Summer camp for gifted starts in Clear Spring

July 25, 1997


Staff Writer

CLEAR SPRING - A statewide summer education camp that revolves around major attractions in Maryland has made its way to Washington County, adding a dimension of Civil War history and Potomac River beauty to the week-long course.

The Maryland Summer Centers, for gifted students, is held at 14 locations in the state, and is set in a variety of backgrounds, from aboard ships in the port of Baltimore to marshes in the Chesapeake Bay.

This year, the Maryland Summer Centers started at the Fairview Outdoor Education Center in Clear Spring, giving students a taste of life in Western Maryland. Sixty-seven students in the local camp, called the Center for Cumberland Valley Explorations, are divided into different areas including aquatics, earth science, arts and social studies.


Students in the aquatics course spend the week dipping insect larvae and protozoa out of the Potomac River, while the social studies class takes trips to Antietam National Battlefield and Gettysburg National Battlefield to get a sense of the Civil War.

A theme that runs through all the areas is the use of high technology, according to Rebecca Bell, one of the instructors.

Students in the aquatics class are learning how to take photographs of the organisms they catch and transfer them to the school's Web site, and youngsters in the social studies class are reading letters from Civil War soldiers on the Internet to enhance their knowledge of the Civil War, said Bell.

The Maryland Summer Centers are designed to give gifted students long periods of time to study subjects that interest them, something that is not always possible in a conventional classroom, said Bell.

Cyrus Warren's preoccupation has been drawing, and Bell said he demonstrates strong art skills for a 10-year-old. But Cyrus said he often is told he cannot doodle while studying other subjects in his school in Pocomoke, Md. On Thursday, he spent the morning drawing detailed pictures of dinosaurs, which were then projected on the ceiling of the school's planetarium for his classmates to see.

"All the people there are real nice," said Matthew Chen, a Hagerstown student who is in this year's class, which is funded by a $20,000 grant from the Maryland Department of Education. Students also pay a $250 fee.

Students can come from across the state, depending on which Maryland Summer Center they want to attend, said Bell. About a dozen students in this summer's class are from Washington County.

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