Ruth B.

YMCA Camp Seymour

Our Camp Seymour experience is a major high point of each school year. Each and every year we bring a more caring, cohesive, interdependent group of young people home with us than the group we came with. The four days and three nights we spend at Camp Seymour really brings out the best in our kids. We are always gratified by the friendships that are formed, especially those between confident, naturally gregarious students and some of their shyer, more reticent class-mates. Students from our Highly Capable program have formed lasting friendships with students from our self-contained special education classes which benefit both of them greatly. Students from different cultures, who have never taken the time to get to know one another find that they have a tremendous amount in common and really enjoy each other’s company. Our kids come back with determination to help our environment and to make our world a better place. They also willingly participate in goofy songs and performances that they might have felt too “cool” to present before their class experience. Tomorrow, our sixth graders will perform a “repeat after me” song that they have written about safety, in front of the whole student body. There was not a single eye roll during our rehearsal yesterday, and they are really excited, as a group to present their song.

We always bring former students to be cabin counselors. These wonderful young men and women come away knowing how powerful it is to provide a great, fun role-model to younger kids. Many have been repeat volunteers; one came for his fourth year in November. Our sixth-graders are already asking what they have to do to be invited to be counselors in the future.

The variety of classes: Environmental Science, Cooperation, and Physical challenges presented by the excellent Seymour staff seems to hit the perfect note with our kids. The program is engaging and exciting to our students, and it is very different to what most of them experience at home. Most of our students have never been camping; some don’t even know what a sleeping bag is before they come to camp. Many experience poverty, some experience homelessness and the camp experience is a tremendously bright spot in their lives. We do a tremendous amount of fund-raising to make this experience possible for our kids. The assistance we have received from the Russell Family Grant has been a tremendous help; ensuring that we can afford to bring our students to Camp Seymour again next year.

Ruth Bookwalter, Teacher at PineTree Elementary School