Beyond the Classroom: The Fresh Air Fund’s Tutoring Program
14-year-old JC spent his summers at Camp Hayden-Marks in 2016 and started attending Camp Mariah and the Career Awareness Program in 2018. Camp Mariah is part of a three-year program focused on career awareness and exploration. Campers participate in year-round programming including tutoring and academic enrichment programs and during the summer attend camp for three weeks – participating in traditional outdoor activities like hiking and swimming while taking classes from photography to fashion to film and international relations.
“The best classes I had at Camp Mariah were chess and swimming. I remember the times when I worked independently and also sometimes in groups. One time, I worked on a group project on how to help people and my group was called Ohana. We had so many ideas on how to help people around the world,” JC said.
Five years ago, while working for a magazine, Kevin Duzyk learned about The Fresh Air Fund’s Tutoring Program through a coworker who shared how enriching it is to volunteer and work with a student one-on-one. Kevin applied to participate and joined the Fresh Air family as a volunteer tutor – never looking back.
“It is extremely rewarding – I really appreciated the relationships I’ve had with every student throughout the years,” Kevin said.
Currently, Kevin is a writer and editor for the Emerson Collective, a philanthropic foundation by Laurene Powell Jobs working on news-worthy issues including immigration, education and climate change.
Kevin and JC started working together during the 2018 Fall Semester. One of Kevin’s favorite memories was from their first semester working together. They collaboratively worked on an oral presentation and creatively added a Spanish language component. They thought it was a great idea since JC is fluent in Spanish and Kevin wanted to learn more. Using Google Translate, Kevin and JC made their presentation interactive and engaging.
As a writer, Kevin shares reading The New York Times with JC and always looks for stories on the video game industry to share with JC. JC enjoys video games so much that he joined his school’s e-sports team and Kevin grew up loving video games – so it was an easy way for them to bond.
Kevin has become a mentor to JC and often shares his own experiences from college and along his career path or about common hobbies. “I’ve enjoyed telling JC about what I’ve learned as a reporter. We would also look at robots and share about my former job at Popular Mechanics,” Kevin said.
Since working together, JC’s favorite moments are when they each get competitive while playing games like chess.
“Overall developing a friendship with Kevin is a big part of it, but also playing and beating him in chess! We also play a helicopter game during our free time where the objective is to navigate through obstacles while trying to keep the helicopter flying and Kevin would always beat me in that one,” JC said.
This year, JC and Kevin continue to work virtually using Zoom. Although it was a bit of an adjustment and challenge in the beginning, they learned how to have engaging sessions that they both look forward to and when asked three words to describe tutoring, JC says, “Absolutely amazing and fun!”
“It’s really enriching to build relationships through the tutoring program, specifically with JC since I’ve worked with him the longest. Also, a big value of tutoring for me is that it takes you out of your own life routine to spend time working with somebody else – especially during the pandemic. I think having this time with JC every week is kind of grounding and I really appreciate it because so much of everything else has changed,” Kevin said.
Learn more about The Fresh Air Fund’s Year-Round Programs.