By Ashley Peterson
The classrooms that should be full of debate, competition and learning all this week are empty.
BYU”s Diplomacy Camp would have focused on introducing high school students to new cultures and opening their minds to world issues. Due to low enrollment however, the camp is canceled for this year.
“This is the only camp like this,” said Stan Swinton, diplomacy camp director for 2004. “Other colleges don”t do things like this. There are lots of academic camps, but none that are focused on international issues. There is nothing to compare us to.”
Swinton had high hopes for the first year of Diplomacy Camp. The proposal for the camp was approved in March and advertising didn”t start until April. The camp staff visited several schools in Utah, Arizona, California and New York. They handed out fliers at high school conferences. They also set up a Web site.
Despite all advertising efforts, only 20 students signed up by May. The camp was planning on 100 students.
“There were lots of students who were interested, but we got the information out too late,” Swinton said.
So the camp was canceled but the staff is already trying again for next year.
In order to ensure that Diplomacy Camp takes place next year, the staff plans to start advertising next month.
“We didn”t get the word out to the parents,” he said. “We talked to lots of students and teachers, but hardly any parents.”
Diplomacy Camp hopes to provide a rich academic and interpersonal experience that will foster a global perspective as well as develop important individual leadership skills, according to the Diplomacy Camp Web site.
The students will receive an assignment to a given nation and throughout the week they will debate from the point of view of that country, Swinton said.
Several workshops will take place during the week, covering five main topics: leadership foundation, local side of global issues, culture matters: understanding the world, skills of parliamentary debate and trends in international relations.
Guest speakers planned for this year”s camp included foreign ambassadors, successful international business and law professors, BYU faculty and others working with the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies.
Diplomacy camp is a weeklong, 24-hour experience. When students are not in workshops and seminars, various activities and events also take place. The events include an outdoor games of the world night, a cultural showcase spectacular, an international cinema movie night, a diplomats” reception and a formal dance, Swinton said.
The Kennedy Center sponsors the Diplomacy Camp. It also sponsors Model United Nations, for high school students. This one-day event took place in January, where high school students from all around Utah Valley came to compete.
In addition, the Kennedy Center visits various schools, ranging from kindergarten to high school, in their International Outreach program. The program focuses on making students aware of other countries and cultures.