Cougar Quest sets standard for success

Photos by Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Services
Article and SoundSlides by Robert Frank, WSU News
Music by Joe Satriani, “If I could fly”


Cougar Quest summer camp student

Cougar Quest
by the Numbers
  • 171 students attended junior high week
  • 183 students attended high school week
  • 60 students each week benefitted from GEAR UP Grants
  • 112 students have attended more than once
  • 38 junior high students attended more than once
  • 74 high school students attended more than once
  • 2 students have attended 6 times
  • 6 students have attended 5 times
  • 11 students have attended 4 times
  • 18 students have attended 3 times
  • 24 students are entering their senior year in high school
  • 1 student from Hong Kong attending for a second time

PULLMAN, Wash. – Type “summer camps Washington state 2013” into a Google search and in 0.20 seconds up pops a walloping 396,000,000 results.

So, how do you know if a summer camp is mediocre or fabulous? In the case of Cougar Quest 2013, there are a multitude of indicators that shoot it to the top of the best lists.

Approximately one in every three attendees, 31.6 percent, is a returning student, and some of those have come back three, four, five, even six times. Plus, every student interviewed and observed seemed enthusiastic and engaged.

Cougar Quest is Washington State University’s annual residential summer camp designed to motivate academically inclined students, grades 7-12, and to provide them with a glimpse of college life and the WSU campus.

“It’s a lot of fun, you meet a lot of new people and it gets you out of your comfort zone,” said Oliver Gano, a three-year veteran from Bothell, Wash. “There’s always a variety of new activities and classes to choose from.”

“Every class and activity is so interactive and challenges you to think,” said Reilly Morgan, a second-year student from Maple Valley, Wash. “The counselors are always positive, fun and helpful. It’s just a great atmosphere, with lots of activities to choose from and where you can be yourself … and have a mature conversation if you want to.”

This year’s schedule offers classroom activities, including 27 different academic topics from anthropology to Japan, Shakespeare, microbiology, anatomy, music, veterinary science, computer science, writing and cooking. But not everything is academic. Social and recreational abound as well, including a murder mystery, capture the flag, sports, visits to the WSU University Recreation Center, etc.

During the week, students live in a residence hall and eat in a dining center, making for a precollege experience.

“My favorite thing to hear from campers is, “I really thought I wanted to go to UW, but after coming here and being on campus and meeting Coug students (counselors), I want to come here!” said Lainy Hanson, Cougar Quest coordinator. “We make future Cougs, and I am so proud to be a part of this program.”

Peri Dropping, a four-year veteran, substantiated her comments, noting “friends who’ve come with me, who were not planning to go to college, change their minds and do plan to go after a week” at Cougar Quest.

Students aren’t the only ones enthusiastic and returning. While many of the student counselors vary from year to year, faculty and staff members often return to enjoy the energy and enthusiasm.

“I think every year is so different because the staff always has something new to offer the camp,” said Linda Schoepflin, director of WSU’s summer session and in her 13th year with the program. “Each year our counselor selection gets better and better. They bring so much energy and great ideas for our campers, and every year is better than the last.”

This year’s Cougar Quest will complete on Friday, July 26, at which point the planning for next year’s activities will begin.