High School Students Thrive at Inaugural SCM Summer Camp

Over the camp’s six days, more than a dozen students from communities traditionally underrepresented in supply chain management learned about career opportunities in the industry.

August 1, 2023

High School Students Thrive at Inaugural SCM Summer Camp

The Haslam College of Business Department of Supply Chain Management recently hosted the inaugural Supply Chain Management (SCM) Summer Camp. Thomas Deakins, director of the Global Supply Chain Institute, characterized the camp as a triumph. “To say the camp was a success is an understatement,” Deakins said. The SCM Summer Camp took place at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, from July 9–14.

Over the camp’s six days, more than a dozen high school juniors and seniors from Tennessee and other states learned about leadership, college preparation and the benefits of a supply chain management major in sessions with SCM department faculty. Yemisi Bolumole, Ryder Professor and a leading woman in supply chain management, welcomed participants to campus, kicking off a week of learning from professors Sara Hsu about procurement, Justin Kistler about manufacturing and Alex Scott about transportation and logistics. The week closed with a keynote address by Jayson Sherrill, portfolio operations director for Ryder’s automotive, aerospace and industrial business.

Learning with Key Haslam Partners

Beyond sessions with faculty, camp participants also toured a Clayton Homes manufacturing facility in Rutledge, Tennessee, as well as a PepsiCo distribution center and Axle Logistics’ headquarters in Knoxville.

Organized in coordination with the Haslam’s Office of Community and Diversity Relations, the SCM Summer Camp was made possible thanks to the generous support of the department’s Supply Chain Forum partners Ryder, Caterpillar and Tractor Supply Company. In addition to sponsoring the camp, all three companies participated in learning sessions.

Ryder hosted a case study in which students formed four teams representing Vols Scout Corporate to develop the best Thin Mint cookies supply chain process for the Great Smoky Mountain Scout Troops. Wendi Gentry-Stuenkel, Caterpillar vice president of procurement, introduced students to the concept of supply chain management and met with high schoolers and Haslam students who served as peer counselors. Tractor Supply’s operations manager LaRayco Mayberry and transportation analyst William Burnette collaborated with Scott on a presentation about distribution.

Lessons and Experiences to Last a Lifetime

Nearly all SCM Camp students named the site visits among their favorite experiences. They also enjoyed team bonding sessions led by Haslam and SCM career staff, as well as interactive sessions on distribution, negotiation and manufacturing. Some of the student counselors gained insights from the camp, too.

Peer counselor Mali Tumusiime, a sophomore supply chain management major, job-shadowed during the Axle Logistics site visit and learned how supply chain managers and third-party logistics companies work in real life. Tumusiime found it valuable to not only learn alongside the high schoolers, but to also share his college experience.

“I wanted to share my college experience with others,” Tumusiime said. “As a senior in high school, I did a program similar to this one, and it really helped me gain a better understanding of what college is really about. I wanted to help other students experience that.”

Massachusetts student Michael Ku’s experiences meeting new people and exploring different companies are ones he will never forget. “I learned that there’s a story behind everything and everyone, even the Starbucks coffee that starts with a single bean in South America” he said. “Even we students all have a unique background that got us to where we are today.

“I’ve come to understand that there are also roadblocks for every company and everyone. But, like great supply chain managers, there is always a solution to be found. I understand this principle now and will use it in the future. The easy route may not always be there, but there is always another way to deliver your product, and the product, in this case, is you.”

The program taught Tennessean Marion Brewer III the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone when meeting different people.

“I learned how much better the world would be if we focused on what we had in common rather than our differences and used them to connect with one another,” Brewer said. “Another important takeaway I learned from this wonderful program was responsibility and accountability. This camp really challenged you while also providing us insight into the college lifestyle. Whether it’s getting to places on time, wearing the right clothes or even engaging in lectures and activities. Everything is on you. In the beginning, our mentors said that ‘you get out what you put in.’ I realize now that they were not only talking about this week but about life.”

“The program showed me that we have the ability to control our mindset and actions. Essentially, the purpose of this program was to teach students not only supply chain management skills but also how we must take accountability for every experience we go through. I’m so thankful for the opportunity.”

The camp taught Reagan Dale, a participant from Mississippi, how to overcome challenges she will face in the workforce. “I learned the importance of building a relationship with the people I’m around because I’ll never know what kind of impact they can have on my life or that I can have on theirs,” Dale said. “I was able to see the kind of future I want for myself and the impact I want to leave on the world.

“My biggest takeaway was learning about all the opportunities and jobs that are right in front of me. I also really enjoyed getting to know my peers. I’ve made bonds here that I hope will last a lifetime.”

Planning is underway for the 2024 SCM Summer Camp. Dates and registration information will be made available in January 2024. Further information on the camp is available at its website. If your company is interested in partnering with our team or sponsoring students, email gsci@utk.edu.

Relive the camp on Instagram.


Scott McNutt, business writer/publicist, rmcnutt4@utk.edu