Meet our Fresh Air Campers!
This summer, we were excited to welcome both new and old friends to our sleepaway camps in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley. All our campers experiences are so unique and personal, and we have loved hearing their stories. Read along to learn more about our campers and hear about some of their favorite moments from Fresh Air Summer 2023!
Meet Niyah, a 13-year-old from the Bronx who has so many positive things to say about her first summer at Camp Junior!
“This is my first summer at camp and it has been amazing. Adventures, swimming, bonfires, movie nights and water balloon fights are just a few of the super fun things we’ve been up to.”
A big sister and babysitter, Niyah loves spending time with kids of all ages. Niyah strives to set a good example and be a role model for younger campers. “We get to play volleyball sometimes with the younger campers which is so fun. I have two younger siblings at home, and I love babysitting, so I love that there are different ages of kids when we play volleyball.”
One of Niyah’s personal summer highlights was the relationships she formed with her counselors. “The counselors really aim to understand us, listen to us and make us feel heard. They help us advocate for ourselves and be confident; they are just the best.”
Niyah’s counselors encouraged her to push herself to new limits – including on the high ropes course.
“I did high ropes for the first time, and it was so much fun! There are a lot of obstacles before you get to the top, and I passed all of them. I was nervous at first, but I just kept telling myself to be brave, which is why I am so happy I came to this camp. That’s what it’s all about! Camp Junior teaches you to be confident, self-assured and brave.”
Meet Daniel, a 5th grader from Staten Island who had his first Fresh Air Fund experience this summer! Camp Hayden-Marks was Daniel’s “home-away-from-home” for almost two weeks. At camp, he had the opportunity to make new friendships and discover new talents.
“I love this place! I love hanging out with my camp friends. At swimming, I learned how to float and hold my breath underwater for the first time. I also learned taekwondo which was pretty cool!”
Daniel is naturally curious and is constantly creating things. “At home, I usually like arts and crafts projects. I like baking cookies, brownies and pies.” Camp was the perfect place for him to explore his interests and to discover new ones.
Daniel has a very close Fresh Air connection. A Fresh Air alum, Daniel’s dad went to camp and inspired him to go this summer! Daniel’s advice for first timers is to “take things as they go, as every day is a new challenge, and you never really know what’s going to happen next.”
Meet Layla, an 8th grader from the Bronx who returned to Camp Junior this summer for her second time! After a wonderful first summer, Layla says, “I was excited to come to camp for the second time, as I could see a couple of changes this year.” From new counselors and cabin mates to different games and activities, there is always something to look forward to each year. Layla definitely saw some changes in herself this year as well. With a fearless attitude and can-do spirit, she left camp feeling braver than ever.
“I did high ropes last year and was scared but was much more confident this year.” Not only did Layla crush the high ropes course
, she also achieved a major goal: receiving the triple yellow band in swimming. Swimming is a favorite activity of hers and she was determined to get a yellow band this summer!
“It was really inspiring to get the triple yellow band this year, after having got the blue and red bands. I thought after getting the double yellow, that if I could just push myself a little bit harder, I would achieve the triple yellow. And that’s what I did.” We’re so proud of her hard work and perseverance!
Reflecting on her time at camp, Layla suggests that all new campers “don’t knock it ‘til you try it. It’s really inspiring to see another part of the world here, and nature is the biggest healer.”
Many Fresh Air campers grow up going to camp every summer! Meet Daniel, an 11th grader from Manhattan who has gone to almost all of our camps. From Hidden Valley to Hayden-Marks to Mariah to Tommy. Daniel has a lot of special camp memories!
“It’s my ninth time here at camp and each year it’s become more like family for me here. I love coming back each summer and I feel like everyone knows me the moment I arrive.”
Daniel shares that every summer he learns something new. This past summer, Daniel stepped out of his comfort zone and tried something entirely unfamiliar: acrobatics!
“It’s my first time doing a backflip here at the acrobatics class. I loved doing it and am relieved that I could do it. My instructor, Freddy, was very friendly and helpful. He always knows how to encourage us.”
Daniel was also proud to improve his swimming skills. He worked on his freestyle and even picked up a new stroke, the butterfly. From backflips to the butterfly, Daniel has made many memories during his summers at camp and has great advice. “I always tell first timers at camp to just appreciate nature and embrace it.”
Meet Jemily, an 11-year-old from the Bronx who got to pet lots of animals during her first session at Camp ABC! Jemily was fearless when it came to interacting with the animals at the Camp Model Farm. “The cows, called Titan and Ida, were really cute! I can’t wait to see them again next year and meet the new cow!”
In addition to her time with the animals, Jemily also explored the garden, tried new foods and cooked journey cakes. “I picked wild berries and ate them for the first time. Then, we tried this little cornmeal cake that they fried.” After grinding cornmeal and churning butter, Jemily and her fellow campers whipped together a batch of journey cakes and tried them with fresh maple syrup.
Most of all, Jemily really looks up to her counselor, Carmen. “She’s important to me because she’s always looking after us. She helps us. She’s funny. She’s brave. She’s just really nice.”
Jemily plans to encourage all her friends to come to camp next summer because “it’s fun and you learn new things, have new experiences. You meet a lot of new people and you make a lot of friends.”
Learn more about The Fresh Air Fund’s sleepaway camps and check back soon for details on how to sign up for Summer 2024!