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Frequently Asked Questions about SCATS

All times CDT.

What classes are taught at SCATS?
The overall course selection changes every summer, although some classes are taught multiple years in a row. We provide a diverse curriculum that include the arts, the humanities, mathematics, and science. Students accepted to SCATS will receive course descriptions a few weeks before camp; from a list of about 30, students rank their top 10 choices and are scheduled in four, which they attend every weekday. Past classes covered acting, math, chemistry, computer coding, ancient civilizations, rocketry, debate, robotics, Russian folklore, and more. The courses for 2023 have not yet been determined.

How many students are in each class?
For an optimum teacher-student ratio, classes are capped at 16 students; some classes will have fewer than 16.

Who teaches SCATS classes?
About half the teachers are drawn from the WKU faculty and outstanding area teachers; the other half are teachers in the WKU graduate program who teach at SCATS as their graduate practicum. All teachers want to work with high-interest and high-ability students and understand how to create courses that challenge and excite gifted and talented students.

I've been overwhelmed by how awesome these students are. They do amazing work and are so excited about learning. I've loved getting to know them.
Johni LeCoffre, 2019 SCATS teacher 

What’s neat is that the pace is a lot faster. For one lesson, I had prepared all the scaffolding to get them to a certain point, but as soon as I put up the first prompt, one of the students went right to where I wanted them to end up. It was wonderful.
Annie Starnes, teacher at SCATS 2020

What is the daily class schedule?
Each camper takes four classes every weekday during the two weeks of SCATS. The academic day starts at 8:45 a.m. and concludes at 4:15 p.m.

What is a typical day like for residential campers?
On a typical weekday, campers go together to the Downing Student Union (DSU) to eat breakfast around 8 a.m. They then walk to their first class, which begins at 8:45 a.m. They go to lunch together between their morning and afternoon classes. When classes end at 4:15 p.m., they walk back to their residence hall to check in with their counselors and hallmates and have unstructured time at the residence hall before dinner. After dinner, unless there is a special event, campers choose from a wide range of Optionals, small group activities run by the counselors. Optionals change nightly and offer everything from Capture the Flag to chalk art. The day ends with community time, and lights out is around 10 p.m. Near the end of camp, campers attend and/or participate in a talent show and enjoy a banquet and dance.

On the weekend, campers eat and relax together, do laundry as needed, attend a worship service if they choose, and participate in special camp events where they meet new friends, learn treasured camp traditions, and make memories.

When not in class, campers are always under the supervision of our counselors.

What makes SCATS courses different from classes during the regular school year?
First, SCATS classes allow students to discover, follow, and develop their academic passions. Teachers offer courses on topics not typically found in school, and they shape their courses around students’ interests rather than a required curriculum. In addition, students are motivated by their desire to learn rather than grades.

Second, surrounded by high-ability peers who want to learn, SCATS students are exposed to a cooperative learning environment. Here, there is no competition over grades or class standing, and there is no worrying about carrying the label of “the smart kid.” Class discussions are enthusiastic and thoughtful, and whether working independently, in a small team, or as a whole class, each SCATS student contributes to and benefits from a positive learning experience.

My first two lessons took most of the first week to complete because the students got so into it and asked so many great questions. The lessons have been taking longer, but in a good way because of the depth that we're getting into.
John Alexander, 2019 SCATS teacher 

Can SCATS accommodate a student with special needs?
In most cases, yes. We have experience working with students who require assistance getting around campus, have dietary restrictions, need specific learning accommodations, have ongoing medical conditions, and/or have other special needs. Please contact us directly with any concerns or questions by emailing Elizabeth Joyce at elizabeth.joyce@wku.edu.

How long has SCATS been around?
SCATS, originally called the Summer Camp, was launched by The Center in 1983. Thousands of young people from across the United States and from many foreign countries have since participated in the program. We are proud that for more than 40 years, we have met the needs of high-ability middle school students for summer enrichment experiences alongside like-minded peers.

Is there a code of conduct? 
SCATS participants and their parents are asked to sign a code of conduct that states that the camper will abide by the rules of the camp and by the standards of conduct set forth by their teachers. It also stipulates conditions for use of the Internet. The code of conduct also states that campers may not leave campus unless a parent/guardian has made prior written arrangements. Finally, it emphasizes the severe consequences — being sent home without refund of registration fee — if a camper is found with tobacco products, illegal drugs, or alcohol or if a camper endangers his or her own health or welfare or that of others. This code of conduct exists to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

How much spending money should campers bring?
Campers will need money only for laundry (quarters), miscellaneous items from The WKU Store, and snacks from vending machines in campus buildings (optional). Please do not bring large amounts of money.

What arrangements are made for campers arriving by plane?

Please schedule your camper's flight to arrive at the Nashville, TN, airport on the first day of camp between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. (CDT). On the last day of camp, please schedule your return flight to leave from the Nashville, TN, airport between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (CDT). There will be a $200 charge ($100 each way) for transportation by chartered bus or van to and from the Nashville airport.

If your airport arrival and departure times do not fit our guidelines, we can arrange transportation with an airport limousine service. The cost will be $100 each way.

Payment for airport transportation will be due by May 15.

Will students have access to their cell phones?
Camp is an opportunity to make lasting friendships and learn from opportunities in and out of the classroom. Each camper may bring one cell phone, which will only be used to communicate with parents. Campers will give their phones to their counselor at check-in. Phones will remain with the counselors, who will determine when short calls may be made. Daily calls will not be possible because the activity schedule varies, and calling times will not begin until after the first three days of camp. Any cell phone not checked in will be taken by a staff member and returned at the end of camp. No other devices that connect to the Internet or make calls are allowed. Parent(s) and the camper will sign a form at check-in verifying that the camper has no such devices with them.

For campers concerned about letting go of their devices for two weeks, consider this comment from a camper: “The fact that cell phones aren’t allowed makes everyone interact face to face, and it’s more fun than if they were allowed!”

How can campers receive communication?

By mail
(Mail must be addressed as follows; it may be lost if addressed any other way)
Student’s Name
c/o The Center for Gifted Studies, SCATS
Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd. #71031
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1031

Mail is delivered to the office five days a week, Monday through Friday. Counselors will distribute mail as campers return from class each day. Receiving mail is special for campers, and letter-writing instead of calling is encouraged. For some young people, this experience will be the first extended period away from home. Parents are encouraged to write positive, supportive letters to help students get the most out of SCATS.

By phone
In an emergency, parents may phone the office at (270) 745-6323) between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (CDT), and a staff member will arrange for your child to call you. After office hours and on weekends, you may call the front desk of Florence Schneider Hall at (270) 936-2711 to leave a message.

Please leave your phone on at night, so we can contact you in the rare event that it might be necessary.

What if campers get homesick or have roommate troubles?
Homesickness and roommate adjustment issues are not unusual, especially during the first few days. If your child expresses such concerns, please contact the office so that together we can help your child have a positive and successful experience.

If you have questions not addressed here, please feel free to contact us via email at elizabeth.joyce@wku.edu or by calling (270) 745-6323.

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 Last Modified 1/27/23