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Camp Appalachia provides enrichment via history and culture

Camp Appalachia
Students learn about Appalachian music during last year's Camp Appalachia.

For the fourth year, the College of Education at the University of North Georgia (UNG) is holding an academic summer camp specifically geared for gifted middle school children.

Camp Appalachia, set for June 11-15 at UNG's Dahlonega Campus, features focused instruction from UNG graduate students and professors trained in the specific learning needs of gifted students as well as highly skilled masters of Appalachian arts and culture.

"Camp Appalachia is a great opportunity for local elementary students to learn more about the unique region in which we live, including its history and culture," said Dr. Donna Governor, assistant professor of science education at UNG. "For the teachers and UNG student volunteers who participate, this camp is a great opportunity to gain experience with advanced and gifted students in a unique, authentic learning environment."

Through creativity, problem-solving and inquiry, UNG's weeklong day camp will challenge gifted students to explore life in 19th century north Georgia. Campers experience Appalachian history, select group projects based on interest and bring those historical projects to life for the community.

The camp, one of very few summer offerings for gifted students in the region, is intended for rising third- through fifth-graders who have been officially identified as gifted and talented within their schools.

Camp Appalachia is a collaboration between the UNG Appalachian Studies Center and the gifted endorsement program, both units of the university's College of Education. UNG graduate students also providing instruction during the camp are pursuing a gifted endorsement, which requires 50 hours of field experience. While beneficial for gifted students, the camp helps UNG graduate students gain experience.

Caitlin Dalton of Winder, Georgia, is one of three UNG graduate students who will serve as instructors at Camp Appalachia. She anticipates completing her Master of Education in curriculum and instruction at UNG in December and is a fourth-grade teacher at Mashburn Elementary School in Cumming, Georgia.

"I am researching the science behind farming, and how the farmers in Appalachia used and developed their agricultural knowledge," Dalton said. "I am excited to address the needs of gifted learners in such a creative environment."

Dalton said the experience also provides 10 hours toward a teacher certificate endorsement in gifted education, and is helpful in fulfilling the course requirements of her master's degree.

A number of undergraduate student teachers also volunteer to assist with the camp and programs, including Violet Holcombe of Cumming, a junior majoring in elementary and special education at UNG.

At Camp Appalachia, I will be able to work with elementary age students and learn new ways to interact and teach," Holcombe said. "I am eager to learn from the educators I will work with, and hopefully bring some of the methods and activities I learn at this camp into my future classroom."

The week will culminate with a living-history inspired "museum," with exhibits prepared by the campers throughout the week; parents, families and the community will be invited to tour the museum housed at UNG's historic Vickery House.

The cost of the camp is $125, and includes all camp activities, supplies and a light snack; the camp will be held at the Historic Vickery House from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is available online through UNG's Division of Professional and Continuing Education.

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