Flash to the Past: Grady Camp evolves

The beginning of Grady College high school summer camp did not start with the Georgia Center. It was an independent camp for 37 years and only coordinated journalism classes.

“We had been running the journalism academy for more than three decades as a college independently.” Dr. Joe Dennis said. “One of the goals that I had when I was a director was you getting some freedom to explore because part of the experience is getting to know the campus.”

Prior to working with The Georgia Center, the camp’s name was The Georgia Journalism Academy.This Academy was established back in 1982. Dennis was the director from 2005-2015. He explained his technique and goals on how he led this camp for 10 years. Dennis tried to give campers time to explore and have time for themselves. Freedom was needed for the classes itself, as students conducted interviews with professors, students, local businesses or citizens in Athens for research about the pieces they were writing.

“The whole camp was a journalism camp and the classes were broken down into different beats of journalism,” Dennis said. “If a couple students needed to go across campus to interview whoever, we could call up one of those eight counselors to transport them.”

The Georgia Journalism Academy was run by 8-10 undergraduate students to take care of the campers. They would live with the campers in the dorms and help transport the campers all around campus. Since it was a journalism camp, campers would go and interview people for their stories. These stories could be anything from sports to features to editorial writing. Broadcasting, photojournalism and advertising were also offered.

 “Some of the people who have gone to this camp are now in big places, who work in media in CNN, ABC,CBS, doing PR for big companies now,” Dennis said. “I think the camp was a huge influence for high school students to see what their interests are early on to help them figure out what they want to study when they get older.”

This program offered six types of different journalism genres to study and explore.The more campers learned about the majors they could study, the more it helped with their long term career choices. Real people who have experienced this camp are now a part of huge companies and are thriving in the journalism field.

“If there’s any student who’s on the fence on whether they want to be a part of journalism, they need to come to this camp because it just furthers that passion” said Jack Patterson, a former camper. “The curriculum was awesome, I learned so much from my professors.”

Patterson went to the journalism camp in 2008 and 2009, and is now a professional journalist working as a sports anchor and reporter at CBS-affiliate WRBL News 3 in Columbus, Georgia. Patterson described his time in Grady camp as “Incredible. I have friends from the camps that are friends for life.”

He also explained the activities he got to experience: bowling, go carting, exploring the campus, and a banquet in the press box at the UGA Stadium. Patterson offers some advice to current campers: “Be resilient, there will be so many no’s but you have to bounce back.”

The camp has changed significantly since Patterson attended, in part due to its partnership with the Georgia Center.

“The Georgia Center runs the logistics so the dorms, food and activities,” said Stephanie Moreno, scholastic journalism outreach coordinator for Grady.

One thing that has changed due to the partnership is the out of class activities, which are no longer run by Grady. In a sign up sheet for the camp published in 2015, it showed that camp activities included rollerskating, a cookout, a pool day, a closing banquet and other outdoor activities.

Compared to that schedule, some of this year’s campers say that the current camp feels “unorganized” and “restricted”.

“I wish I would’ve know how strict the camp would’ve been before I signed up for it,” said Adriana Acevedo, a 2022 journalism camper. “It just felt like there was so much miss communication all week.”

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