Early in the morning on Thursday June 27, more than 80 excited high school students and teacher-coaches converged on Kenan dorm in Chapel Hill. Some had been on the road since 5 a.m., yet their enthusiasm was palpable. What inspired them to devote three days of summer vacation to an intense academic activity? Mock trial, of course! These eager students and teachers were about to experience the very first CCCE 3-day summer mock trial camp. While some were looking to refine their skills in the Advanced sessions, many Basic level campers weren’t entirely sure what mock trial even was‚ but they were about to find out!
Judges, attorneys, and legal consultants shared their knowledge in targeted sessions on trial preparation (Openings, Direct Examination, etc.). These sessions were interspersed with hands-on breakout groups, in which the teams of students put their new knowledge to use by preparing for a concluding criminal trial scrimmage. College “mockers” with experience at the highest levels of high school and collegiate competition mentored each team, guiding students in their preparations and giving them confidence in their new skills.
On Saturday, eight teams of students “showed their stuff” by arguing for either the prosecution or the defense. Even with the abbreviated preparation time, many students‚ including Basic level teams!‚ confidently delivered openings and closings without the use of notes. Objection battles were adroitly argued, and witnesses gave convincing portrayals even under withering cross examinations. At the end of the day, the students and their proud families were thrilled by all they had accomplished!
As they packed up to leave Chapel Hill, the campers and teacher-coaches raved about their experience. One evaluation survey proclaimed, “This camp was so well laid out and organized. The three days were amazing! So much information, so quickly, yet not overwhelming. The staff has been so encouraging and helpful. The college students have been excellent mentors to the young people. This has been a wonderful experience!”
On Thursday July 11, a smaller but equally enthusiastic group of students and teachers converged on Methodist University in Fayetteville. Designed for day campers only, the Fayetteville camp was targeted toward Basic level students. After attorneys and mediators taught students the basics of trial preparation, the campers prepared their case while mentored by young attorneys and students in the Legal Studies program at Methodist University. On Saturday, proud family members were amazed as they watched the students confidently display their new skills in their concluding trial! Thanking the camp staff as they prepared to go, many proclaimed that they can’t wait for the release of the regular-season case on September 3rd. Survey evaluations were uniformly positive, with comments like the following: “I had an amazing time! My favorite instructor’s presentation was exciting and drew me in. I’d come again and bring friends with me!”
I had a wonderful time meeting students and teachers from across NC at the camps. Seeing their enthusiasm and confidence grow as they began understanding and applying their new knowledge was exciting indeed! We look forward to continuing and even expanding our mock trial summer camp program in 2014.
MANY THANKS TO ALL THE VOLUNTEERS WHO MADE THE CAMPS POSSIBLE! We could not have held them without you!