#FreshAirForever: From Camper to Counselor
In 2020, through Fresh Air Everywhere, Teen Programs and Summer Spaces, The Fresh Air Fund employed 200 NYC youth ages 18 – 24 – and 45 were Fresh Air alums! Shanna Curry – a former camper who returned to The Fund as a counselor – was one of the 45 committed alumni!
Shanna began her journey with The Fresh Air Fund at Camp ABC in 2015. Her experience at camp gave her the interpersonal skills and confidence to return to camp as a counselor-in-training in 2019. She was excited to return last year as a counselor for our virtual camp Fresh Air Everywhere to give Fresh Air kids the fun and transformative experiences she has through The Fund’s programs.
“I started going to camp when I was 11. I was not as social with kids around my age at that time. So being that young and around kids 24/7 pushed me to join activities, communicate and get out of my comfort zone,” said Shanna.
Shanna remembers how she looked up to her counselors and knew that one day she wanted to be a counselor too. After participating in our counselor-in-training program, summer 2020 marked her first year as an official counselor at Fresh Air Everywhere! Shanna was excited to work on her leadership skills while supporting campers in a new virtual camp program.
“This was my first year for wearing my staff shirt – that’s a big deal for me,” said Shanna. “I’m glad I got the opportunity to work online because I was still able to wear my shirt.”
Shanna and her fellow counselors ensured that despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, campers still had the formative, educational and fun experiences that camp provides. Fresh Air Everywhere offered opportunities for campers to make new friends, connect with caring role models, learn new skills, participate in activities that brought the outdoors indoors and even do yoga and learn dance routines!
Shanna’s favorite memory of the summer came from a fun, Pictionary-like game she played with the campers. “The kids chose characters and described them. Everyone’s mic was unmuted and sometimes it was hard to hear! Whoever said it first would get a point. It was really funny,” said Shanna.
Shanna saw her own skillset expand from being a counselor in a virtual setting. Her biggest lessons – time management and communication!
“I had to schedule everything. I also made daily schedules,” said Shanna. “I have to communicate with the other counselors. In person, you communicate with them of course, but it’s not as frequently as online.”
Fresh Air Alums like Shanna create an even stronger bond with our campers because of their shared experience and common interests.
“I think the kids realized they could talk to me as an adult figure, but also like their big sister,” said Shanna.
This summer, Shanna is excited to apply the skills that she’s learned as a Fresh Air camper and counselor to her summer job at a local amusement park!
“I will be able to use the skills I learned from The Fresh Air Fund, from the teamwork from group projects to communication skills. in the future to teach kids what I have learned from my experiences,” Shanna said.