WKU holds annual summer forensics institute

Since the 1970’s, one summer forensics camp at Western Kentucky University has been helping kids with their confidence, as well as teaching them how to find their voice as future leaders of our country. For the kids that attend, their love of forensics started for a variety of reasons.

"I just really like talking in front of people," said camper Caroline Meyer. "I thought it would be a really cool thing for me to do."

"I just did it as a competition speech elective, and I thought it was very fun," said camper John Blastos, who flew in all the way from California for the week long institute.

"I love talking, and I love arguing," said Molly Arnold, and returning camper who’s heading into eighth grade in the fall. "Then I found out that it was competitive."

That love and passion for this activity has driven these middle and high school students from across the country to attend WKU’s annual Summer Forensic Institute.

"One of the things that I love about what we get to do is to help students realize that their voices are important," WKU Director of Forensics Ganer Newman said.

During the eight day camp, students participate in a variety of activities from debate to extemporaneous speaking to orations, often working on projects from the morning to the evening, with the ultimate goal of the SFI being to teach kids to ask questions about the world around them, and do so in a confident manner. 

"What we’re trying to do is help students really reason and challenge the general assumptions of things," said Newman. "Just to get people to open up their minds a little bit."

"If we can get people sort of comfortable with coming out of their shell and presenting in front of people, then that really opens up the door to more creativity," said California camper Dillon Cook.

"Everyone needs to learn how to have a voice, talk in front of people, and really make changes," added Arnold.

While learning new skills and harnessing the ones they already possess is important, most of the campers said that their favorite part of the whole experience is the forensic family they create in just a few short days.

"I’ve really liked the community aspect of it," Cook said. "Everyone is so close knit. It’s really a great experience having not met these people just a few days ago, flying across the country, and being great friends."

At the end of the week, all the students get to perform their project in front of the rest of the campers, as well as take what they’ve learned here and bring it back from school competitions in the fall.