The University of Northern Colorado's summer enrichment programs for gifted and talented children will celebrate their 35th anniversary July 21 with a reunion of students, teachers and counselors.
The evening of reminiscing and re-connecting in UNC's University Center Panorama room will include a reception, silent auction, banquet and dancing.
More than 14,000 high-ability students from 25 states have attended two-week, age-specific enrichment camps that socially and academically challenge participants. The camps are offered by UNC's Center for the Education and Study of Gifted, Talented, Creative Learners, and are among the longest-running ones of their kind in the nation.
Many of the participants attend multiple years, and some of them are second-generation campers whose parents participated in the program as children.
The Young Child Program for 4-10 year olds helps form a base for the way children think and develops the curious and creative habits they show during a two-week day camp.
The Summer Enrichment Program challenges 11-16 year olds who take four, 75-minute courses each day; the Leadership Enrichment Program, for teenagers 16-18, helps students understand their own personal talents while developing traits and characteristics of leadership. Both are two-week residential programs.
Center director George Betts, who started the SEP in 1979, is still involved today.
"The Summer Enrichment Program is an environment built just for these kids and their unique ways of thinking," said Betts. "The affective part of the program is what's really moving, because you see the kids come into their own and feel like they belong."
"I suspect that my experience is not dramatically different from most other gifted children," said Carrie Henriksen Kelly, 33, who attended five SEPs. "SEP gave me what I didn't find again until adulthood: a peer group and a sense of normalcy."
This year there are 52 children in the Young Child Program, 170 in SEP and 22 in LEP.
For more information on the reunion visit http://www.unco.edu/cebs/sep/reunion_celebration.html.