Olympic memories

Olympic Youth Camp“We can’t have the world at our doorstep and not bring them here!”

That sentiment – first expressed by then-Dean of Students Tom Carver – served as the inspiration for the 1996 Olympic Youth Camp, which 20 years ago this summer brought the world to Berry for two unforgettable weeks. The camp – with roots dating back to the 1912 Olympics – welcomed 456 participants from 155 different countries to the Berry campus, which served as an official non-competitive venue for the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Cecily Crow Carries the Torch“Some participants were Junior Olympians; others were the children of prime ministers and kings.” recalled Director of Student Activities Cecily Crow (94C), a camp volunteer who also had the opportunity to participate in the official torch relay for the Centennial Games, bearing the famous flame through Berry on its way to the Opening Ceremonies in Atlanta. “I remember in one case a camper from a small country in Africa won a foot race, and that’s how he got to attend. For a few weeks in July of 1996, the Berry campus was truly a melting pot of the world.”

As the 2016 Olympics opened in Rio, four-time Greek Olympian and 1996 Youth Camp participant Periklís Iakovákis shared his recollections via Twitter. For Carver, who worked with then-President Gloria Shatto to bring the camp to Berry, the memories are equally vivid.

“In my mind’s eye, I see an indelible picture of 150 flags from around the world with ‘Old Glory’ waving in front, leading the way to the largest campus in the world,” he described. “It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my time at Berry.”

If you’d like to learn more about this unique event in Berry history, stop by Memorial Library this fall and check out “Olympic Youth Camp: A Cultural Exchange,” currently on display in the Berry Archives. Hours are 10 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

By Katherine Edmonds, philanthropic communications student writer

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