, it was completely worth it!” they said.

Stay tuned for Camp Intellect 2021!