By Jeannine Finton, SAME STEM Coordinator, Guest Contributor

Adversity. Enthusiasm. Inspiration. Those were the words SAME National President Rear Adm. Mark Handley, P.E., F.SAME, USN (Ret.), used during his visit to describe this year’s Engineering & Construction Camps. As with last summer, the pandemic continued to present challenges. Only the Army and Marine camps were able to resume in-person activities this summer; however, campers were able to join the virtual camp sponsored by the U.S. Naval Academy through their STEM Center. All together, 92 campers attended the in-person camps, while another 55 attended the virtual camp.

At the in-person camps it was hardly business as usual. At Camp Lejeune, for example, campers needed to be housed in a hotel on base rather than in the barracks due to COVID restrictions. The unexpected cost to do so, however, was quickly covered, as Camp Director Joe Angell, P.E., F.SAME, noted: “As usual, the SAME family came through and by word of mouth and friends talking to friends, we found a STEM account within the U.S. Marine Corps that could pay for the rooms at our Engineering and Construction Camp. The number of people involved in making that happen was amazing and impressive.”

The Army Camp also experienced challenges with the short-notice implementation of the Juneteenth holiday that fell during the week of the camp. “Fortunately, after a flurry of calls by our curriculum chair (Samantha Lucker), all of our staff and instructors committed to following through to keep that Friday’s activities as planned,” Camp Director Henry Dulaney, P.E., F.SAME, said. “Also, our host facility was in the midst of a COVID mission which had more guardsmen in the building than normal. However, they were still very gracious hosts and made sure that their day did not start until after we left in the morning and their day ended prior to us returning to the facility.”

Keeping campers and soldiers safely separated meant that campers couldn’t use the mess hall as in past years. While this cut down on the camper-soldier interactions that are an important part of the camp experience, it also allowed camp directors to explore new options such as box lunches.

Weather forced several changes to the schedule at the Marine Corps camp. A severe rainstorm struck as campers were in the final stage of testing their trebuchets. Rather than allow the torrential rain to deter them, however, the campers persevered and tested the trebuchets in the rain. No one faltered or complained. They just stuck to the task and brought it to completion.

Even in the rain, the campers exuded enthusiasm. Operating in squads with assigned mentors and military squad leaders, the squad members drew inspiration from each other.

The 2021 camp season may have been unique—but it was a success, as SAME Posts, camp staff, and mentors exemplified overcoming adversity with enthusiasm, which in turn inspires youth to do the same.

Enriching the STEM Pipeline for the Nation

Goal 4 of the 2025 SAME Strategic Plan is to lead efforts to inspire, encourage, and enable youth to pursue STEM careers and help develop the technical capacity that our nation needs to remain globally competitive. SAME is meeting this goal through a number of initiatives and programs such as Post and National Engineering and Construction Camps, student mentoring, K-12 outreach, scholarships and sponsorships, and local and national organization partnerships.

STEM outreach is critical for America’s economic future and security. As SAME moves into its second century, we will continue to leverage our strategic positioning as one Society of vibrant Posts to make an impact at both the national and local levels. To learn more about our Engineering & Construction Camps, submit an application for the upcoming year, or get involved as a volunteer, visit our camps website or the Camps Community of Interest.