A group of students standing on WVSOM's campus

Anatomy camp gives high-schoolers in-depth look at human body

On the campus of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM), 15 high-schoolers got a first-hand look at the human body during the school’s second annual Clinical Anatomy Summer Experience (C.A.S.E.) camp.

The weeklong camp is designed to introduce young science enthusiasts to anatomical structures and their clinical importance through interactive activities. In addition to daily time in WVSOM’s gross anatomy lab exploring various parts of the body, students played a series of quiz-based games, heard discussions featuring WVSOM faculty members and worked on group projects, culminating in a demonstration of concepts they learned during the camp.

High school students ages 15 and older from as far away as Dayton, Ohio, participated in this year’s event, which took place June 24-28. Most campers were from West Virginia’s Greenbrier and surrounding counties, including Ava Stover, of Hinton, W.Va., a student at Summers County High School who signed up for the camp after seeing it mentioned in a newspaper.

“I’ve always been curious about what goes on in the body, and the camp gave me a hands-on look at things I’d been questioning for a long time,” Stover said. “I’d never seen anatomy in real life. I’d seen diagrams, but I wanted to get a deeper experience. I’d love to go into the medical field, and spending time in the anatomy lab and learning to properly use surgical instruments gave me a feeling of ‘I can do this.’”

Karen Wines, a WVSOM anatomy instructor who designed and leads the camp, said last year’s event served as a pilot program and that the 2024 camp was closer to how it will function in the future.

“We had additional funding this year that allowed us to increase the number of campers from 10 to 15 and made it possible for me to hire three medical school interns to help with the program instead of one. Last year’s pilot gave us time to think about how this should work, and this year’s camp is how I can see us operating as we move forward,” she said.

For 2024, the school received 39 applicants for 15 available spots, with selection partially based on the curiosity and professional aspirations expressed in the essays students submitted with their applications. Wines said the camp brings together young people from all walks of life who have an interest in science and medicine.

“The camp is about learning for the sake of learning, in an environment that isn’t graded,” she said. “We have a number of kids who are familiar with the path to medical careers because they are children of physicians, and we have others with no health care careers in their family at all. They’re coming together on the same playing field, finding commonality in realizing that there are people like them, that they aren’t alone in their interests.”

Above all, Wines said, the goal of the camp is to spark an interest in structures of the body and gain a greater appreciation for the human form.

“You have one body, and it doesn’t come with a warranty or an owner’s manual, so it’s your job to figure out what’s going on with it. When most people think of anatomy, they think of drawing in textbooks and posters in doctors’ offices. But when students actually get to see in person how there are so many layers and how everything is connected, it’s eye-opening for them,” Wines said.

The C.A.S.E. camp is supported through funding from the Jeanne G. Hamilton and Lawson W. Hamilton Jr. Family Foundation, FirstEnergy Corporation, the WVSOM Foundation and the WVSOM Alumni Association.