News & Events

Summer 2014 Scholarships

We're delighted to announce that this summer we're offering 5 scholarships to campers through our partnership with OpenDoors of Asheville. The 5 campers will have 4 weeks as boarding campers, fully funded. These scholarships will go to children living in multi-generational poverty as a joint effort between Camp Spring Creek and OpenDoors to make positive, life-altering learning experiences accessible to children of any economic means in Western North Carolina. Last year's scholarship recipients from this partnership had moving things to say after their camp experiences. You can read excerpts from their letters here. We were also able to offer 2 scholarships at 50% to local children and are aspiring to raise another $7700 to support one more scholarship to give a local child 4 weeks of boarding at camp.

If you missed our demographic breakdown by age, gender, and location for this summer season, you can check out who comes to Camp Spring Creek. Suffice it to say, we have a waiting list for the first time in 10 years and we're taking names for early registration for 2015 right now! Please be in touch if you have questions, would like to be considered for a scholarship, or feel inspired to donate money to help us bring one more local child to camp this season!

Camp Spring Creek Receives Anonymous Grant

logo_30This press release was originally published in our local newspaper and we'd like to share the exciting news with our broader audience by re-posting it here, on today's blog.

Camp Spring Creek Receives Anonymous Grant

Spruce Pine, NC – Last week, Camp Spring Creek received a grant in the amount of $2500 from the Anonymous Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation in Durham. “This was such a surprise and so altruistic,” said camp co-director and co-founder Susie van der Vorst, who did not apply for the grant nor have any affiliation with the organization.

The grant, which will be added to the camp’s operating budget, came completely unannounced and out of the blue. “This grant was made by a donor-advised fund here at the Triangle Community Foundation,” said Donor Services Officer Melchee Johnson. “Since it is anonymous, I cannot provide details on the selection process. Generally, our fund holders of donor-advised funds make grants to organizations they have great interest in or passion for. Before the grants are made, organizations are given due diligence to be sure they are in good standing.”

The Camp Spring Creek operating budget covers things like rent, utilities, and salaries, among many other line items. For instance, last year the Camp used part of its operating budget to supplement scholarships and the technology budget. This coming year, the camp is hoping to put up an archery fence to catch bows, so they don’t get lost down in the creek. “Ultimately, every gift provides opportunities for these children with eclectic learning styles and each gift makes our possibilities greater,” says van der Vorst. “We are very grateful.”

Susie Presents in Florida!

This week Susie is in Florida working with mentor and friend Susan Russell for an in-service training with the teachers at The Little Place and The Little Place Too, both private, academic-based preschools. Susan was Susie's second boss, so the two go way back. This press release was published via local media outlets in Wellington, FL and shares more about their relationship and the goals of Susie's trip. Free Dyslexia Info Session for Parents & Educators

Wellington, Florida – February 25, 2014 – Esteemed educator and dyslexia advocate Susie van der Vorst offers free info session for parents, educators, and administrators interested in early intervention, teaching methodologies, and other issues facing children with learning differences.

The Little Place Too, an academic-based private preschool in Wellington, will host an info session on dyslexia featuring Susie van der Vorst, well-known education advocate and co-founder of Camp Spring Creek. Susan Russell, owner of The Little Place Too, invited van der Vorst to the region after sending one of her school’s teachers to Camp Spring Creek’s 70-hour Associate Level Orton-Gillingham training at the camp in North Carolina.

“We’re just getting into the Orton-Gillingham approach at The Little Place,” says Russell. “I can already see a positive difference. It helps all of us understand how to help our children in the best ways possible.” The OG approach, as it is commonly called, is one of the most highly effective methods for teaching the structure of language using multisensory techniques. Trained tutors, such as Ms. Shay at The Little Place Too, engage students in learning activities that ask students to see, hear, and write a concept. Processing a single concept in many different ways allows all children, and especially children with learning differences such as dyslexia, to grasp skills they cannot learn using traditional methods.

At the info session, van der Vorst will touch on early intervention techniques that help parents and teachers determine whether or not their child has a learning difference as early as age four. She will also answer common questions, dispel myths about dyslexia, and discuss resources available nationwide. “Dyslexia doesn’t necessarily mean you read backwards, as people often think,” says van der Vorst. “Children with dyslexia have difficulty processing language but they are often very gifted in analytical reasoning and creativity, which is why a high percentage of people with dyslexia become corporate CEO’s, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs, surgeons, and architects.”

With support, people with dyslexia lead lives of accomplishment. This has been proven with recent brain research, in the classroom, and also at Camp Spring Creek, one of only three residential camps in the United States accredited by the Association of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. “We often see students make two to three years worth of progress during a six to eight week session at camp,” says van der Vorst, who has nearly 30 years of teaching and tutoring experience. “Our approach is designed to target a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses and help them excel. But we also recognize the value of keeping kids active throughout the day. These kids can’t learn as well if they’re stuck behind a desk. The learning needs to be hands-on so that they can get multiple senses involved.”

Susan Russell and Susie van der Vorst have a history stretching back to 1987, when The Little Place Too first opened its doors. “I told Susie that she could start a kindergarten classroom at my school and do anything she wanted, as long as she could explain why,” recalls Russell. “She was just out of school, young, and very excited about teaching. I didn’t want to stifle that. She presented her plans to the parents and they could feel her enthusiasm, too. That’s exactly why she’s been so successful.” For van der Vorst’s part, the primary motivator in spreading the word about dyslexia is that she believes the right to read is a civic right. No child should be excluded because traditional teaching methods don’t teach some kids the ways they need to be taught.

The info session is free and open to the public. It will be held Tuesday, February 25 from 6:30-7:30pm at The Little Place Too, 2995 Greenbrier Boulevard in Wellington. For more information please call 561-790-0808.

Camp Spring Creek Featured in WNC Magazine

We're so proud to be featured in last month's print and online issue of WNC Magazine. Please take a moment to enjoy this brief feature by clicking HERE and scrolling down to Steve and Susie's photo.


Camp Spring Creek Seeks Teachers for Free Training in WNC

1ReviewingFingerTapping-tapb4youwriteThis press release was originally published by local newspapers in Mitchell and Yancey Counties. Spruce Pine, North Carolina – December 8, 2013 – Camp Spring Creek Outreach Center, a non-profit organization in Mitchell County, received grant funding to train up to 10 teachers and assistants in the Classroom Educator Class.

Camp Spring Creek was recently awarded a $20,000 People in Need grant funded through the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the Lipscomb Family Fund, the Fund for Mitchell County, and the Nelle Crowell Fletcher and G.L. Crowell Fund. These monies are specifically allocated to train up to 10 public school teachers or assistants who work with children during the literacy block.

“We’re so grateful to all the organizations that contributed to make this funding possible,” said Camp Spring Creek co-director Susie van der Vorst. “Now we’re ready to make it known that there are 10 spaces available. Thanks to the grant, the training is free. We’re hoping for 5 teachers from Yancey and 5 teachers from Mitchell, and we can work with individual schedules to offer the course during their free-time.”

The Classroom Educator Class is a 35-hour course based on the Orton-Gillingham approach to learning. Participants will learn the structure of English, primarily focusing on specific methodologies for differentiating instruction to meet individual students’ unique learning needs within small group or whole class instruction. The course will cover phonemic awareness, syllabication, and the spelling patterns of our language, among other concepts.

"Orton-Gillingham training was definitely that 'missing link' in my professional training!” said Tamara Houchard, 6-8th grade ELA teacher at Harris Middle School, who has completed numerous trainings through Camp Spring Creek. From her basic training, she says she “was able to understand the foundations of the English language and, more importantly, able to teach my students—at any level—how to read, understand, and comprehend in a systematic and logical way. No reading teacher could ask for more from a training!"

While the Classroom Educator Class is especially designed for K-3rd and Exceptional Child teachers, “we will take anyone interested,” said van der Vorst. “We would like school principals to contact us if they have teachers or assistants who are interested.” Following course completion, participants will receive 1 year of mentorship through conferences and in-class visits from van der Vorst, who is also the instructor.

The Orton-Gillingham philosophy, or OG, as it is commonly called, uses a language-based, multisensory approach to learning that relies on a student’s problem-solving and creative thinking skills to circumvent processing weaknesses. Although OG is most commonly used for children with dyslexia, the method has been successfully incorporated into learning environments for students of all styles and abilities. For information, call the Camp Spring Creek Outreach Center at 766-5032.

Camp Spring Creek Heads to Pennsylvania

ReadingHouratCamp2This press release was originally through published in Bucks County, PA area media outlets in anticipation of our 1/6/14 Camp Show in Buckingham, PA. Read below for info about hosting a camp show in your area, and also some choice quotes from Camp Spring Creek's very own Susie van der Vorst. Buckingham, Pennsylvania – January 6, 2014 – Summer camp for children with dyslexia offers film and open house.

Camp Spring Creek, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, is an academic and recreational camp supporting dyslexic children ages 6 to 14. Invited by a local Doyelstown family whose child attended the camp, co-founder and director Susie van der Vorst will screen “How Difficult Can This Be? The F.A.T. City Workshop” by Rick Lavoie and facilitate a brief discussion afterwards. This unique film allows viewers to experience the frustration, anxiety, and tension that children with learning disabilities face every day, as if seeing it through the eyes of a dyslexic. The event is free, open to the public, welcomes children, and includes refreshments.

“Camp Spring Creek changed the way my daughter, Morgan, thought about her ability to read,” said mother and Doyelstown resident, Lisa McBride. “She came home with the understanding that she could face her reading and spelling challenges. As a result, her third grade year has been significantly better and she’s already excited to return to camp!” According to the camp co-director, children with dyslexia often have a hard time learning the skills associated with reading, spelling, and writing. “Dyslexia doesn’t necessarily mean you read backwards, as people often think,” said van der Vorst. “Children with dyslexia have difficulty processing language but they are often very gifted in analytical reasoning and creativity, which is why a high percentage of people with dyslexia become corporate CEO’s, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs, surgeons, and architects.”

With support, people with dyslexia often lead lives of accomplishment. Some of the most successful people in history had dyslexia, including Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and Walt Disney. Some modern day people who have dyslexia are Robin Williams, Tom Cruise, Henry Winkler and Charles Schwab. “So many people with dyslexia are misunderstood,” said van der Vorst. “But just look at the wonderful role models we have! Many succeed in spite of their education. Imagine how they’d be if they had been instructed in the ways that they learn best.”

One of the most highly effective methods for such instruction is the Orton-Gillingham approach. It teaches the structure of language using multisensory techniques that lead students to see, hear, and write a concept at the same time. Processing a single concept in many different ways allows dyslexic kids to grasp skills they cannot learn using traditional methods. “We often see students make two to three years worth of progress during a six to eight week session at camp,” said van der Vorst. “Our approach is designed to target a child’s individual strengths and weaknesses and help them excel. But we also recognize the value of keeping kids active throughout the day. These kids can’t learn as well if they’re stuck behind a desk. The learning needs to be hands-on so that they can get multiple senses involved.”

The academic program at Camp Spring Creek includes one-on-one tutoring using the Orton-Gillingham approach, keyboarding and writing classes, one hour of reading aloud each day to camp staff, and one hour of study skills. Optional math remediation or enrichment is available as well. The activities offered by the program include wood shop, art, gymnastics, swimming, orienteering, and waterskiing. There are also field trips to explore the surrounding Blue Ridge landscape and culture.

Camp Spring Creek is one of only three residential camps in the United States accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. The open house and film screening will be held Monday, January 6 at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal, 2631 Durham Road, in Buckingham. For more information, call (828) 766-5032 or visit

Giving More Thanks...

Note: We're holding a contest on our Facebook page this holiday weekend. Visit our page and post a photo of yourself or another adult reading with a child. Once you post the photo (and like our page so we can contact you if you win), you'll be entered to win a Camp Spring Creek mug! We're fortunate to have a few more very important people and organizations that we'd like to thank. We honored them in our Fall 2013 Newsletter, and would like to honor them on our blog as well:

We are profoundly grateful to our many dedicated and steadfast supporters, including the Rotary Club of Avery County. Thanks to everyone's efforts, we were able to award scholarships to eleven of our forty-three campers. We have always felt that reading is a civil right and that we need to offer our camp experience to children regardless of financial circumstances. With a continually growing network of supporters, we will be able to reach even more children next summer.

Our Bakersville Dollar General has always provided us with a generous discount for our binders and this year they supplied all the binders at no cost to us. Several of our own teaching staff made in-kind donations of books and teaching materials. Liz Hall, education advocate and avid supporter of Camp Spring Creek, is making hand-sewn slipcovers, curtains, and valances to enhance the interior of camp. Thank you to everyone, who helps us complete our mission.

We are also grateful to the Pelham Foundation for awarding us a technology grant. Funding from the grant and private donations allowed us to replace all the old computers with new iMacs and install Microsoft Office and iWorks software. We were also able to purchase a color laser printer, several Kindle Fires for reading hour, and iPads for our math program.

Additional thanks and recognition goes to the People in Need Grant, Mitchell County Community Foundation, and the Community Foundation of WNC who support our outreach mission by helping us provide multi-sensory instruction to local children attending our public schools. We are impressed with the caliber of dedication from the many teachers we have trained; they still seek our guidance by way of mentoring and further training. We are dedicated to continue to expand and solidify multi-sensory teaching strategies in our local schools. We are also assisting OpenDoors of Asheville in training teachers who work with their clients in the Buncombe County schools.

Thank you all for being a part of our community and letting us be a part of yours!

Happy Thanksgiving!

imagesFrom our family to yours, from our mountain home to your open doors around the world...we are thankful for all the hard work you do to parent, educate, love, and support Camp Spring Creek campers and children with dyslexia worldwide. We hope you are able to spend time this coming holiday weekend with your loved ones, reading books with your children and listening to them share what they love with you. What are their passions? Their dreams? The sky is the limit! We have always believed that and we know you do too. As we gather and say thanks for our tradition stateside, know that if you're reading this, you're a part of what we are thankful for. Here's to many more years of learning, growing, succeeding, and having fun outdoors together!

The Houchard Family

Josie This post originally appeared in area newspapers to announce two remaining teacher scholarships and share the inside story of the Houchard family's experience with Camp Spring Creek and the Orton-Gillingham method.

When Harris Middle School English Language Arts teacher Tamara Houchard first learned about the Orton-Gillingham (OG) methodology for teachers, she was sitting on a panel to observe fellow teacher Kristie Autrey’s National Board certification process. “I found out just enough to become interested and did some further research about the philosophy and methods of learning and instruction,” Mrs. Houchard recalls. In October of 2009, she enrolled in Camp Spring Creek Outreach Center’s Associate Level training in the OG method. This training is administered by Camp Spring Creek co-founder and dyslexia advocate Susie van der Vorst. Valued at nearly $1500, many scholarships are offered to Western North Carolina teachers for the training, including 2 for a training beginning later this month. Mrs. Houchard received a scholarship funded by the Samuel L. Phillips Foundation and completed her OG coursework during winter 2010.

“One of the greatest lacks I felt I had in my own teacher training was a consistent, research-proven method to approach reading instruction,” says Mrs. Houchard, who has taught in Mitchell County Schools for 15 years. “Even during my Masters and National Board work, I could not find an approach that seemed to be reasonable and agreed upon by many experts. OG seemed to address these issues and to be appropriate for every learner.” The OG method uses a language-based, multisensory approach to tutoring that relies on a student’s problem-solving and creative thinking skills to circumvent processing weaknesses. Although OG is most commonly used for children with dyslexia, it is successfully incorporated into learning environments for students of all styles and abilities. Currently, Mrs. Houchard is focused on modifying OG principles such as grammar basics, generalizations for spelling, and vocabulary foundations for best use in her classroom, where small-group work is not always possible.

Over the past several years, Camp Spring Creek has trained 11 Mitchell County teachers or assistants on full scholarships and plans to train even more. Assistant Superintendent of Mitchell County Schools Morgen Houchard (husband of Mrs. Houchard) hears nothing but positive results from teachers using OG methods in their classrooms. “Many have stated that OG is possibly the best reading training they have had,” says Dr. Houchard. “I would also agree that those teachers who have had the training seem to be very dedicated to student achievement and improvement.” Dr. Houchard, who has worked for 20 years in Mitchell County Schools as teacher, assistant principal, principal, director, and assistant superintendent says he believes a child’s education should be the most important thing happening in their lives and the lives of their family members. “If we can get parents and legislators concerned about education above and beyond quick fixes,” Dr. Houchard believes, “we will make great strides as a community. The more support, the fewer obstacles teachers will face in the classroom.”

Indeed, this summer Dr. and Mrs. Houchard sent their 8-year-old daughter, Josie Houchard, to Camp Spring Creek for 6 weeks as a day camper. Mrs. Houchard worked at the camp as an OG tutor, alongside Lissa Jo McMahan and Dennis Gilfillan, who also work in Mitchell County schools. “I really liked woodworking, art, and swimming. The lessons were fun and the teachers were great,” says Josie. “I was a little nervous [before camp] because I was younger and I did not know any campers there…but it was fine. I met a lot of nice people and I would tell my friends to go. You can really learn a lot!” During OG tutoring at the camp, Josie especially focused on generalized rules of spelling and cursive with her tutor. This year, Josie is in Mrs. Boone’s 3rd grade class at Deyton Elementary School.

Although Josie is not a child with dyslexia and does not exhibit learning differences in the classroom, both parents agree she clearly benefitted from healthy time outdoors with her peers and regular OG one-on-one tutoring sessions. “Josie made terrific reading and spelling growth over the summer, and furthermore her confidence in her reading abilities soared,” says Mrs. Houchard. “She enjoys reading even more, and is delighted at her stamina for chapter books.”

Educators, administrators, and parents interested in the OG method, training, and camp opportunities can contact Camp Spring Creek at 828-766-5032 or visit The next OG Associate Level training is Sept 20-30 in Bakersville, and 2 heavily funded scholarship spaces are still available for public school teachers in Western North Carolina. Dates for camp next summer are June 15 through August 9, 2014.

Join Us Next Month in New Orleans!

IDA_logo_2C The International Dyslexia Association, or IDA, “promotes literacy through research, education, and advocacy.” Susie is delighted to be one of many skilled presenters at this year’s conference. The full program can be accessed online by clicking here. If you’re a parent, administrator, educator, homeschool teacher, or other professional looking for continuing education credits and innovative teaching philosophies for a variety of learning environments, please consider attending this internationally renowned event. If you’re friends of Camp Spring Creek, let us know you’ll be there and we will try to meet up at the conference or in New Orleans!

Susie’s sessions are scheduled as follows:

Thursday, November 7: “TP15 Word Origins”


Explore the origins of the English language with a multimedia presentation and hands-on activity. Learn to identify the etymology of a word based on a few facts that will be enlightening. Why is this important, well for starters, if you know where the word originated, you are more likely to spell it correctly.

Saturday, November 9: “S20 Parenting Tips & Advocating for Our Children”


One size does not fit when parenting children with dyslexia. An array of tips will be offered to assist in providing a balanced environment where children are encouraged to be responsible, accountable and perseverant members of the community. This will be an interactive session to discuss parenting and advocacy roles with different types of students, so that we, as parents can assist in developing our charismatic and determined children into leaders of the future.

Meet Wendy

DSC02421Camp Spring Creek has a new Office Manager and Bookkeeper! We are happy to introduce you to Wendy Woody, originally from Burnsville and very happy to be working with us. Wendy will complete her Associate Degree in Business Administration from Mayland Community College this December, and has consistently earned a 4.0 GPA.

Prior to working for Camp Spring Creek, she was a Sales Associate at Cato in Spruce Pine and a tutor at Mayland for students enrolled in business classes. "It was a really busy schedule on top of school," Wendy says, adding that she is grateful to have a single employer now as she focuses on finishing her degree. Wendy is also mother to two sweet young girls, Madelyn age 3 and Mackenzie age 1.

Wendy has been working for Camp Spring Creek for about a month and is already putting her delightful demeanor and hard skills to work. "I'm using a little bit of what I've learned in my degree every day," she says. "Probably the biggest thing I've used so far is Quickbooks and Accounting, but I'm learning more and more every week."

Welcome--we're so happy to have you!

Fall Training Opportunity

We are so excited to announce that we'll be offering the Orton-Gillingham 70-hour Associate Level Training course this fall out at Camp Spring Creek. Training on-site during the beautiful fall months is an incredible opportunity! "We're going to live, eat, and breath it," says camp co-director and co-founder Susie van der Vorst. Training includes housing at the camp and lovely meals prepared by our chefs. Susie is one of just a small number of people in the country who is allowed to officially train and certify others in OG methods. More info about the September 20-30 trainingDSC01806 can be found here, and don't wait...there are only a few spots left! If you're curious about how OG training works, check out this post and video from last spring's training that we offered at our Outreach Center in Spruce Pine. Susie is available by phone or email with any questions (though it may take a day to respond, as we're entering the final week of camp). For those of you with friends and family in the education field near or far, please share this post with them and help spread the word!

What We're About

The Camp Spring Creek Blog subscriber base has nearly tripled since The Big Switch a few weeks ago and our stats are up over 200%! It’s time to take a moment to orient our newest readers to the purpose of this site. During summers, we update our blog three times each week. All other times of year, we update twice weekly. Although Camp Spring Creek has had an online presence for years, investment in this blog really kicked off this spring. Our teachers, counselors, campers, and tutors come to us from all over the world. By communicating through this blog and our Facebook page, we hope to keep all the members of our community in touch more frequently. If you subscribe to this blog via email (on right hand sidebar), you’ll never miss a post and you can unsubscribe at any time. If you follow us on Facebook, you’ll see all kinds of photos and quips from our camp and training lives on-the-go.

Our official website has all the details about enrolling for camp, professional development and training opportunities, employment with us, as well as links to our seasonal newsletter. This blog is where newsworthy updates are posted with a bit more depth. Take a moment to tour the different categories we’ve established (right hand side bar) and learn about our grant funding, our local programs, and our spectacular trained teachers. We also like to recommend books and appreciate any reading ideas you have to share.

Later this fall, we hope to network with the broader world of professionals in the education, camp, and training fields for children with dyslexia. We’re even keeping our fingers crossed that we’ll be able to publish brief interviews with professionals in the field, with the intention of creating a blog that not only informs and inspires, but adds to greater dyslexia dialogue. If there is something you would like to see us discuss, someone you’d like us to interview, or a question related to dyslexia that you’d like us to consider, please let us know. It is an exciting time of growth for us at Camp Spring Creek, and you are a big part of that!

Our Outreach Center

This time of year, we're all about life in Bakersville at Camp Spring Creek and honored to have counselors, tutors, and campers from all over the world. But in the bigger picture, part of what we strive to do is make Orton-Gillingham instruction and tutoring available to all children, regardless of financial need...and especially to those children in our own backyard of Western North Carolina. To that end, Susie works throughout the school year to train Mitchell & Yancey County Public School teachers in Orton-Gillingham tutoring methods. This training is often funded by grants, donations, or a combination of both. Following training, Susie makes extensive classroom visits all over the tri-county area, assessing teachers and students alike. The end of the school year is an exciting time for our Outreach Center, as we've gathered enough results from classroom visits over the course of a semester to see the details on paper. Here's a quick look at some before and after grade points in Riverside (Mrs. Barrier) and Bald Creek (Ms. Willis) Elementary classrooms. "DSPT" stands for Diagnostic Spelling Potential Test. To learn more about our Outreach Center training opportunities, click here.

Screen Shot 2013-06-26 at 1.09.25 PMScreen Shot 2013-06-26 at 1.10.16 PM

Pilot Orton-Gillingham/Camp Counselor Program

This summer, we're thrilled to announce the pilot launch of our new Orton-Gillingham/Camp Counselor program to benefit Mitchell County children who cannot otherwise afford Camp Spring Creek or one-on-one OG tutoring. Two of our international camp counselors, Lilja and Grace, have completed the 70-hour Associate Level Training in Orton-Gillingham methods and will donate 1 hour a day for 4 weeks tutoring a local child. As of this week, two children with dyslexia started coming out to Camp Spring Creek in Bakersville to spend an hour in a one-on-one tutoring session with Lilja and Grace. After tutoring, the children get to stay an additional hour and join the other campers in a fun activity such as woodshop, arts & crafts, or swimming.

Lilja and Grace with their OG materials

Bald Creek Elementary

Earlier this month, Susie spent some time visiting Bald Creek Elementary School in west Burnsville. Susie was there to complete assessments in Laura Davis' 1st grade classroom (assistant Lisa Hunter), Jessica Duncan and Ashley Willis' 2nd grade classroPhoto Tour of BCES 012oms (assistant Missy Toomey), as well as touch base with a volunteer named Dusty. These educators all received our Associate Level Orton-Gillingham Training through grants awarded to us by the Janirve Legacy Foundation and the Wal-mart State Giving Fund. With this training, teachers were able to return to their classrooms and teach OG-specific language skills to the entire class. Bald Creek Principal Sherry Robinson had this to say about the impact of the training in her school:

"The Orton-Gillingham training has been invaluable. Both teachers and teacher assistants have learned teaching strategies that specifically target weaknesses in phonics and phonemic awareness. They have learned how to 'marry' our K-2 Letterland Phonics Program with the OG strategies and therefore instruct students in a manner which is developmentally and sequentially correct. The training, which Susie van der Vorst delivers, has equipped both teachers and teacher assistants with the background knowledge needed to confidently and competently focus on specific skill weaknesses. As a result of this training and quality instructional time, our 1st and 2nd grade students have made one to two year gains in their reading levels over the past eight months."

New Digs!

-1 It's been nine long months since many of you have seen Camp Spring Creek and it's impossible to keep up with all of Steve's improvements to our facilities. Suffice it to say, you've got to come see it for yourself! But for our fans from afar, or for those wanting a sneak peek, here's a bit of an update. (Above: the new addition on the left side of our main building!)

We've added a new staff storage area for sporting equipment, a camp store, and a staff lounge. We also built a "kid's lounge" that the campers are going to decorate when they first arrive. "I hope that they're going to make decorating it a project, and really make it their own," says Steve (the hard work behind all this exciting news). "The kid's lounge has a ping pong table and a disco ball; even couches and speakers for a rainy day. The campers can get in there and just have a blast."

We've also added a third girls' cabin area and a volleyball court is in process. Oh, and one more thing: a brand new office for Steve. Three cheers!

More pics? Here:



(New lounge with a soon-to-be screened in porch!)


(The breezeway)


Camp Counselors: What it Takes

Our website says that we hire camp counselors who are 21 or older, "with a passion for teaching art, swimming, waterskiing, rock climbing, orienteering, or hiking. Counselors must be good role models for campers and enjoy the energy of children." But talking to Camp Spring Creek co-founder Steve van der Vorst, it's clear there's a lot more to the job than that. "They’ve got to be able to show initiative," says Steve. "That’s one reason we conduct many interviews by phone or Skype. I can usually get an idea for how energetic someone is, and also, how enthusiastic. A lot of young people want to work at a camp, but most camps in America are large and hire counselors that focus on one specialty. We look for people with skills across the board and we're a small camp, so we want someone comfortable with our family-style dynamic."

In addition to hard skills such as a background in art our outdoor activities, Steve also looks for a sense of humor, experience traveling and being away from home, and a willingness to work hard.

This year's Camp Spring Creek counselors were recently featured in our Spring Newsletter. Before camp starts, they will travel from all over the globe to join us in Bakersville at the camp for a week of training. By the time our first campers arrive, the counselors have received certifications in lifeguarding, first-aid, and CPR. They've received training about social and creative concerns specific to children with dyslexia. And they've been given "the talk" from Susie about Orton-Gillingham and the educational aspects of our camp.

Stay tuned for words of advice from some of our returning counselors later this month!