bakersville

Our Camp Counselors are Here!

Here's a group shot of our camp counselors during lifeguard training, which began June 5th and continues with general camp training right up until the last minute, when the campers arrive on June 15th. From near and far, we're overjoyed to have a stellar team this summer and can't wait to kick things off!

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Why We Eat Family-Style at Camp

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"When people come together for meals there is more than nourishment for the body," says local potter and friend Shane Mickey. "There is nourishment for the mind and heart."

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We feel the same way, and when we asked Shane if he would make serving dishes for our family-style meals at camp, we were touched by his response. "Susie worked with my son while he attended Montessori and that work enabled him to learn at a higher level," recalls Shane. "When I was approached by the camp to make the serving pieces, I considered it an honor to have my work be the presentation platform for all those fortunate campers and caring tutors and camp counselors." Shane says that family-style meals allow for more sharing, because people can gather and discuss the day's events, triumphs, and failures and therefore gain a deeper understanding of one another. Understanding yields support, and for children with dyslexia who may have self-esteeem issues due to struggles in the classroom, that support is a balm. Slow and steady, this adds up to happier children that grow into successful adults who contribute to society--most often through the innovative thinking that dyslexics are known to achieve.

"To me, Camp Spring Creek is a wonderful asset to our community because it not only adds to the diversity of businesses, but what it's mission entails and what they accomplish is heart-warming and incredibly important to the broader context of our society."

Thanks, Shane!

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!

Top 5 Ways to Avoid Summer Slide

CampersOnHikeChildren who spend summer vacation with hours of unstructured activity per day might be gaining independence and exploring their imaginations, but they will also lose math, reading, and spelling skills as a result of “summer slide.” Many families are unaware that a few simple steps can integrate learning into their children’s daily lives, picking up where traditional teaching methods fail without sacrificing those wonderful “daydreaming hours” associated with summertime. One in five school-aged children has dyslexia, yet less than 1/3 of these students receives school services guaranteed to them by law for their reading disability. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the high school dropout rate for students with dyslexia or related learning disabilities is more than twice the national average for students who don’t have a learning disability. During the summer months, most students lose two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation, and low-income youths lose an additional two months in reading achievement. For children with dyslexia, the numbers are even worse.

“Residential summer camps allow children to boost their self-confidence as they overcome homesickness. They spend time developing their interests and they can also focus on reading and writing while having fun,” says Susie van der Vorst, co-founder of Camp Spring Creek and one of only 145 actively training Orton-Gillingham Fellows in the United States.

van der Vorst recommends involving children in family plans, such as doing math to budget for the grocery store, organizing driving routes using maps for a family trip, or starting a family book club using self-selected material that everyone can enjoy. Citing nearly thirty years experience as an educational advocate for children with dyslexia and related learning differences, van der Vorst concludes that the most dynamic summer learning experiences for children happen in supportive social, outdoor, educational environments outside the home.

Camp Spring Creek’s day or boarding program offers the following opportunities to address summer slide and help create positive learning habits for children, so they become more dynamic, confident, curious learners:

  • 1:1 Orton-Gillingham language tutorials using a proven diagnostic and prescriptive multi-sensory approach that teaches the structure of language.
  • An hour of supervised oral reading at the camper’s independent reading level.
  • Daily activities including art projects, swimming, wood shop, waterskiing, and outdoor education to encourage exploration and creative expression.
  • Socialization with peers of different nationalities and socio-economic status through shared living spaces, teamwork opportunities, and memorable experiences such as campfire or singing.
  • Math enrichment and math remediation as per the needs of each camper.

“We often see students make two to three years worth of progress during a six to eight week session at camp,” adds 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. Most campers grow as much in terms of ‘measurable’ skills as they do in self-confidence, communication skills, and their ability to take learning into their own hands.”

Camp Spring Creek is fully enrolled for the 2014 season, but welcomes names for its waiting list (you never know!) and early interest for 2015.

Dollar General Donates to Camp Spring Creek

Today's post was originally published as a press release in our local newspaper. Dollar General Makes Donation

Bakersville, North Carolina – April 21, 2014 – Under the guidance of Shirley Ledford, Dollar General in Bakersville donates supplies to Camp Spring Creek to help children with dyslexia.

Shirley Ledford, Manager of Dollar General in Bakersville, has approved donations to Camp Spring Creek valued at just over $100 for the second year in a row. The donated items included hole punchers, wall clocks, binders, notebooks, pencils, markers, Post-It Notes, and index cards. “This donation helps others and we enjoy doing that. I’m all for the children,” says Ledford. “Dollar General also supports causes related to literacy and the GED program, the animal shelter, as well as causes for autism and Saint Jude’s Hospital.”

Children attending Camp Spring Creek in Bakersville will use these supplies during their daily tutoring sessions in the Orton-Gillingham approach to language as they improve their reading and writing skills. This approach, which is specifically designed for children with dyslexia, is also used by a number of teachers in Mitchell County public schools who have received grant-funded training at the Camp Spring Creek Outreach Center. Orton-Gillingham 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 children with dyslexia to grasp skills that can prove extremely difficult to learn using traditional methods.

Dollar General also donated Koosh Balls to Camp Spring Creek, which are used during an “Alphatoss Game” that teaches young readers about phonemic awareness. By listening to the smallest sounds that make up an individual word, repeating it out loud, and re-iterating each sound by tossing or catching the Koosh Balls, the children re-enforce their learning through multiple pathways, solidifying success.

Camp Spring Creek is currently enrolling for summer 2014 and some scholarships are still available for local children. Contact the camp office at 766-5032 for more information.

Job Openings at Camp Spring Creek

We're in need of several Certified and Associate Level Orton-Gillingham tutors for the Camp Spring Creek 2014 season. We only have a few openings left, but if qualified applicants are interested in working at camp from June 10 to August 10, please send your resume to our general email inbox: info@campspringcreek.org. Applicants may also contact us at the office by calling 828-766-5032. OG Training with us in advance of employment is sometimes an option, so don't hesitate to inquire. We also have a few tutor positions for half the summer. Applicants to these positions that are not returning staff will need to attend staff training at the start of the summer. In general, we prefer individuals that have already been through training via the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Pracitioners & Educators, but we can provide practicum observations. For example, if an applicant is hired and works the entire 8 weeks, he or she can use up to 5 observations for their practicum. Please be in touch!

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.

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Steve Goes to Poland!

camp_america_logoThis week, Co-founder and Co-director Steve van der Vorst is in Krakow, Poland for the Camp America Camp Director's Fair, where he will get to hand-pick some of our counselors for this summer! "Our counselors have to be able to show initiative," says Steve. "That’s one reason we conduct many interviews...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. Safe travels, Steve, and come back with lots of top picks!

In Her Own Words: Shay on Associate Level OG Training

Shay & Charlie #3This fall, Susie led a 10-day Associate Level Training session at Camp in Bakersville. Continuing our series of testimonials, today's post features Shay--a "retired" elementary school teacher who taught for over 30 years in 3 different states. Enjoy this glimpse into her OG experience, which was profound on both personal and professional levels:

Camp Spring Creek: Tell us a little about yourself.

Shay: My joy in life are my two grown sons, a sweet daughter-in-law, and one precious grandson. I'm living in South Florida now, teaching pre-school.

CSC: Tell us about a critical turning point or moment of learning (an "ah-hah") that you experienced during your 10 days of Associate Level Training with Susie:

Shay: The critical turning point for me was at our first session when I realized I was in the company of some brilliant women who had come prepared for an upper-level very intensive study that I felt totally unprepared to handle. However, I've always had to deal with the fact that I felt intellectually inferior, so I just had to work harder and find a way to survive this training and try to be successful. I made a determined effort to absorb all the information, do the homework, and prepare for the quiz each day. However, after learning the characteristics of dyslexia I began to see myself on every page of our book. The red flags were flying and it was overwhelming! I hesitated to diagnose myself or make an excuse for not being able to keep-up but the evidence seemed crystal clear.

CSC: What did you learn or realize that was most surprising to you? Perhaps something you had never considered before...

Shay: I have been living with these painful characteristics for so long I consider them part of my identity. All the shameful patterns of hiding what you don't know or can't seem to understand what everyone else grasps with ease cannot be easily broken and exposing them would be risky plus humiliating. But I felt safe with this group of women and our instructor out at Camp. When I admitted my feelings, Susie wasn't surprised at all  since she had already come to the same conclusion and was waiting on me. Everyone was very supportive and understanding. It was hard but rewarding to finally understand many of the difficulties I've experienced over the years and it gave me even more compassion for my students who struggle with these same problems.

CSC: How will you use your OG training?

Shay: I have been using some of the techniques of OG in my classroom and hope to give my students a head start to success for the future, so they can avoid some of the painful patterns that develop in an effort to cope in our educational system.

In Her Own Words: Valerie on Associate Level OG Training

ValerieMillerThis fall, Susie led a 10-day Associate Level Training session at Camp in Bakersville. Continuing our series of testimonials, today's post features Valerie--a mother, homeschool teacher, and OG tutor! Enjoy! Camp Spring Creek: Tell us a little about yourself.

Valerie: I am a former teacher turned homeschool mom. I homeschool my twin 7 year old daughters while my 4th grade son attends public school. My twins both have learning issues that brought me to Susie for training. One twin, Kaitlyn, is dyslexic, while her sister, Brooke, is deaf and uses Cochlear Implants. Both have language difficulties in speech, sentence structure, grammar, and reading.

CSC: Tell us about a critical turning point or moment of learning (an "ah-hah") that you experienced during your 10 days of Associate Level Training with Susie:

Valerie: There were many moments during training that made me think, "That makes so much sense, why have I not been doing it!" One of those moments was when studying the brain and the need for visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning...so easy for a teacher to do--but I just didn't know that I should do it.

CSC: Describe your experience at the Camp in Bakersville, working hours and hours every day, somewhat in seclusion...as you immersed yourself in the world of OG:

Valerie: We worked very hard during the 10 days at Camp. Most days we worked from 8 am until 5 pm, a few nights until 7-8pm, and then the infamous night of 1:30am when most of us had to retake a quiz. Susie worked us hard, but was always supportive and encouraging. She often said that if we were not learning then she was not teaching and would teach it a different way. I really think being at camp, completely submerged in OG, was a true benefit. There was always another trainee to ask questions, study with, or help with homework. I learned so much from my fellow trainees.

CSC: What did you learn or realize that was most surprising to you? Perhaps something you had never considered before...

Valerie: I learned that I can use Orton Gillingham with all kids, not just those with dyslexia. I learned the great reasons behind teaching cursive (which I thought was old-school and something unnecessary to teach in our current technological age). I learned that cursive is quicker, more fluid, and helps students get their ideas onto paper much more easily. At home, I am teaching my 7 year olds cursive and require my 9 year old son to do all his homework in cursive.

CSC: How will you use your OG training?

Valerie: I am currently tutoring my twins 5 days a week with Orton Gillingham. I began tutoring my first student on October 30th. I plan to begin my practicum in January 2014.

Mitchell-Buncombe Nonprofits Partner for WNC Children

jumping This article was originally published in local papers.

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.

Harlem Shake Meets Camp Spring Creek

Ladies and Gentlemen....drums, please... The Harlem Shake video has finally been accessed from our "archives" and is ready for public viewing. Help us celebrate the conclusion of another successful summer season at Camp Spring Creek by getting your groove on:

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We're taking a week off (the blog). But posts will resume with a twice weekly schedule (occasional exceptions) next week. Thanks, as always, for following along!

Week 8 Reflections

The end of summer is always such a bittersweet time of year for us at Camp Spring Creek. We've saiStonesd our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch. We've cleaned and swept and cleaned some more. We've taken our last group photos and squeezed Mimi one last time (well, you guys did--we get to live with her all year!). But before all that, we did stick to business and wrap a few things up during Week 8 with:

  • Final testing
  • Making paste paper journals
  • Finishing up all our clay and woodshop projects
  • Selecting a Room Inspection winner daily (instead of at the end of the week) and rewarding them with freezy pops at lunchtime.

By now, our campers have headed down new paths...back home, readying for a new school year, dreaming of next summer. Our hearts are with you and please call or email us at any time!

 

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!

Week 7 Reflections

CIT Greg at "Nerd Dance" We're in the home stretch of summer here at Camp Spring Creek and so much has happened, at times it feels like a blur. We said goodbye to campers Miles and Matthew last week and miss them both. Meanwhile, CIT Gregg (who came at the midpoint of summer), has been enjoying his new role and is thrilled that he got to overlap a little bit with Marco, who was our CIT for the first half of summer. These two first met a Camp Spring Creek as campers and have known each other for years! Greg has been helping out in the boy's cabins, assisting with lifeguarding, kitchen prep, and sometimes even woodshop and art. "I’ve been taking a lot of kids down to breakfast in the morning or helping them get ready for bed at night," Greg said. "I also make sure they brush their teeth and make their beds right."

Here's the run down of last week's news:

  • Rain, rain, and more rain. But still, we swim! We hike! We laugh!
  • Campers have been making ceramic mugs and vases in Art class and finishing up bird houses, doll houses, and bird feeders in the Woodshop.
  • We changed our Outdoors Class around a bit. Rather than having this class peppered throughout the day with small groups of campers, we now enjoy Outdoor Class together. For the final period of classes, everyone in camp gathers and chooses from several outdoor options, giving them exposure to more fun activities over a longer span of time. Lately, we've been offering rock climbing, paintballing, water polo, hiking, and basic lifeguarding skills. After Outdoor Class, everyone piles inside for Study Hall to wind down our day before dinnertime.
  • Epic games of Capture the Flag still continue...
  • And our "Announcements" song has gotten a makeover. We still have 7 verses going (one for every week of camp), but we've changed them up a bit and moved things around to keep it interesting. Phew! Just singing the song is a workout in and of itself!
  • This weekend we camped at the McDowell Nature Preserve, went wild with whitewater rafting, and even experimented with ziplining and mega jumping. Who knew there we so many different ways to have a roarin' good time--and with good friends, too!
  • Sunday, everyone went on the infamous hike to the top of the property, which involves 2-3 hours of brave bushwhacking through nettles and brambles (it's fun, we swear!). Up top, we took a break, then took the easy way home down an old logging road. Great job, everyone! Time to hit the showers!
  • Sunday night concluded with an impromptu game of poker between the boys' cabins. In the end, the winning camper earned his prize by deciding that the boys in the losing cabin would make his bed every morning for an entire week!
  • Another bonus has been Chef Kevin and Nurse Kelly's sweet, lab puppy named Oliver ("Ollie" for short). Mimi's a giant compared to this lil' pup but we have a feeling that by next summer, these two will be unstoppable giants. It's been delightful to watch them "growing up" together at camp this summer and we'll try to post a photo soon.