Toasting S’mores and Preparing for the School Year


Abhishek Tripathi

Taken and provided by Abhishek Tripathi. Counselors sitting together at evening time.

Lauren Benton

One of the many programs College Park has to offer is the Academy of Science and Technology, in which many students endure a challenging but enriching curriculum that staff members and students alike can take pride in. Over summer break, while many students and teachers were at home and taking a well deserved rest after a tiring academic year, the freshman Academy class of 2026 was able to attend and participate in this year’s Fish Camp, which took place in Huntsville.

But what exactly is it? Similar to Texas A&M’s own Fish Camp, the Academy’s Fish Camp is an opportunity to hear more about what the Academy of Science and Technology is and learn its values, and like any other summer camp, enjoy fun activities such as basketball and water polo. Dr. Susan Caffery, headmaster of the Academy of Science and Technology, put together these pastimes.

“There were things where they’d have to balance on a log or walk through a maze of ropes. They’d have to depend on each other,” said Dr. Caffery. “Learning to ask another student for help is hard, and that is something we work on continually. It’s okay to ask for help. You don’t have to be the best and the brightest at everything, because you’re going to find that you’re not. They’re used to giving help, but not asking for it.”

Additionally, the camp hasn’t always occurred in Huntsville. It was only in the previous year that the Academy switched gears to Forest Glen, where air-conditioned cabins are provided among other amenities. Before the change, they were camping out traditionally at one of the lakes nearby.

“The location has changed,” Dr. Caffery said. “We had a lodge for the girls and a lodge for the boys, including female and male teachers, then a dining hall, and they had counselors that would work different activities with them.”

It appeared that anyone could sit happily around a campfire and make delicious s’mores alongside the other campers. What makes Fish Camp a success, however, isn’t only the incoming freshman. Upperclassmen were able to become camp counselors by submitting an application and resume.

“It’s a great opportunity for leadership, because as a counselor, your job is to look after your fish (freshmen), to give them advice about the Academy, what it’s like,” said senior Kimmy Shen, a counselor at Fish Camp. “Personally, I wanted to be a counselor because I really wanted to meet the incoming Academy class, see what they’re like, maybe befriend some of them.”

Aside from jovial memories regarding the camp and the experience it gave, the most common sentiment was that there would be positive aftermath from Fish Camp on the freshmen’s first year of high school.

“In junior high school, it’s easy to do everything and make an A. Coming to high school, there’s an abrupt change: now you’ve got seven periods and assignments in every class. Keeping up with the sheer volume of everything is a daunting task,” Dr. Caffery explained.

Thanks to Fish Camp, it seems the transition to a more challenging environment has been made easier. When she visited the freshman classes at the beginning of the year, Dr. Caffery could see the calmness in their faces, and believes they are prepared for the year ahead.

“What I enjoyed at Fish Camp was probably the activities. I think I got the most out of it because I got to meet a lot of the people. I think that was the most important part of it, because when I walked in on the first day of school, since like half my classes from the Academy, I knew a lot of people.” said freshman Adeela Law, an attendee of the camp.

Three weeks into the year, College Park wishes good luck to the freshman, hoping their first nine weeks of high school and beyond are first-rate experiences.

“I’m really excited for their school year. I think they’re gonna have a lot of fun.” Shen said.