Whether it was in the air, under the water or on-top of it, Regent University’s Government Camp showed high school students just where careers in law enforcement or the military might take them. The week-long series of carefully planned adventures drew students from as far away as Texas to the Hampton Roads area to interact with professionals from these fields.
“Preparing the next generation of leaders in criminal justice, government and the military is key, especially as the United States continues to play a leading role in world affairs,” said Dr. Josh McMullen, assistant professor in the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS). “Government Camp helps to introduce students to these areas in order to better prepare them for these fields. They need to be aware of the academic, political, personal and moral challenges that come with these fields. We believe Government Camp plays a key role in doing this and preparing a new generation of leaders.”
Kirstin Clayton, special projects manager for the College of Arts & Sciences, has been working with military, police and other government-oriented sites around the Hampton Roads community for months. She arranged for students to visit Fort Story, Langley Air Force Base, the U.S. Coast Guard, Academi, Little Creek Naval Base, Norfolk Naval Station and the Virginia Beach Police Bomb Squad.
“I think the thing people don’t realize is how awesome it is and how really unique it is,” said Clayton. “You can’t really do any of the things we did away from this trip. You can’t just go to a military site and say, ‘Hey, I want to do a tour of a boat!’ You have to go through security measures. Because we’re with Regent, we have a camp, and we’ve done it for so many years, we’ve built that foundation, and so people know who we are and it gives kids access to things they really wouldn’t have access to.”
The camp also brought guests to Regent’s campus for demonstrations, including forensic scientist Helen Lake, Virginia Department of Forensic Science, and special agent Hank Crawford, Virginia State Police.
“We did a polygraph test, saw the process behind it, interviewing and how much thought goes into it,” said Sam Riordan, government camp student. “They test for sweat, breathing with a weird cord they wrap around your waist and how all of those factors can determine whether you are lying.”
“We learned about forensic science and how to solve crimes using laboratories and chemistry,” said Olivia Osborne, another camper. “We pulled fingerprints using molding and rulers and even more basic equipment than what I would have guessed. Everything is super high-tech, but it’s more hands-on than I would have guessed.”
Some of the hands-on adventures outside of the classroom included guiding divers, working with parachutes and training for altitude.
“I’ve always considered a career in the military in general and did government camp because it’s really laid out a lot of different government agencies that I could possibly seek as a career path,” said Christian Ward. “They really do give a really good taste of each section to see whether it could be the right thing for me.”
Ward says he’s looking forward to pursuing a career with the US Marines. He says Government Camp helped confirm his interest in this area of service, providing him the opportunity to disassemble and reassemble weapons at Fort Story, along-side Marines. He advises future students to allow the camp to influence their career ambitions.
“Be open to anything,” said Ward. “Be open to different career paths and different jobs within the government… because you really do get to see all of the cool things that happen that you don’t really think about most of the time.”