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Additional History:  Complied by Marla Smith, Co-Founder/Project Director


While teaching junior high science at IGS, I was approached by Sue Renken.  She asked if there were any science camps for young children as her son was very interested in science.  There were none.  She said, well let's create one.  I had thoughts previously of developing some day camps in the summer to provide hands-on science educational opportunities for children.  The summer provides different opportunities for learning than a classroom setting.  So, it seemed like a natural fit.  We each brought our strengths to the project and S.C.O.R.E. (Science Camps Offer Rewarding Experiences) was born.  I must admit, my vision was on a smaller scale than Sue's.  I was thinking of day camps in the park, she was thinking week long camps offering programs for 1-8 graders and providing learning opportunities that students would not normally be exposed to, especially living in a rural community.  She set out to bring NASA to camp the first year.  When they said their schedule was full, she sent flowers to the Director for his birthday and believe it or not....yes, NASA brought their space mobile and aerospace education specialist to S.C.O.R.E. They actually asked to return the next year.  They came several times after that.


Sue Renken began making preparations to establish the Imperial Grade School Foundation and a 501 3c tax exemption status.  Once established, the IGS Foundation needed a project........S.C.O.R.E.


Willard Rouze of Imperial gave us the name... S.C.O.R.E. which represents Science Camps Offer Rewarding Experiences. 

Together Sue and Marla created an multi-award winning program not replicated anywhere else in the state or nation. 

First S.C.O.R.E. Camps
          -166 Imperial Grade School students grades 1-8 attended the camps

          (only IGS students were invited the first year due to funding, personnel, and no previous experience developing such a camp.)

          All campers and volunteers receive camp t-shirts

          Camp Dates:  June 12 - 16  (8 - 11 a.m.)  1-2 Grades  $10
                                                       (1 - 4 p.m.)   3-4 Grades  $10
                                 June 19-23     (8 - 4 p.m.)  5-6 Grades   $20
                                 June 26 -30    (8 - 4 p.m.)   7-8 Grades    $20


For the past several camps, the enrollment has been limited to 330 participants, grades 1-6.  There is always a waiting list. Though there has been many changes as S.C.O.R.E. has grown through the years, the goals of providing unique and exciting programs and activities to stimulate young scientists and inspire them through hands-on experiences has not.  Camps are now limited to provide small groups and costs to students are kept as low as possible to provide opportunities for all students to attend.  

Cost in 2017 & 2019:  $110

Concepts that have not changed: 


Sponsored by Imperial Grade School Foundation that is now known as Chase County Schools Education Foundation

S.C.O.R.E. is supported by:  1.  Grants   2. Donations  3.  Camp Tuition

1.  Importance of Community Support:  Much of the success of S.C.O.R.E is attributed to the Imperial community and its continued support through the school, funding through grants, donations, and gifts, thousands of volunteers,  numerous teachers and professionals sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm, campsites, housing, providing food and snacks, and the list goes on and on.  It takes a "special community" to be able to support a program such as S.C.O.R.E. year after year.

Payback projects to the community:  As a thank you to the community, SCORE has tried to give back by the camper's payback projects or providing an "Open House" for everyone of all ages to attend the many outstanding programs brought to SCORE.  A few of the payback projects include:  2 butterfly gardens, nature trails, tree trails, planting trees and shrubs, starting the recycling program in Imperial now managed by the City, environmental projects and numerous free programs.


2.  Emphasis on hands-on, inquiry based science in all areas of science including conservation and environmental education.

3.  Small group numbers so all can experience seeing, touching, investigating and participate in the activities

4.  Small group sessions that participates rotate through each day

5.  Outreach Programs:  Large group sessions which are open to the public.
           Programs have included:  NASA, Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center; Henry Doorley Zoo, Riverside Zoo, Nebraska                  and Colorado Raptor Recovery Centers, Hawk Quest, Denver Children's Museum, Edgerton Explorit Center, Wildlife                          Encounters, NE Strategic Air & Space Museum, Yo-Yo man from Hawaii, Doc Gizmo, and CAPOW to name only a few.


6.  Amazing scientists & master teachers: Many have come from across Nebraska as well as many outstanding local teachers, presenters, and volunteers who inspire and motivate young people through hands-on science.

7.  Outstanding young people: students from grades 1-8 over the years have attended from the entire state of Nebraska and on the average 8-10 other states have been represented; KS, CO, IOWA, S.D. WY, Hawaii, Alaska, CA, AZ, NM, TX, Virginia, to name a few.

8.  Staff:  An outstanding and experienced staff are assembled each camp to organize, plan curriculum, & provide a wide variety of learning opportunities.

9.  Volunteers:  It takes hundreds of volunteers to make the program a success.  Volunteers have always been a key to the program's success.  They provide supervision and student needs, assist scientists and presenters, help with equipment and supply needs, camp setup and facilities, transportation, snacks, assist Camp Directors, and the list goes on.  The camp could not exist in its present format without the help of hundreds of volunteers each camp year.

Volunteers are VITAL to the success of SCORE!

10.  Camp sites:  Chase County Schools have been the headquarters for SCORE since it' beginning.  However, students spend as little time indoors as possible.  Over the years campsites have included:  City Park, the prairie, the river, Enders Lake, Champion Lake, Swinging Bridge Ranch, Memorial Park and Wine Glass Ranch.  Field trips to other sites around south west Nebraska have also been part of the camps.

11. The commitment to strive for excellence over the years continues through the efforts of those committed to S.C.O.R.E., its philosophy, and its continued success!


From 1989,90,91,92,93, S.C.O.R.E. was held each summer.  In 1995,

the camps were offered every other year.  Format for the camps: 

(number of days, length of days, number of weeks)

Students :  Originally students in grades 1-8 were in attendance, 

In 2009, the camp changed to students in grade 1-6 only.

After 26 years, Marla Smith retired from her position as

Project Director and Curriculum Director following the 2015 camps.

In 2017, Kim Spady and Charlesa Kline took on the challenge of producing

a camp that ignites the amazement of science within students.

Kim Spady and Charlesa Kline; Camp Coordinators were all ready to preform a skit for the whole camp with Astronaut Clay Anderson in 2019.
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