Summer 2023 Highlights: A Look Back at Some of our Favorite Moments
From the never-ending laughter shared among fellow campers to days full of countless new opportunities, Summer 2023 at The Fresh Air Fund’s camps created memories that will last a lifetime! Campers stepped out of their comfort zones and fearlessly embraced trying new things, such as learning freestyle in the camp lake and reaching new heights on the high-ropes course. Every day at camp is full of exciting activities, though this summer also included some truly special events. Let’s look back at some of our favorite moments.
Tap into sisterhood with the Syncopated Ladies
Hailing all the way from Los Angeles, the Syncopated Ladies, a female tap dance group, visited Camp ABC for Fresh Air Fund’s Girls’ Empowerment Day. Chloe Arnold, the group founder and Emmy Award nominee, and her sister Maud, a producer and dancer, led the event alongside their cohort of dancers. The day began with a guided warm-up where campers were encouraged to experiment with new dance moves and different tap techniques. Laughter filled the room as Beyoncé blasted on the speakers, creating the perfect atmosphere for campers to develop the confidence to express themselves through dance.
After an exhilarating, yet exhausting, dance party, the day transitioned into a discussion about perseverance and goal setting as a young woman. Campers shared stories about gratitude and discussed their academic, professional and personal aspirations. This part of the day helped the girls to reflect on their own growth while supporting their peers. The positive encouragement from the Syncopated Ladies helped campers connect over shared experiences and also learn more about each other’s uniqueness.
The final, and most exciting, part of the day included a phenomenal performance from the Syncopated Ladies. Every tap and stomp into the ground vibrated and echoed throughout the dining hall. The audience sat in awe, dazzled by each move and finding it hard to sit still! An extraordinary event, Girls’ Empowerment Day was definitely a very special day at Camp ABC.
A life-changing partnership
Throughout the summer, the OneSight EssilorLuxottica Foundation, a long-time partner, provided free eye exams and glasses to our campers. Feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness, campers waited for their turn to look through the ophthalmoscope. Those who needed glasses got to try on different frames and had a blast testing new styles. By the end of the summer, nearly 600 campers received a new pair of glasses.
The amazing staff and volunteers worked hard to connect with campers and support them, giving each camper individual attention. In fact, when one camper broke her glasses on the first day of camp, a OneSight volunteer didn’t hesitate to help. All in one day, the volunteer was able to drive to camp, help the camper pick new frames, make the new glasses and get them fitted for her. Just like magic, the camper had a brand-new pair of glasses in under 24 hours!
Practicing teamwork with ESPN
On July 26th, Camp Hayden-Marks hosted “ESPN Day” and welcomed volunteers from ESPN, ABC and Disney who traveled to camp for a day packed with fun activities. After a pause during the pandemic, this year’s ESPN day was the first one since 2019 and was a memorable day!
The ESPN volunteers shared some behind-the scenes details of professional sports with campers. They had the chance to read fill-in-the-blank scripts, pretending to be sports announcers reviewing highlights from different sports. They also designed their own sports pennants for football, baseball and soccer teams. Of course, the day would not be complete without participating in their own sports events. Whether playing ultimate frisbee on the ballfields or running through an obstacle course, the boys got active and focused on teamwork!
After the busy morning, campers recharged with a barbecue style lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs. To add even more spirit to the event, counselors from Camp Hayden-Marks dressed up as Toy Story characters, paying a special ode to the Disney-owned company. By the end of the day, everyone returned to their cabins with a smile on their face.
Design to Thrive
Over the summer, Fresh Air kids experienced dozens of firsts. For some, it was their first-time trying archery. For others, it was their first time petting a sheep at the Camp Model Farm. For our counselors-in-training (CITs) and teen campers, it was their first time learning how to use power tools and building furniture completely from scratch.
The Design to Thrive program, a partnership between The Fresh Air Fund and PennPraxis at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, is an enrichment program centered around design education and career exploration. Campers were involved in all aspects of the design process, including having a voice in what items they could build to contribute to the camp community. This year, that meant more outdoor seating, tables and new camp signs.
Working as a team, CITs took turns mapping out designs, sanding wood and drilling screws. What started out as reclaimed wood from fallen trees slowly transformed into Adirondack chairs, tables and camp signs. After weeks of hard work, the groups proudly showed off their final products at an end-of-the-summer celebration. Campers were able to share a meal at their new tables and enjoy an afternoon full of games, music and food.
A Fresh Air thank you to our partners for making these special programs possible. From dancing the day away to getting new glasses to building furniture from scratch, these special partnerships provided campers with incredible experiences and learning opportunities.
Learn more about The Fresh Air Fund’s sleepaway camps and check back soon for details on how to sign up for Summer 2024!