Jay Woodward Creates an Exciting Camp Experience for Gifted Students

Written by: CEHD Communications Staff
Post date: April 22, 2010

Not everyone can keep up with more than 200 energetic middle and high school students for three weeks every summer, but it's a challenge Jay Woodward loves.

Jay, a lecturer in the Department of Educational Psychology, is the director of the Youth Adventure Program (YAP), a summer camp for gifted and talented children that emphasizes career exploration. Held on the Texas A&M University campus, it also teaches students about college life and Aggie traditions.

"It's like a Fish Camp for gifted kids," Jay says. "We offer program activities that really challenge their minds and social activities that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in back at school."

Jay works hard to provide a fun, engaging and educational experience for students. He also strives to create a safe, supportive environment where they feel free to explore and be themselves.

"A lot of these kids are the brightest kids in their schools. Their intelligence comes with ridicule. We make being smart fun," he says.

Jay earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Texas A&M, specializing in gifted and talented education. He started working with the camp in 1997 and became director in 2004 at the invitation of William Nash, who founded the camp. Jay's commitment to YAP will be recognized this month with the 2010 University-Level Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Extension, Outreach, Continuing Education and Professional Development. It is one of the highest honors given to Texas A&M faculty and staff.

"Every detail-from the moment students arrive with their parents to the closing celebration where students are recognized-is designed to provide students with a positive experience," says Laura Stough, associate professor in educational psychology. Laura's 13-year-old daughter has participated in YAP for two consecutive summers. "Teenagers and their parents frequently disagree-but we are in full agreement that YAP is the best camp of them all-and one that my daughter plans to attend throughout her high school years," she adds.