National Youth Science Camp Director Announced
John Giroir has been named director of the National Youth Science Camp, held each summer in Pocahontas County.
Giroir will remain at the headquarters for the National Youth Science Foundation in South Charleston, Kanawha County until early June when he and the staff will relocate to Camp Pocahontas, near Bartow.
Giroir attended the camp as a high school student delegate from Louisiana in 1989 and said that he fell in love with the beauty of the state.
“It’s literally 25 years ago that I was a student, so it’s not only an anniversary but a really special homecoming. I was lucky enough to work on the staff for a number of summers after I attended as a student so I got to spend some wonderfully memorable summers up there, but all I know is that it’s not very, very well known. I think it’s more well-known in West Virginia, but part of my job is going to be to really bring more awareness nationwide to the program and all that West Virginia and West Virginians have done to make this such a special program,” Giroir said.
The camp was founded in 1963. Two students are invited to attend from each state in the nation at no expense.
Giroir said he wants to bring more high profile speakers to the camp. In previous years, Neil Armstrong spoke at the camp prior to his mission to the moon as well as West Virginia native and Nobel Prize winner, John F. Nash, Jr.
“I think that is one way we’ll raise awareness of the camp, but also raise awareness of West Virginia. So many states right now are really scrambling to form STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) initiatives, and the thing is, this program in West Virginia, we were doing it years before even that term existed.”
Giroir plans to seek out alumni of the camp, who are successful in science, engineering, and technology careers.
“One of the alumni from Oregon years ago, I think he was 1969 camper, Dr. David Hackleman, worked with Hewlett Packard, and he was on the team that actually developed ink jet technology. So almost everybody’s got an ink jet printer now, well, he came to the camp, he’s one of the people who helped invent that and now it’s all over the world. So it’s little things like that, you don’t think about it, you just think about it if your printer doesn’t work or you need to go buy some more ink, but it’s amazing the topics that are covered and the types of science that folks are doing.”
He said the proximity to the Green Bank Observatory is a benefit to the campers.
“The other thing that’s really special about the camp is its proximity to NRAO, which I know now is being called the Green Bank Observatory, and for students to come into the woods and then all the sudden over the hills is this amazing technological marvel, especially with the 300-meter telescope that was built, the Green Bank telescope is absolutely amazing.”