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Home > Spotlight on Teen Camps: Journalism

Spotlight on Teen Camps: Journalism

July 9th, 2009

By Sarah Pride (pictures by Anne Ondrla)

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 338-8727

Back home from their week at Patrick Henry College Journalism camp in the middle of June, high-schoolers quickly began posting photo albums of the camp on Facebook and sharing their enthusiasm:

“My favorite part was writing stories and meeting new people,” says Anne Ondrla, while Gabriella Weiss enthuses that, “as always,” her favorite part “was the counselors.”

“I love spending a week with such amazing, fun-loving, incredibly wise college students, who are such good role models for us,” says Weiss.

The purpose of Journalism camp, says PHC’s Assistant Professor of Journalism, Dr. Les Sillars, is tri-fold: it delves into the technical basics of journalism; it provides a long peek into the Journalism major at PHC; and it serves as an introduction to the notion that (students) should “think Christianly” about being a journalist.

“Being a Christian journalist is really different than just being a journalist,” Sillars explains. “You don’t need to insert Bible verses into your stories, but you do need a sense of what God is calling journalists to do.”

In that aspect, camper Nainisha Chintalapudi says her week at PHC more than fulfilled her expectations. “I figured this camp would give me a glimpse into the profession [of journalism],” she says. “We learned about the ethical issues of journalism and how to apply our Christian faith in a profession known for its liberal outlook.”

Dr. Les Sillars at a scheduled "press conference"; students gather information to write stories

As Sillars says, “God designed us to know and understand the world around us. It is a wonderful service to society to help people see the world truly. For Christians who want to be ‘in’ but not ‘of’’ the world, we still have to know what’s happening ‘in’ the world.”

Counselor Ryan Gilles, a sophomore Journalism major at PHC, assisted campers during lab time, applying the skills and abilities he gained during his first year at college to help the high-schoolers with their research and web search engine skills. The experience was not only fun, he says, but it also reinforced and augmented his own knowledge of the craft.

But mostly, as always happens each summer, PHC camp counselors share a similar highlight: they simply enjoy the chance to touch the lives of younger people.

“My favorite part is having solid discussions with the girls in my dorm wing about living the Christian life,” smiles PHC junior Michelle Wright.

Speakers for Journalism camp included: Nathan Martin, a 2009 PHC Journalism graduate who is working for the Washington Post; a senior editor from USA Today; Dr. David Aikman, PHC’s Professor of History and Writer in Residence, who has written nine books and who was a foreign and senior correspondent for Time magazine for 23 years; and Edward Lee Pitts and Emily Bell from WORLD magazine.

Click on one of the pictures below for a larger version.