Discovering Her Confidence: Emily’s Journey from Camper to Counselor-in-Training
“It all began when I was 9 and I arrived at Camp ABC. That first day I was sad because I wasn’t used to being away from home and away from my parents. That feeling didn’t last for long because my counselor was very comforting and she made camp so awesome,” 17-year-old Emily shared.
Looking back at her first days at camp, Emily is proud of her growth. Starting as a camper in 2014 and spending four summers at Camp ABC, Emily had life-changing experiences and formed deep connections she will always cherish.
Through Fresh Air camp, Emily had many new summer experiences from taking courses on fashion design, swimming lessons, exploring the outdoors and visiting the planetarium. She even milked a cow at the camp model farm which was completely new for Emily who grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens!
“I will never forget my first hike. At first a lot of girls were complaining. But our counselors were very encouraging because we were doing it together. It was really impactful,” Emily said.
Emily noticed her own growth even during her first summer. “I found myself opening up to people. Camp is all about new beginnings.” Fresh Air camp became a place she looked forward to attending each summer not only for the fun adventures but also for the friendships she made and the support she received from her counselors.
In 2020, when so many summer plans were cancelled due to Covid, Emily was thrilled to have the opportunity to share her camp experiences with her family through The Fresh Air Fund’s Family Wellness Program.
“There I was at camp showing my mother, grandmother and sister all the great things to do. We went out on the lake in a rowboat, tried archery, went swimming and much more! After years of telling them about camp, now we could share this experience together as a family especially after being indoors for so long. It was such a great time and a lot of fun.”
Sharing these moments with her family allowed them to connect in a new way, forming new memories and experiencing new activities outside of their typical city environment. It was a great way to explore the outdoors and for Emily and her family to share the love she has for camp with them.
Emily’s connection with The Fresh Air Fund continued during high school when she participated in the Summer Teen Academy Entrepreneurship Program. She learned about financial literacy, starting a business, marketing and more. Emily created her own coffee company specializing in specialty toppings!
Emily loved challenging herself to try new things and she gained responsibility by making real decisions for her business.
For her second summer as part of the Summer Teen Academy, Emily participated in the Urban Design Studio program where she enjoyed working with instructors from PennPraxis at The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. She learned about urban design through a curriculum that weaves together multiple disciplines including art, design, activism, architecture and landscape architecture.
“We created furniture in woodworking, and I made a stool that I took home and use every single day. We also made beautiful objects like wind chimes for an art project. It was great to learn from the instructors who were patient and kind and it felt like we all went on this creative journey together,” Emily said.
From a 9-year-old who was nervous about attending camp, Emily has grown immensely during her summers at The Fund. Emily is excited for the future and can’t wait to continue building relationships, growing and having new adventures as a counselor-in-training this summer!
Learn more about The Fund’s summer 2022 programs!