High Goals, High Success

Posted on August 4th, 2010 by

by Hanna Schutte ’11

It might look like a typical camp: high school students spending a week on campus, trying out the dorms, getting a taste of what college might be like, and honing a skill.

But that’s where the similarities stop. While most camps are based in athletics, music, or faith, Gustavus has a unique offering—speech camp.

The Gustavus Adolphus College Summer Speech Institute (GAC-SSI) began three years ago with 32 campers. This year, there were 98, making GAC-SSI the second largest such camp in the nation. Students from North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Washington, Kansas, and Minnesota attend—a testament to the interest in the camp and the quality of the Gustavus program.

The camp is the brainchild of Kris Kracht, Gustavus director of forensics and communication studies professor. Instead of taking a full summer break from forensics coaching, advising, and teaching, Kracht instead shares his passion with high school students.

Gustavus director of forensics and communication studies instructor Kris Kracht leads warm-ups at the 2010 Summer Speech Institute. (photo by Maggie Hedlund '09)

“I want to provide high school students with an opportunity to hone their communication skills outside of the high school season,” Kracht says. “Athletes can play in leagues and attend camps all summer, but speech students have limited to no opportunities to participate in the activity they love.”

Kracht also speaks about what GAC-SSI does for Gustavus: “Minnesota has had a long, storied tradition of producing nationally recognized forensics competitors. Our vision is to make Gustavus the center for forensics training and competition in the nation. If a Minnesota student wants to stay in-state and compete in college, I want Gustavus to be the top choice. We are attracting students from a broader audience, extending the scope of the campus and our recruiting base.”

Kracht’s passion for forensics coaching has yielded much success. The Gustavus forensics team has won three consecutive state championships and recently placed 10th at the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament, after placing in the top 20 at the 2009, 2008, and 2007 tournaments. The team has also enjoyed multiple successes with individual speakers.


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