If your still in high school with a interest in anthropology you should consider going to Appalachian State’s Forensic Anthropology Camp. I know, because I did
Because I was a late bloomer and didn’t discover my love for anthropology until my junior year, I was actually one of the oldest kid there in the summer of 2016. Just a few months before I would go to school at ISU. I also had to do the June camp that year, because if i went to the July camp I would have been to old to even apply. But luckily, I found the camp opportunity just in time to apply and participate just before I started college.
When my mom and I first got there I knew I was going to have a good time. The campus was beautiful and the scenery was like nothing Illinois could offer. You could tell the people where as interested in anthropology as I was. And could actually have a conversation about something like balanced polymorphism and its correlation with natural selective pressures for the heterozygote of sickle cell anemia in parts of the world like Central Africa. And no one would bat an eye.
Throughout the week I worked with other campers, Counselors(grad students at the school), and the one and only Dr. Schung. A well know bioarchaeologists and professor at App State. And we got to work with real human skeletons and learn basic human osteology, like sex age ancestry, and stature. Also skeletal evidence for trauma, starvation, and infectious diseases. Once we learned all these techniques to read bones and someones life we where split up into groups and each given a case to solve and reconstruct the life and manner of death from our skeletal remains. And then present it to the camp and see how much we got right.
From the specific case we got we where able to tell our suspect was male. From the robustness of his skull and the shape and angle of his pelvis. His age based on his dentition, all his epiphyseal fused and advanced osteoporosis we determined he was sixty plus years old. Based on his facial features he was of European dissent. And that he stood around five feet eight inches. Based on the healed injures like his Salter Harris Type 1 Fracture on his left Tibia, and the amount of muscle markings on his long bones suggested he lived a very active lifestyle. He also had DISH on his spine and some ribs which can happen at old age. The lack of trauma on his body and his old age we assumed he died of natural causes. We presented our findings to the camp and at the end like everyone else after we presented got to know the true identity of there individual. And we where right on everything except cause of death. He actually died of cancer which was present in the ribs but was hard to distinguish between the Dish which he also had.
On the last day ,which was the most eventful day for me, we went into the woods(just pick a direction) and was tasked with finding FAKE skeletal remains underground. We split up into groups again and was assigned a general area where the remains would be. one spot looked suspicious for it was sagging a bit as if the soil has been turned awhile ago. This is where we learned to the surveying and excavation techniques. Which weren’t that much different from the techniques I learned at camp CAA the year before. The biggest difference was the rate of digging. I was internally having a meltdown when I saw people thrust their shovel or trowel inches deep. Almost like they were stabbing the ground. This was very different form my time at CAA where the process was slow only going centimeters deep. Looking for the tiniest pieces of flint or pottery. I asked one of the councilors about this and she agreed, but in a forensic setting time was sometimes not an ally so the rate of digging was faster. I did go down once people actually started hitting bone and realized they should slow down a bit.
When everyone was done digging up there skeletons groups took turns looking at what other groups had found. But apparently someone had disturbed a wasp nest(yellow jacket) and when I turned to leave I felt an extreme pinching in my leg and when a look down a see a wasp jabbing its stinger in my leg! I’m not allergic but instantly I knew this would wreck the rest of my day. I told one of the councilers and it turned out i wasn’t the only one and we all left for the nearby clinic. Also luckily no one was allergic and so nobody needed any care. So once the professor made all the calls the the parents to let them know we left the clinic the professor now driving us and me riding shotgun. Luckily I made this crap situation into a positive. I had the rare opportunity to talk to her and ask her questions and also tell her about the CAA camp which ironically she brought up since I went there the summer before!
So the day wasn’t a total loss. And If anyone is serious about physical anthropology then you should consider this camp. It has probably the best hands on experience opportunity for high school students using real bones. You get to be around people your own age with the same interests. And the grad students and professor have a wealth of knowledge, With the grad students having immeasurable knowledge on what it’s like to be a anthropology student and what to plan for for your specific interests in the department.
http://www.appalachianbioanth.org/Camp_index.html – For more details on this unique camp.