Virtual summer camp will teach high-schoolers about careers in health care

This year’s edition of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine’s (WVSOM) Just Say KNOW educational summer camp will focus on a subject that couldn’t be more timely: pandemics and other medical crises, and the roles various professions play in combating them.

“Just Say KNOW to Combating a Pandemic: Careers in Medicine” will take place from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. EDT the week of June 14-18. The camp is open to ninth- through 12th-graders and recent high school graduates who are interested in learning about science and medicine, and students enrolled in home schooling at an equivalent level also may attend. The program is directed by Crystal Boudreaux, Ph.D., a WVSOM assistant professor of microbiology, and co-directed by Karen Wines, M.S., a WVSOM anatomy instructor, with the assistance of medical students and undergraduate interns.

Like the 2020 summer camp, Just Say KNOW will be conducted virtually this year. Wines said an advantage to an online learning environment is that it allows young people to participate from any location.

“By being virtual, we can reach more students, including those in very rural communities,” she said. “Last year we had rural students from Colorado, South Carolina and Pennsylvania who would not have been able to come to our campus. Additionally, teleconferencing technology is improving, which will allow us to plan activities to make the camp even more robust this year.”

This year’s theme was partially chosen based on the responses of students who took part in previous camps, Boudreaux said. Students will learn about how the basic sciences are integrated across the full spectrum of health care fields.

“We surveyed students who have attended for several years, and they showed a strong interest in the topic of different careers in medicine,” Boudreaux said. “Then the COVID-19 pandemic came about, and there are so many careers that contribute during a pandemic — not just medicine. Many disciplines play a role in helping people recover during and after a health crisis.”

Wines added that, as with past Say KNOW camps, interactive events such as games and trivia competitions will make up a large portion of campers’ activities. Additionally, guest speakers will provide presentations on a variety of health-related topics.

She said the Just Say KNOW program allows WVSOM to reach science- and health-minded high school students and connect them with others who have similar aspirations.

“Students have been isolated during this time, and this is a way to bring them together,” she said. “In rural areas, you can’t always find people who have interests in common with you, and as a result you might think you’re alone in your thoughts. The camp gives people an opportunity to find like-minded peers.”

Students who wish to participate must register by May 1 by submitting a brief essay about their interest in the program to Crystal Boudreaux at and Karen Wines at There is no cost to participate, but campers will need an Internet connection during the hours the event takes place. Prior to the start of the camp, attendees will receive a “care package” containing materials needed for the activities.

Just Say KNOW is sponsored by WVSOM’s Rural Health Initiative and the WVSOM Foundation. Previous camps in the series have included Just Say KNOW to Drugs, Just Say KNOW to Infectious Diseases, Just Say KNOW to Anatomy and Just Say KNOW to Neuroscience.

Date Added: 
Thursday, April 29, 2021