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On Friday, January 15, an excited mass of students and teachers “flew the Hawk’s nest,” boarding two buses destined for Deer Creek State Park. These fifty-six participants in the Concept Young Scholars Program and twelve of their dedicated mentors were eager to spend the next two days bonding together in the pursuit of accomplishing an assortment of the students’ CYSP goals. After feasting on pizza, the students spent their first night at camp crushing their high-scores on video games, watching movies in their cozy cabins, or boogying the night away at an all-girls dance party.

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On Saturday, the students immersed themselves in two sessions of Character Education, participating in, and even facilitating, group discussions about empathy, friendship, and the importance of embracing constructive criticism as a tool to help achieve success. The climax of the afternoon was irrefutably the boys versus girls scavenger hunts, two events in which teams of students had to solve complex math equations, translate clues written in Turkish and Spanish, and collectively sing a popular Adele ballad before claiming victory. Students enjoyed hiking along Deer Creek’s scenic trails and loved the gorgeous view of the Deer Creek reservoir. The day concluded around a bonfire, during which students made s’mores and practiced teamwork by helping keep the toasty flames aglow!

The air buzzed with excitement on Sunday morning as students and their mentors bundled up in preparation for a day of snow-tubing at Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield, Ohio. This culminating activity was a brand-new experience for the majority of our CYSP students; everyone absolutely loved it! Horizon Science Academy Columbus Middle School even helped set a seasonal-record at the resort by forming a tube-train that was forty participants long. In the words of an excited seventh grader, it was “tube-tastic!”

However, after three hours of play-time in the bitter cold, our crew was more than happy to return home to the warm, waiting arms of their families. It was a fantastic weekend that the students and staff have been fondly reminiscing about ever since. After all, when fifty-six CYSP students spend their time outside of the classroom under the guidance of their mentors, they are sure to have a good time. When fifty-six CYSP students and twelve mentors embark on a wooded, weekend adventure, an unforgettable experience will certainly be shared by everyone!

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