A Close-Up Look: Camp ABC Helps Girls Find Their Extraordinary
“When I see a younger camper missing home at Camp ABC, I try to talk to them,” said 16-year-old Leslie, sharing how she helps support other campers. “I let them know that they’re going to be okay and to enjoy themselves in the moment, because when the time comes to leave, they’re going to want to stay.”
Beyond exploring the outdoors and learning new skills, campers make new friends and create special memories each summer. Campers cheer each other on while learning to swim, dancing, playing sports or performing at the talent show. But most of all – campers tell us that Camp ABC is special because it is where they can grow, learn and always be themselves.
“I love the workshops and activities at Camp – I learned about communication skills and I also love the dance classes. Camp has shown me that I like to help others put their best foot forward – it really puts a smile on my face,” said Shanna, a former Camp ABC camper and Counselor-In-Training.
Leslie remembers the first time she left her Brooklyn home to attend Camp ABC when she was just 12-years-old, “When I first started, I was nervous because I wasn’t used to being away from my family or not having a phone for two weeks. At first I didn’t want to go, but when I went I learned new things and met new friends. Camp ABC really opened my eyes.”
All Camp ABC campers go on an overnight hike — an opportunity for building confidence, spending time in nature and team building. During the hike they support and learn from each other. For most campers, hiking is a new experience in nature and they feel empowered when they finish the hike. The s’mores at the evening campfire are also a camper favorite on every hike!
“I was not ready for my first hike at all,” Leslie said. “I learned how to cook over a campfire and how to start a fire with sticks and rocks. When I would stop on the hike, because I couldn’t keep up, the rest of the group would stop with me to make sure I was okay, and we’d motivate each other.”
Camp ABC’s Precious Center for Teen Leadership provides a home for the Teen Leadership Program and gives young women, ages 13 to 17, a safe, nurturing environment to focus on personal growth, leadership and community service. It provides our Teen Leaders a safe space to build connections and focus on their future goals.
The teens participate in many camp activities, from team sports to art and music classes, in addition to leadership development and team-building workshops. Girls’ empowerment workshops cover a wide range of topics from self-esteem, body image and healthy choices, bullying, social justice and public speaking to goal setting and conflict resolution.
16-year-old Teen Camp Leader, Samyya, started her Fresh Air journey in 2013 as a Camp ABC camper at just nine-years-old. “I’ve learned that I can be a leader and that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to, and I’ve developed a strong sisterly bond with the other girls. Camp ABC is helping me prepare for my future.” said Samyya. She really enjoys the creative process of making up songs with her friends – they even made them up while they were hiking!
An important part of Camp ABC is teen leadership development. As a teen leader, Samyya understands that part of being a leader is to set an example for the younger girls. She said “A leader is someone who is confident and inspires others to be the best they can and encourages them to follow their dreams. As a Camp ABC Teen Leader, I learned collaboration and mindfulness.”
This summer, both Samyya and Leslie are excited to participate in one of our Virtual Teen Credentialing Programs. They both are participating in our Environmental Education Program in partnership with the National Outdoor Learning School (NOLS), an organization dedicated to teaching leadership skills and environmental education. The program will develop students’ wilderness skills, interest in environmental studies, exploration of self and community and leadership skills.
Learn more about all of our summer 2020 programs. Your support will help Fresh Air kids this summer and beyond – and they need us now more than ever.