"GEAR UP" stands for "gaining early awareness and readiness for undergraduate programs," and that's just dozens of Hamilton County urban middle school students have been doing for the past two weeks. Camp GEAR UP is being held at the Tennessee National Guard camp in Tunnel Hill, and is hosted by UTC.
Although it's not a military camp, the National guard atmosphere provides a good backdrop for getting up early, staying fit and learning the value of teamwork.
Director Hunter Huckabay describes it as "A setting for success, whether these students are headed for college or the workplace, they will need to learn to work within a team."
The camp also includes regular school work, including English, math and summer reading programs. What could have been a wasted summer for some students, is now a time for challenges.
The program provides a summer experience the students will long remember. They make new friends, learn new skills and realize they're capable of meeting goals they never imagined. It all takes place in a setting free of distractions, designed to help them focus on their future.
The program is in the third year of a seven-year funding cycle with support provided by the United States Department of education.