As the 2003 National Geographic Bee Champion, Williams was awarded a U.S. $25,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership to National Geographic, and one week at Sea World-Busch Gardens Adventure camp, presented by corporate sponsor ING.

He and the other state winners were taken to the White House to watch the helicopter land and President Bush disembark, wave at the crowd, and disappear into a building. Another fun part of the bee is the picnic held after the preliminaries. After a week of hard work at the geography bee, and being in the National Science Olympiad in Ohio the week before, a picnic was just the thing James needed to relax and have fun, spending down time with his new friends. At the Olympiad, his team placed 24th overall and he won 9th place in the map reading event.

Since James and his siblings are not television viewers, he tried not to think about his being on TV for the bee - just to avoid personal nervousness. He enjoyed meeting Alex Trebek, but hadn't a clue who news correspondent Katie Couric was, and the round of interviews after the win was near-daunting: the "Today" show, CNN, a later-cancelled CBS request, and an inquiry from the "Late Show with David Letterman."

How has it changed his life? "I've learned a lot about geography and have an increased interest in it. I had fun through the bee, and I'm learning how to interview better. I'm trying to get better at interviews." In our view, at 14 and a national champion, James is holding his own quite nicely.

To find out how you can start a homeschool geography bee in your area, you can visit the official website at With the newness of homeschoolers' involvement, the rules are evolving to include them, while still giving them parameters similar to those of public and private schools. Membership in a local homeschool group is not required, but you need to form a bee for all the homeschoolers in your area. To make the bee even more fun, ask area restaurants and businesses to donate small items - a free pizza or a small world atlas - and use these as door prizes for each contestant. A parent of a contestant cannot run the bee, but can help organize and assist in making it run smoothly. Geography bees need to be held before February each year, since state contests are held in April, with the National Geographic Geography Bee held at the end of May.

Kym Wright is The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's news correspondent. Kym resides in Georgia with her homeschooling family. See her site at

Copyright, 2003. Used with permission. The Old Schoolhouse