Student chooses Drury thanks to summer camps

Aaron Sawyer begins his college career at Drury University this fall. But unlike most incoming freshmen who’ve spent perhaps a day or two on campus prior to move-in day, Sawyer has spent the last six summers here making memories with truly like-minded friends.

The Sikeston native is one of hundreds who have attended Drury’s summer camps for academically gifted students since 1981. The camps give kids like Sawyer a chance to be around others who are equally as bright, curious and engaged.

Aaron Sawyer

“It can be difficult” to be a gifted kid in school, he says. “You almost feel like you don’t want to talk for fear of being different.”

The camps are for students from pre-K to 12th grade and are divided by age groups. The camp for middle school students (called Summerscape) and the camp for high schoolers (Drury Leadership Academy) are wrapping up this week. Programs for younger students took place in June.

Sawyer began coming to the camps in middle school. He’s taken classes on digital photography, philosophy, speech and debate, the human body, Rube Goldberg machines and more. He’s made great friends, too.

“You’ll make friends here and come back next year and continue a conversation you left off last summer like no time has passed,” he says. “It’s a unique experience I feel like you don’t get many other places.”

Sawyer says being away from home in a college-like environment has helped him come out of his shell.

“If I hadn’t been (coming to the camps) for this long, I probably wouldn’t be able to give this interview,” says the soft-spoken Sawyer. “I would have been way too nervous.”

Sawyer plans to double major in history and education and hopes to become a college professor. He chose Drury before his sophomore year in high school.

“I feel like (Drury) has invested a lot of time in me and I’ve invested a lot of time here,” he says. “It almost felt like there wasn’t a question that I wouldn’t go here.”

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Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.