September 04, 2013 - Anna Gray spent her summer exploring the outdoors and meeting people at a month long camp.
The 2013 Clarkston High School graduate represented Michigan as a delegate to the National Youth Science Camp, June 26-July 20, joining 121 other high school graduates from the United States and nine other countries.
"It was cool because a lot of the other students were accomplished," she shared. "They were all really successful and down to earth."
It wasn't just the people she met making the experience fun but the different activities she was able to do every day. They did a lot of hiking, caving, rock climbing and mountain biking - which Gray admitted was a surprise.
"We didn't do what I thought we would do which was research in a lab or doing scientific discovery," she said.
They also attended lectures and directed studies led by top scientists and professors from all over the country. Some of this year's topics included cancer research, genomic medicine, radio astronomy and energy sustainability.
"A cool thing about the camp is from a day to day basis you didn't know what was going on," Gray added. "The staff member keep it a surprise and on your toes."
Some of the experiences will live on in her memory such as when the staff members dressed up as Jurassic Park characters and led Gray and her group through a field. Then, the group walked into a caver where they turned on generated lighs and a country singer came out.
"We had this cool concert," Gray shared with a smile. "They did a lot of cool things like that."
They also went caving during an overnighter and two staff members led Gray and five others through a cave.
"We went through tiny holes," she recalled. "It was the second darkest cave in West Virginia. It was cool. We had our headlamps and we went sledding down because it was so muddy."
She ended the camp with a trip to Washington, D.C., as she and others met with senators and toured around the city.
"We met a lot of cool people who were willing to help us when we get to college and work with us," Gray said.
She added the experience will help her as she heads into college.
"It made me more independent," Gray said. "Plus, not knowing what you are doing and just going with it. They gave us a lot of different option on hiking trips and directive and directive studies. You learned as you went through the camp you do what you want and enjoy it. It's about doing the best you can.It was great to make use of all the opportunities and bring them to their full potential. "
She described it as being put int the middle of an intersection with different directions to go into for options to do. But not having to chose one road.
"You can combine all of them together," Gray said, '"and go straight up. The sky is the limit. It is how it felt. If we like everything there is a way we can make it work."
Each state choses two delegates to represent their state at the camp. The camp was recommended to Gray by her biology teacher and freshman golf coach, Pat McMillen. Her chemistry teacher, Lukea Kovanis-Wilson, helped out by writing her a recommendation letter.
"Each played a huge role in my selection," Gray said. "I would recommend this camp to every high school senior. I hope more teachers get to know about it. You learn to make your own opportunities and make your own path to go."
She continues her education this fall at University of Michigan, dual majoring at the College of Engineering and is a pre-admit for the Ross School of Business.
"It's exciting," she added.
For more information, visit www.nysf.com.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.