Spruce Pine, North Carolina – Camp Spring Creek of Mitchell County and OpenDoors of Asheville join forces to make a difference in the lives of four Western North Carolina children.
This summer, four Buncombe County children connected through OpenDoors of Asheville were awarded full scholarships to attend Camp Spring Creek, an academic and recreational camp focusing on literacy, language, and math skills. Located in Bakersville, the camp has served children from WNC and around the world for 11 years and is one of only three residential camps in the United States accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. OpenDoors connects local children living in multi-generational poverty with enrichment and education opportunities to help break the cycle of poverty. The organizations teamed up to provide jointly-funded scholarships made possible through private donations, enabling four children from Buncombe County to attend Camp Spring Creek for four weeks at a total value of $29,920.
According to Jennifer Ramming, Executive Director of OpenDoors, the nonprofit currently partners with 13 Asheville city schools for 48 students, more than 2/3 of whom have some type of language-based learning difference and suffer greatly from “summer slide.” The Orton Gillingham methodology offered at Camp Spring Creek provides daily, one-on-one, multisensory tutoring sessions for each camper that is both diagnostic and prescriptive. “The students were assessed and progressed in areas such as phonemic awareness, decoding, encoding, writing mechanics and study habits,” says Ramming. “There was also a wonderful section on the report [from Camp Spring Creek] for each child called ‘Recommendations’ that gives us a road map for how to continue our student’s success in partnership with the teachers and specialists during the upcoming school year.”
Co-founder of Camp Spring Creek Susie van der Vorst is overjoyed about the partnership. “The kids from OpenDoors had the most integrity and the best manners of any campers I’ve ever seen,” she says. ”All the OpenDoors children were an asset to our program and taught us as much as we taught them. Everyone fit right in and it was great to see the OpenDoors kids getting to know the other campers and branching out to form friendships of their own.”
As a part of their study hall sessions at Camp Spring Creek, campers write letters home. The OpenDoors campers also wrote thank you letters to “sponsors” whose donations made the scholarships possible. “I am a better reader now and I met new people,” wrote one 7th grade child, “Thank you for helping me come here.” Another camper, age 10, wrote: “My reading is improving. My tutor is cool and she taught me cursive. I have made lots of friends here and some of them are from different places.” Their letters also included positive responses to new experiences they had at camp, such as whitewater rafting, paintball, swimming lessons, and woodshop.
For more information about services from OpenDoors, residents of Buncombe County can call 828-777-1135 or visit opendoorsasheville.org. For information on teacher training, camp, or tutoring opportunities through Camp Spring Creek, call 828-766-5032 or visit www.campspringcreek.org.