A lot of things happened during CTY... but first I want to say that I am blown away by the place. The "experience here is just so powerful that we as teachers can't help but feel excited about this whole thing." That was something that I wrote in my personal journal. And, apparently, I'm not the only person who feels this way:
we sat around small tables sharing ice cream, like we shared dinner, like we shared our laughter, and marveled at how, after only a week, it seemed like we had all known each other for years.
But what I remember about it, rather than what I see in retrospect, has nothing to do with social mobility. It wasn't about what would come after education. It was the sheer joy and amazement at being around kids my own age who were not only not hostile to the desire to read and learn and think, but who shared it themselves. I didn't leave CTY thinking that continuing to go to places like that would earn me money someday; I left knowing that I'd been happier there than I'd ever been around kids my own age, and that it was possible for "smart kid" to mean something social other than "kid to get beaten up." (It wasn't an awful school system; really. I didn't get badly beaten up or get anything broken or turn into a Columbine Kid. But it was pretty consistently unpleasant.) There was geekiness as well as nerdiness to be had-- I played my first D&D at CTY-- but sharing cultural or recreational tastes wasn't as important as, well, the sharing a taste for spending one's summer learning algebra.
I wish, for more than one reason, that I was back there.