YMCA Camp Campbell in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains near San Jose, California
Abigail Lane, a student at the University of Colorado- Boulder, received a Casey Feldman Memorial Foundation Alternative Spring Break Scholarship this past spring to travel to and volunteer at YMCA Camp Campbell, an outdoor educational science camp for 5th graders in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz Mountains near San Jose, California. In expressing her deep gratitude to the Foundation for the weeklong service opportunity, Abigail described the experience as “amazing” and “a defining moment of my college years.”
All YMCA programs promote the four core values of the YMCA – caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. The science education staffers believe that children are the key to the future, and that their understanding of nature and their wise use of our natural resources are essential to the well being of the environment. The program strives to develop students’ awareness of their role in the environment, as well as their appreciation of the beauty of nature Of course, it is a multi-faceted learning opportunity for the volunteer counselors as well.
The following is an excerpt from Abigail’s thank you letter to the Foundation:
It was a great (and very wet!) experience for all of us who were there at the camp. The car ride over there was an adventure in itself. Because of it, I got to know my fellow volunteers like I had known them for years. We worked as a strong team of optimistic, fun-loving camp leaders who tried our best to make the most out of the constant rain that bombarded us all week. We were each assigned a cabin group of kids to watch over and our main focus was to make it the best experience possible for them. Many of these children had never been camping before and had never before had the opportunity for outdoor education.
In addition to this challenge, there were two schools that came: Gartner Elementary, from an economically depressed predominantly Latino neighborhood, and Blossom Hill Elementary, snuggled in an affluent suburb of San Jose. Not only were these children engaging with nature and daring to spend time away from home, they were interacting with a demographic very different from their own.
I think the best part for me was seeing that most of them were genuinely interested in learning and really enjoyed being in an outdoor classroom, despite the rain. After a long muddy hike through the woods, no one cared anymore that their clothes and shoes were mud covered and wet.
Watching over my cabin group for the entire week built a sort of relationship that I have never experienced before. By the end of the week I felt like a parent, sad to see them go but terribly proud that they had “survived” a week in the woods. In just that short amount of time, I feel like they learned so much and would never forget their experience at Camp Campbell. I, too, can never forget the camp songs that still run through my head, the lifelong friends I made, and the perhaps once in a lifetime moments that defined this trip for me.
I enthusiastically thank you again for this opportunity. I feel like we really made a difference in those kids’ lives, which means to me that this trip was a massive success. Despite any challenges we had to overcome, it remains a positive experience that I would love to repeat next year. I could not have done this without you. I really hope you understand my appreciation!”
Thank you Abigail for choosing to spend your spring break from college in service by helping children experience the great outdoors and learn about nature!
The Alternative Spring Break college counselors pose for a picture at YMCA Camp Campbell
– Helping our children experience the gift of helping others, article in the Fall CU Parent Newsletter by Casey Feldman’s parents, Joel Feldman and Dianne in which they discuss the establishment of the Alternative Spring Break scholarships in Casey’s memory
– Casey Feldman Inspiration video , produced by CU Boulder broadcast journalism student Kylie Bearse and which aired on CU Boulder TV News, concerning the Alternative Spring Break program and the scholarships established in Casey’s memory.
Dianne and Casey, Christmas 2006
*Dianne Anderson is the mother of Casey Feldman and co-founder of the The Casey Feldman Foundation and its sponsored project, EndDD.org