The OWjL Program grew out of a two-year study by a task force formed by the Junior League of Columbus. This task force determined that there was a critical need for talented and gifted education for seventh through ninth graders because:
OWjL’s first program was held on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University in the summer of 1981 and consisted of two one-week sessions of camp. Because of the need expressed by teachers, counselors, and parents, the 1984 OWjL Program was expanded to include 6th grade students in addition to the original 7th, 8th, and 9th graders. Consequently in 1985, an additional one-week session was added to the existing two one-week sessions. Attendance continues to rise each year. In 1993, OWjL eligibility was limited to 6th, 7th and 8th grade students and 510 campers participated in the program.
OWjL welcomed more second generation campers in 2019! OWjL is proud the tradition continues in central Ohio families.
"It is important to me to share with you our daughter's experience at OWjL camp was truly amazing. She returned to us with a deeper sense of confidence in herself and with an attitude that it is cool to be smart. She made lasting friendships and memories with fellow campers. I think her experience is best summed up by the mantra that she repeats - 'I can't wait to go back.' "
– Parent of OWjL Camper
"Over the past three years, OWjL has given me so much; it has taught me to be proud of who I am and not be afraid to be myself, it has shown me how to make friends, and it most of all has given me a home to always come back to."
– OWjL Camper
"I believe OWjL was central to my son's re-connecting with his better/higher self... even at the tender age of a sixth grader. He had a lot of goodness poured into him prior to camp. But I believe OWjL helped to catalyze such qualities in a more enduring and sustaining fashion. So probably like many parents, I want you to know how grateful I am in helping my boy come of age. Your work is sacred and treasured by so many of us who have benefited from the many hours you have invested in the program."
– Parent of OWjL Camper
"Before OWjL camp, I was a shy introvert with little, almost nonexistent interest in anything other than academics. Even though I more than enjoyed burying myself in books and studying, I was socially isolated from all the students who could not understand my passion for books, learning, and many other subjects; this included my own family to an extent, for both of my parents were constantly occupied with their jobs. OWjL Camp for this reason was someplace I desperately needed, and that is why I will be eternally grateful to you for helping to send me where I can be with people I can relate to and socialize with.
OWjL has helped me in more ways than one. First of all, it made me realize I am not alone in my obsession with academics and there are numerous children who do not share a strong social bond with the people around them. It helped me realize that my uniqueness and individuality is what ties me to the people around me, not what separates me.
Secondly, OWjL gave me a variety of classes that inspired and challenged me: from Bluebird Trail Management to Building Creativity to making journalism come alive in HOOT: The OWjL Magazine and Murder in the Chem Lab, I learned about courses that are offered only in high school and higher education.
Finally, it taught me self confidence through interactions between new friends and conquering new skills and challenges. I am a thirteen-year-old girl from Jones Middle School who never thought she could cross so many cultures, ethnics, and beliefs and bond with people in each - and that is exactly what I have done with your help. I am so thankful that I was given this opportunity, and I hope that you will give aid to other gifted children so they too can share this amazing experience."
– OWjL Camper