Katie Drake is a Gifted and Talented Educator, Lone Star Leadership Academy facilitator, and serves on Education in Action’s Board of Educators. She received the following inquiry from the parent of a nominated student: “My son has been invited to participate in the Lone Star Leadership Academy this summer and I am hoping you could give me your input as you are listed on the Board of Educators. He is currently a 5th grader, and as I am in secondary education, I have never heard of this academy nor anyone who has attended from my district. I am hoping you can give me some insight and “confidence” in sending my son on a trip for a week with a group of people I don’t know. (I hope you can understand my concern!)”
I'd be happy to tell you a few things about the camp.
I first found out about the camp as a parent when my son was nominated in 5th grade. I learned more about them by visiting the website and visiting their booth at the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented Annual Conference. My son went to the Austin trip that year.
I liked the way it was run and decided I wanted to have some of the experience myself, so I asked to become a staff member... of course there was a rigorous process (all staff are certified teachers, background checks are completed, and interviews are conducted).
I have worked with the camp for five years, my son has attended twice, returned as a youth counselor and participated in a school-year opportunity for community service.
During each experience I've found the organizers (former teachers themselves) to be above the board when it comes to planning the trips and transparency with parents. They will answer any questions you have before and during camp. You will drop off your student at the camp site and can take a look around, you'll meet the teacher/counselors. The students do not bring phones with them (the same as many other camps), but you will see daily pictures and you can call the director any time to check on/speak to your child if you feel the need.
I guess, bottom line, I would not stick with the camp for so long if I did not see the value (leadership and TX knowledge) and safety (1:10 or better ratio while traveling and always at least two adults in the dorms) and travel opportunities (think of it as a tourist trip packed with the best places, private tours, and private guides).
I encourage my own students to attend. If you have more questions, please ask. Also, the camp organizers are very nice and would be happy to answer detailed questions.
Katie Drake, Gifted Education, Copperas Cove ISD