They came from Japan, Korea and Qater in the Middle East, as well as from across the country, to Austin, Texas to attend the Summer Wonders summer camp sponsored by ACE Academy (for gifted children). Last summer over 450 children from PreK though 10th grade absorbed the wonders of Summer Wonders.
The program has been voted “Best Summer Camp” in Austin by the readers of the Austin Chronicle for five times, including the last four years in a row.
The program was founded by Karen Langdon, M.Ed., a trained psychologist, in 1999. In an interviewed by Victoria Rossi in Austin Woman, “Langdon, became a presence at her daughter’s principal’s office, returning time and again to discuss why school was not working for her (gifted) daughter. In fourth grade, the first year of standardized testing, things got really bad. After six weeks of studying for the TAAS (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills), I watched her disintegrate into an angry, depressed child, hating school - the place she should love the most.”
That summer out of desperation Langdon took her daughter from Austin to Worlds of Wisdom and Wonder, a Chicago-based program for gifted students founded Dr. Joan Franklin Smutny at National-Louis University. Within two weeks Langdon’s daughter blossomed again as the curious, confident child who had faded away in regular (public) school.
With Dr. Smutny’s blessing, Langdon started Summer Wonders in Austin, Texas, modeling it after the Chicago program.
In ten years, Summer Wonders has grown to serve 450 gifted students, three year olds though tenth grade, every summer.
At Summer Wonders, every year the feedback from families included comments such as "Why can't school be like Summer Wonders?" and "Why can't we have fall, winter, and spring wonders?"
In 2005, the founders answered those questions by forming ACE Academy.
Public schools usually offer programs for gifted students that range from pullout programs, to one or two gifted classes, to “clustering” gifted students together in regular classes. These measures often aren’t enough for students who are gifted “all day every day”, Hulsey wrote in Tempo magazine.