August 24, 2021 Category: Our Programs Partnerships

A Day at Fresh Air: Connecting, Creating and Exploring

What can happen in just one summer day at The Fresh Air Fund? A lot! Children have music workshops in Brooklyn and play soccer at Jackson Heights, families try archery at Family Wellness, students ride a ferry to Governors Island and create an art installation – the opportunities for learning and discovery are endless!

A Fun Morning in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

David and Jesus are ready for a day full of fun activities at Summer Spaces. They’ve had a lot of fun meeting new friends in their neighborhood!

Each morning, brothers, Jesus and David, look forward to their morning walk with their grandmother to Fresh Air Summer Spaces! As they get closer to the check-in desk, David can see the hula-hoops, soccer balls and jump ropes – he knows it’s going to be a great day!

Fresh Air counselor, Kristy, quickly signed Jesus and David in for attendance and checked their temperature before both boys were off to their assigned group ready for their first activity. They started the day working on an art project, Portrait of Summer, answering the question – what’s their favorite part of summer?

David shared that his favorite part of summer includes a day outside with the grass and blue skies with his family! Check out more portrait of summer submissions on our blog and see what summer means to our Fresh Air kids!

After art, the counselors get the kids ready for some fun games! From hula-hoop contests to jumping rope and obstacle courses, kids are staying active through guided and safe supervised play.

Hula hoops are a favorite activity at Summer Spaces! Last summer, 92% of children said their experience at Summer Spaces made them feel healthier and more active and 88% of caregivers said their child became more open to trying new things! Read more about our impact here.

David said, “I like coming here because I make new friends and play. I also like that my brother gets to play with me here!”

A Virtual Adventure!

11-year-old Silas from the Bronx woke up excited to log into his Fresh Air Everywhere camp bunk! Once logged in, he was greeted by “Good morning!” and “Have a great day!” messages from his counselors and new friends. After getting settled, Silas jumped into his bunk’s Zoom session where they start the day with an ice breaker: What is your favorite part of summer? What do we have in common?

Counselors encouraged Silas and the campers to talk about how they feel and their comfort levels with various activities. Fresh Air Everywhere gives kids safe spaces to learn, grow and share their own feelings, ideas and experiences.

For their next activity, Silas gets to play games with his bunk! Campers love to play Kahoot, Simon Says, the Scribble game, Fishbowl, Jeopardy and more! In fact, many campers say that the games are one of their favorite parts of camp! Campers learn the importance of teamwork and communication through these exercises.

After a fun round of games, Silas enjoys team-building or arts and crafts activities like goal mapping and vision board creation. Campers had a final project where they learned more about the environment through an art exercise creating a biome, a national park, or a carbon footprint. Silas really enjoys the Creation Parties – when there is time to design and create his final project!

“My favorite part was when we made the projects for the different biomes, and we were able to share it with everyone! We got to see all the different projects and unique styles everyone else did. It was so  much fun! I really liked the counselors and other campers. I liked seeing their projects and getting to share mine,” nine-year-old Rimsha shares.

Campers were able to visualize how climate change works and learn more about solutions through the creation of vision boards and goal mappings. This teaches them the importance of research and problem-solving skills.

At the end of the Fresh Air Everywhere session, Silas joins his bunk-mates for book club. Together they read and discuss Seedfolks, a children’s novel about a community garden.

Exploring Career Options

As part of The Fresh Air Fund’s virtual Job Readiness Programming, students learn about a range of career fields and the education and professional experience needed to have specific careers.

Teens participated in a workshop about careers in the medical field with a team from NYU Langone Hospital. Students heard advice from several professionals and learned about their careers paths and personal journeys.

Campers learn about professionals’ career journeys to understand the importance of setting goals. The speakers are great role models for students in the Fresh Air Teen Academy Job Readiness Program.

The NYU Langone Hospital team highlighted the career of a Physician’s Assistant (PA) and the responsibility that the job requires, as well as problem-solving skills and an ability to adapt to different situations. PAs can spend their career researching diseases and medication, working with patients, assisting physicians with surgeries and diagnostics, and more!

The students explored various reasons why diversity in the health field is important and beneficial.

Teens found it especially thought-provoking and interesting when the representatives discussed the need for more diversity in the field. A Fresh Air teen, Aliyah, smartly noted in the chat that the ability to come from and understand different backgrounds “helps us think through more solutions.”

A Ferry Ride to Governors Island

When Fresh Air teens in the Summer Teen Academy Design Studio Program in partnership with PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design were asked about moments or experiences they will always remember from the summer, students repeatedly described welding with blowtorches and masks, creating ceramic molds to create porcelain bells and building a precise topographic model of Governors Island.

Fresh Air Teens work on their incredibly precise topographic models, matching buildings, sanding, wood-gluing, and adding layer after layer as Governors Island came to life before moving to painting.
Campers and counselors later walked around the actual locations they were recreating observing details about the landscape. Ultimately, the various groups and their correlating model sections of Governors Island will come together to create one large model.

Students participate in a hybrid learning model, dividing their time between Governors Island and Zoom. When asked about how the program inspired them, teens described new aspirations of becoming engineers and artists—with an enthusiastic welder as well.

“A regular day on Governors Island is more hands on than a school day with assignments. I think I learn better this way, doing this kind of work. I’m not sure what I want to do, but I think sketching helps me. I could see myself being an artist or architect maybe,” 15-year-old Ryan said.

Exploring Nature

Guest speaker, Emma, guided Fresh Air kids through the wonders of the wilderness and taught them about various bird breeds to look out for in their bird feeders. Fresh Air kids were even provided a picture list of “city birds” they can find in the trees in New York City!

Each week, the Friendly Towns Connect program welcomes different partner organizations that help kids connect with the outdoors and with each other.

After a week full of fun activities from creating her own rocket to journaling, 10-year-old Naomie from Queens was looking forward to the Flying Deer Nature Center’s virtual visit!

The Flying Deer Nature Center, a non-profit wilderness school based in East Chatham, NY, led a workshop teaching Fresh Air kids how to create their own bird feeder using common household products such as a paper cup, string, peanut butter and bird seeds.

“Being able to learn from your surroundings and be aware of what goes on in nature feels like a superpower! I’m happy to share that power with you all,” Emma tells our Fresh Air kids as she shows them how to create their very own bird feeders.

Family Bonding through a Camping Experience

Meet the Cheung family from Brooklyn. After arriving for their first day at Fresh Air Family Wellness, the Cheung’s were rejuvenated and ready for Day 2!

Family Wellness gives families the opportunity to experience the Fresh Air Fund camps together. Families participate in many activities like boating, fishing, archery and more.

The Cheung’s started the day with breakfast at 8 am and then they excitedly went to their first scheduled activity for the day. With so many choices, from swimming in the pool, hiking and fishing to visiting the model farm, the Cheung family chose an adventurous day with archery and boating!

Families participate in activities that offer opportunities to connect in the outdoors. Rowing a boat together on the lake can be a serene and calming moment for families.

Family Wellness is right on target! The Cheung family were able to learn a new skill and create life-long memories during their archery lesson.

At the end of the day, and all summer long, The Fresh Air Fund provides opportunities for learning, growth and fun for NYC kids and families! Stay up to date on all things Fresh Air – follow us on Instagram: @thefreshairfund, Twitter: @FreshAirFund and Facebook: @FreshAirFund!