Andrea G.

YMCA Camp Seymour

"I have a fifth grade student who is a leukemia survivor, qualifies for special education in all academic areas, and speaks English as a Second Language. School is very challenging for him. He is often very self conscious because of his weight and low academic skills. Although he is a very sweet child, he does not have many friends.

At Camp Seymour I watched a transformation in him. While watching his learning group during the Climbing Wall, I noticed this student moving to the end of the line ,with his head down, not interacting with anyone. He was very uncomfortable with the idea of climbing the wall and self conscious of everyone watching him. A YMCA staff member came over to him, and they chatted quietly for a few minutes. Once it was his turn, he harnessed up, put his helmet on and went through all the safety protocols, and then high fived the wall. He looked up towards the top of the wall and stood there for a few moments simply staring.

When he turned around and looked at the students sitting on the bench, I thought he was done....but no - he took one step onto the wall and did not come down until he reached the very top! I have been coming to Camp Seymour for 6 years as a teacher and have never seen such a great feat. He began his climb and got about 5 feet off the ground. He paused for a moment and asked to come down. A YMCA staff member encouraged him to keep trying, as well as encouraged my students to root him on. Within moments, he had 14 students cheering his name for the first time in his life. They all cheered and supported him for almost 14 minutes. It took a very long time, and a lot of support from the staff and students, but he made it to the top! The look of wonder, happiness and pride as he came down will forever be etched in my mind.

Camp Seymour offers students things the classroom cannot! More than 73% of my students are receiving free and reduced lunches - including this child. Because of the generous support of the DOE grant, he experienced this amazing moment. Thank you!"