Thursday, March 20, 2008

Domestic disaster and School Scam

This morning, I busted my ass to get two loads of laundry done before it was time to leave for my 9:30 class. Our dryer is broken, and before I left, I got all of the first load, and some of the second, hanging on the clothesline. My bedsheets looked so clean and white, flapping in the sunshine and the brisk breeze. Off I went to pharmacology, where I took an exam and then sat through a lecture on drugs used to treat hypertension. How I hate the nursing school practice of giving lectures immediately after exams! Anyway, I got home by noon, looking forward to making my bed with clean white sheets that smelled of fresh air.

What did I find? The high winds had popped one of the clothespins off my bottom sheet and it was no longer flapping whitely in the breeze. It was now hanging forlornly by one corner, its other end dragging through the mud. The brisk breeze helped ensure that the sheet scoured the mud not unlike a brillo pad on a sink. I had to rewash it, and rehang it and what happened? The clothespin popped again, and once again the sheet was dragged through the mud, although this time, I noticed in time to prevent the sheet from becoming thoroughly dirty.

Then Mr. McP came home from school with a fat, calligraphy-ed envelope. Inside was a letter on blue paper with a gold seal at the top announcing the National Center for Early Academic Excellence National Young Scholar's Program. The gold seal looked vaguely presidential, and I noticed this organization is based in Washington, DC and thought that Mr. McP had been recognized for academic excellence. I read the letter aloud to Mr. McP, which told us he'd been “nominated” by his reading teacher to attend a week long enrichment camp in Bethesda, MD this summer. I wondered if it was something like the Virginia Governor's School, which my daughter Drama Queen participated in, and which was a great experience.

As I read on, however, I began to get suspicious and my growing suspicions coincided with Mr. McP's growing excitement. This is no special recognition for kids who “demonstrate exceptional maturity, scholastic merit and leadership ability.” It's the biggest bunch of bullshit I've ever read.

“Age has never been a barrier to is often easy to identify at an early age those who have the potential to serve as future leaders...We are convinced that, in an atmosphere designed to stimulate the creativity, wonder and curiosity that is the gift of childhood, we can also challenge and motivate these young scholars to begin purposefully developing their natural ability to lead, to achieve and to excel...We have been told Mr. McP has the maturity we seek, as well as the strength of character and leadership ability that will enable him to get the most out of this unparalleled opportunity...Upon your son's successful completion of the Program, he will receive the official National Young Scholars Program Certificate of Achievement. You may also request a press release to distribute to your local media....The NYSP curriculum was developed under the direction of Dr. Donna J. Snyder...[with] a Master's Degree in School Administration and Curriculum Development and holding a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction ...NYSP has applied for accreditation to the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools...NYSP daily dress attire includes sold shorts or pants, preferably khaki, a solid white or navy blue top...Acceptable shirts may include a solid button-down short sleeve, button-down long sleeve, solid nave or white T-shirt or polo shirt...Tuition is $1,970 for six days.”

Included was a short letter addressed to “Master Mr. McP” telling him how special he is, and how if he enrolls in this program he can chose one of three “Discovery Strands” to study: Crime Scene Investigation: The Amazing Science of Detection, Going Green: Quest to Save the Environment, or World Explorers: Discovering People, Customs and Cultures. There was also a copy of the daily schedule which includes “Leadership Group Meeting, Discovery Strand Meeting, a Teambuilder activity, a thirty-five minute “recreation time” another Leadership Group Meeting, and, after dinner, “Evening Team Time.”

What a lot of puffed up nonsense!

My tuition for an entire semester of nursing school (ten credits) was $823.

The letter also told us that eight children from Mr. McP's school had been nominated. This is Jackson-Via. Do you think there are eight kids at Jackson-freaking-Via whose parents can afford $2000/week summer camps?

Parents of Charlottesville, would you send your child to a six day camp that cost $1,970, not including the expense of getting him to Maryland and picking him up six days later. Parents are also cautioned to send their child with money he'll need for souvenirs and “extra toiletries.” (How many toiletries does a nine year old need for six days?) Anyway, would you send your child to this camp that offers vague, dubiously enriching leadership meetings and lessons on “world cultures” or “crime scene investigation”?

The worst part of all this is that Mr. McP, who was very excited about the whole thing, overheard me telling Jon that I thought it was a scam.


  1. There is no chance whatsoever that I'd send one of my children to that camp. It's too expensive and, considering the age of my girls, too far away. In fact, my elementary school age children at not going to sleep-away camp yet and I bet that most children that are aren't either.

  2. I can't believe the similarity. I had the exact same letter sent to me when I was in middle school (southern virginia). Researched it, and indeed it was a scam.....took several phone calls to find this out. Man, I can't believe they are still doing that? People must really fall for it.