20-year-old from Brooklyn, New York
Adam, age 20, is a counselor at Camp Tommy and a former Fresh Air camper. “My mom signed me up for camp to make new friends and try something different, and I really enjoyed it,” he says. “I always felt that if you were a camper, you could become a counselor by working your way up.” Adam was inspired by his own counselors who were his childhood role models. “Being a camper gave me a strong skills base and insight. I know how to set the mood for activities, even if it’s quiet reflection. The day my campers won the water carnival was incredible. Our team felt discouraged, because they couldn’t swim, but with support, they got the bonus points and ended up winning. A terrific day for us all!” Adam is attending trade school in telecommunications. He feels that being a Camp Tommy counselor stays with him during the academic year to motivate him to reach for the stars and achieve his personal goals.
18-year-old from Bronx, New York
Alexis, age 18, is a former Fresh Air child who visited the Reed Family in New Canaan, Connecticut for eight years. He stays in very close touch with the Reeds. Alexis says, “The Fresh Air Fund took me out of my New York City neighborhood and placed me in a larger world. My Fresh Air family taught me how important school is and where it can take you. I received a full scholarship to Middlebury College, and I am majoring in Biology and French. My ultimate goal is to become a doctor. My perspective on life and success has changed tremendously, and I think my host family has learned from me as well. There is no question that The Fresh Air Fund has been much more than just a place to go in the summer.”
11-year-old from Staten Island, New York
Ashley, age 11, a camper at Camp Anita Bliss Coler, enjoys swimming in the lake, drama class and making new friends. She says, “The noises at camp and the noises on Staten Island are very different. Staten Island has car horns blasting and people making noise. At camp, the only sounds are the bugs and the wind in the trees.” Over the past three years, she has learned other valuable lessons and skills, like how to be brave, sing in front of other people and catch bugs. Ashley says that thanks to her Fresh Air experience, she has become more confident and sure of herself.
13-year-old from Queens, New York
13-year-old Celeste began her Fresh Air adventures at Camp Hidden Valley when she was 11 years old. After attending the co-ed camp for children with and without special needs, Celeste went to Camp Mariah for the first time last summer. “There’s not a lot to see and do in Queens, but at camp, there is so much more nature around us, and I love the stars,” she says. During the school year, Celeste meets with her tutor weekly and reflects on how much she has benefited from the program. “My school work is definitely improving. Since my parents do not speak English, they are not always able to help me. The best part of the program is that my tutor helps me and never judges me.”
Diane and Michael Ringler
from Loretto, Pennsylvania
Diane and Michael Ringler’s family of Loretto, Pennsylvania has been hosting Melissa, age 12, of Brooklyn, since 2009. The Ringlers’ only daughter, Kayla, age 13, and Melissa have grown up together during their summer adventures. Diane says, “Melissa’s arrival is the highlight of the summer for our family. For Kayla, her Fresh Air sister’s arrival is like Christmas in July!”
14-year-old from Brooklyn, New York
Emily, age 14, is a student in The Fund’s Career Awareness Program, and she has participated in many job shadowings. Her favorite is the Con Edison chemistry event. “I always liked forensics and pathology and all that stuff, and one of the activities at the Con Edison event was dealing with pH, acids and bases. I asked the Con Ed volunteer why she studied forensics in college and how she got interested in chemistry. It was amazing to be able to discuss this subject with someone who does exactly what I would like to do in the future. It makes it all seem possible!”
20-year-old from Queens, New York
Giannina, called Gigi, age 20, started with The Fund when she attended Camp Anita Bliss Coler as a nine year old. She became a Counselor-in-Training, then a counselor and is now in the College Connections Program.
“In New York City public schools, there are so many children and not enough college counselors to get the one-on-one attention we need. College Connections gave me guidance and direction, helped me with SAT preparation and scholarships, and how to navigate the application process. I don’t think I would have been able to do it without that help and support. I am currently a junior at the University of Buffalo studying Sociology with a minor in Women’s Studies, and I continue to receive support from a volunteer mentor.”
15-year-old from Brooklyn, New York
Before 15-year-old Isaiah from Brooklyn attended Camp Tommy, his favorite activity was playing video games. Now he has discovered a fun alternative, and he loves to swim. “I just got promoted in swimming from a red band and moved up to a blue band. That means I can swim inside the deeper parts of the lake,” he says. Camp Tommy offers hiking, nature and a wide range of outdoor programs that are designed to develop cooperation and encourage team building. “I’ve learned many new skills like how to manage my time more efficiently, how to be mature and what it means to take responsibility for my actions.”
8-year-old from Brooklyn, New York
Jensey, called JJ, age 8, enjoyed Camp Hidden Valley for his first summer. He says, “I didn’t know how to swim before camp and now I am learning. My counselor Sam taught me how to swim, and it’s my favorite activity.” But swimming isn’t the only lesson learned from his counselor and role model. “Sam cheers me up when I am sad, and when we go to our cabin, we play chess. We always have fun!” JJ already knows what he wants to be when he grows up. He says, “I want to be a policeman so I can help people and make the world a better place.”
13-year-old from Queens, New York
Tshetrim, age 13, lives with his family in Corona, Queens and emigrated from Bhutan when he was very young. His parents registered him for The Fund’s Career Awareness Program in the 7th grade, and he attended Camp Mariah.
“My goal for participating in tutoring was to get better grades, but the program actually ended up helping me build my confidence. My tutor helped me study for the Regents exams, and I passed with flying colors! When we have school presentations, I don’t get as nervous anymore, and I speak loudly. My tutor really changed my life.”
Volunteer Hosts Jaime Carter and Ed Houck
from Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Jaime Carter, her husband Ed Houck, and their four sons live in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and have hosted Andre, age 12, of the Bronx for the past five years. Jaime remembers the first time she and her sons met their Fresh Air child. She says, “I was so nervous before Andre got off the bus, worrying about how this would work out, but by the end of the car ride home, I had tears in my eyes. Andre was reading to my sons in the back seat, and right off the bat, they all connected. I knew this was going to work incredibly well, and it has. Now Andre is part of our family!”
Volunteer Hosts Karen Pirozzi and David Guistina
from Voorheesville, New York
Karen Pirozzi and her husband David Guistina of Voorheesville, NY have hosted 17-year-old Sierra from the Bronx since 2005. Karen and Sierra enjoy doing the same things every summer to continue their traditions. “It seems like the simple things are the activities that Sierra remembers the most. She likes to go to the drive-in and visit Saratoga to go on the carousel. Now she wants to visit these same favorite places every time she is here,” Karen says. “Our family has gained as much from the Friendly Towns Program as Sierra. It is a really good contribution that we can make to someone’s life. When she tells us that she would not have these experiences without us, it makes us feel great that we can share them with her.”
from New York, New York
For the past three summers, volunteer Kimberly McFerron, Group Fitness Manager at Equinox in New York City, has visited a Fresh Air camp to teach campers about fitness. “We have led Zumba classes, taught Yoga and Pilates, set up obstacle courses, arranged relay races and football drills. Our goal is to provide well-rounded ideas about different fitness programs that appeal to the campers.”
“We have a lot of interaction with them and really see their passion unfold. We always take time for a question and answer session about how we got into fitness, what our jobs are like and give them guidelines about ways to pursue our career. It’s cool to connect with the children. And by the end of our visit, we have a shared bond with the kids and create our own team spirit. We look forward to our days at camp all year long!”