Wyoming camp a peak time for King

Summer vacations are usually filled with a wide range of camps for youth to attend. But Amber King’s summer experience might be a little different for the inevitable “What I did this summer” essay at the beginning of the school year.

King was selected as one of only 18 students internationally to attend a natural sciences camp held by Teton Science Schools in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

King, daughter of Mark and Tina King, is a junior at Hillsboro High School this fall.

“My family all went to Yellowstone to Jackson Hole for Christmas break,” King said. “We were at the travelers’ center and there was this brochure that I saw that I was interested in.”

The brochure of interest was for the Field Natural History camp, which took place in the Jackson Hole area from July 9 through July 29.

“We had to get a teacher recommendation and write an essay about why we wanted to go,” King said. “We had to include something about an environmental issue that we were worried about.

“I just sent in an application and got accepted.”

King described the program as a “science, outdoorsy camp.” It is set up for youth across the country, and is meant to teach and strengthen skills in recording natural history and science through journaling and art.

“In science, when you want to show someone your observations, (the camp) shows you how to write about it and draw it and illustrate it,” King said.

“We did a lot of journaling, watercolor, and a lot of hiking, camping stuff and outdoor skills.

“I was one of the oldest ones there,” King said. “There was one kid who was 17.”

The lowest age at the camp was 14-year-old students who were going into their freshman year.

The camp took place in several locations. The first week was on the campus of Teton Science Schools. After that, King said they camped at a research station in the mountains. Finally, the last week was spent in Yellowstone National Park.

“It was all over,” she said.

King said that she didn’t do much to prepare for the camp.

“I was kind of clueless,” she said with a laugh. “But I learned how to pack tents well.”

The higher elevation of the mountains proved to be a problem for the first few days, according to King.

“At first, for everyone who didn’t live up in the mountains, the altitude was really high, and there was like no air,” she said. “We were going on these six-mile hikes, so we were all dying the first few days.

“But after a while, you got used to the altitude. It was OK after that.”

King described the 18-day camp as “jam-packed.”

“Most of the time we got up around 6 (a.m.),” she said. “A couple of times we had to get up at 4. Then we’d eat breakfast. Sometimes we had to cook our own breakfast over the fire.

“Then we’d usually go hiking at some point during the day, and learn something about science. And every day they tried to do a journal prompt, where we would spend a lot of time by ourselves journaling.”

A highlight of the camp for King was the rodeo the group attended.

“That was really cool because Wyoming rodeos are really hardcore, I guess,” she said.

“And then we hiked up to Mount Washburn, and that was a really long hike,” she said. “It was really cool up there. And the whole week in Yellowstone was fun.”

What was one of the things that King enjoyed the most?

“We went out to this valley and we got to see this whole pack of wolves,” she said. “So that was really neat.

“I enjoy being outdoors, obviously,” King added. “If you don’t enjoy being outdoors, it would probably be a problem,. One of my friends there didn’t enjoy the outdoors, and she hated most of it.”

The skills that King brought back from the camp will probably end up benefiting her in the near future.

“I’ve been interested in geology for a long time,” she said. “Like working with volcanoes.”

“There’s not many (colleges) in the U.S. that offer volcanology, so it’s really limited,” King said.

King is already working toward a future career by taking the chemistry and earth and space classes at Hillsboro High School this year.

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