Fresh Air Everywhere: Bringing the Magic of Fresh Air Home
This summer was quite an adventure –our Fresh Air Everywhere campers went back in time, explored nature and traveled around the world – all while staying in the comfort of their own homes!
The Fresh Air Fund’s virtual summer camp, Fresh Air Everywhere, encouraged campers to have new experiences, make connections and, of course, have fun! With so many engaging activities, children ages seven to thirteen had the option of participating in three camp themes – Nature, Mystery and Time-Travel and Around the World.
After we needed to cancel traditional programs for Summer 2020, The Fresh Air Fund launched Fresh Air Everywhere to continue to provide transformative and meaningful summer experiences for NYC children. Camp sessions are one week with three hours of live programming each day and access to a library of pre-recorded interactive lessons.
“The program model is amazing because a child could still enjoy themselves while being home during this tough time. Although it was virtual, they were able to do so much in the safety of their home,” said Fresh Air Everywhere counselor, Shashawn Graham.
Campers received a “Camp in a Box” for their session filled with all the materials they would need for camp projects and activities. It included a Fresh Air Fund T-shirt, books, arts and crafts supplies and so much more!
Counselors begin to welcome their campers at 9 am on the online platform activities center which has a chat room, schedule for the day and activities like fun quizzes and projects children can do independently. In the morning, the chat room is filled with excitement for the day – and messages like “Good morning”, “Happy Tuesday!”, “Are you ready for a great camp today?” or “Welcome Bunk 2!”.
At 9 am, campers log on to their first of three virtual classes for the day. Each class is scheduled for an hour with themed lessons and hands-on activities ranging from STEAM to yoga. As part of Around the World camp, participants discovered and learned about new places and wrote about the places they want to travel to some day!
A favorite activity is visiting the Camp Model Farm through a virtual tour. Children are transported to The Fresh Air Fund’s Sharpe Reservation where they meet with farmers Tim and Shannon to learn about the animals and garden.
“The online camp was so much fun! My favorite part was the arts and crafts and going to the farm – I learned how to grow a bean by myself and it’s still growing,” said nine-year-old Fresh Air Everywhere camper, Madison.
Within each camp theme, campers are grouped in bunks by age with two counselors. Classes are led by activity specialists that prepare engaging lessons tailored for each age group.
Fresh Air alum and Fresh Air Everywhere Travel Camp Activity Specialist, Stephanie, applied for the position because she wanted to be part of a program that provided a safe space for NYC kids to be themselves just like camp provided that space for her.
“We watched a documentary that the kids really loved. It showed traveling from a different perspective and teaches about the different sustainable methods countries are using and developing. It was really cool to see the kids learn and voice their thoughts and opinions,” Stephanie said.
Another favorite activity is Bunk Time! Campers enjoy fun icebreakers and activities like show and tell and online board games. It is an opportunity for campers and counselors to connect, have fun and learn more about each other. Campers often step out of their comfort zone during bunk time to connect with their peers and counselors. As the week goes by, campers realize that this is a safe space for them. They share more, raise their hands and enthusiastically participate in activities.
“On the first day, I was nervous to meet new people, but then I had a lot of fun the rest of the week. It was a completely new experience, and I also learned to draw better,” said 12-year-old Fresh Air Everywhere camper, Micah.
Every Wednesday, campers gather for an assembly with exciting virtual events hosted by The Fresh Air Fund’s partners and special guests. Highlights included a workshop with the Syncopated Ladies that had campers up and dancing and an activity led by the American Jewish Historical Society that introduced Emma Lazarus and inspired campers to write their own poetry.
Although Fresh Air summer looked very different this year, Fresh Air Everywhere took campers on a journey of exploration and self-discovery and kept the magic of summer alive with inspiration, hope and joy. The Fresh Air Fund team with help from so many partners and generous supporters creatively worked together to ensure Fresh Air Everywhere was a fun and memorable summer experience.
“It’s so great to see my boys putting the alarm on to wake up and looking forward for the day. We have seen them laugh, learn and be happy for the first time in a long time. The staff engages and teaches them – which is really nice to see. We had many struggles, but The Fresh Air Fund staff really goes above and beyond, and we want to say – Thank You,” said the Maher Family.