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.”

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.

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!

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."

Happy New Year!

We are back from the holidays and 2013 is starting off with excitement.  We are putting together more camp reunions, planning more training, continuing to work with our local schools and getting excited for what this summer will have in store.  Along with this, Susie is meeting with a few people this week to talk about more grants to help give more students success. If you would like topics discussed please email us at and we will be happy to spend some time answering questions.  You may not be the only one asking the question.

Hope everyone had a wonderful holidays and a great start to the New Year.

Walmart State Giving Program Grant

photo2This article was originally published in the Mitchell County News Journal.

Camp Spring Creek received a grant from the Walmart State Giving Program to continue working towards closing the reading gap in Mitchell County. Camp Spring Creek originally received funding from a local organization to train three Mitchell County teachers in the Orton-Gillingham philosophy and with the success from that first training, Camp Spring Creek applied for and received a $25,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina to further the teacher training program in 2010. This summer, Camp Spring Creek was awarded the $25,000 grant from Walmart to continue working with local teachers to help students become better readers, writers, and spellers.

The Orton-Gillingham approach is personalized, diagnostic and prescriptive, recognizing each student as a unique learner. There is no "one size fits all" solution nor is it a packaged program for method. The Orton-Gillingham philosophy complements and enhances many research-based curricula.

Teachers that utilize this approach, adding it to their instructional methods, are able to tailor the program to meet the needs and learning styles of each student or small group of students.

In addition, flexibility is built into the approach. Practitioners know that each child will reach different stages at different times. As a result, the students flourish and learn at a speed that is right for them and in a way that is right for them.

Deyton Elementary School exceptional children's teacher Priscilla Dunn stated, "We've never seen gains in reading skills like we have in 2011, with so much mentoring. Multi-sensory language instruction enhances the curriculum we have and allows us to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all children. My students love the fast pace and the multiple ways to show their skills and the patterns they are discovering in words."

A sixth grade student at Bowman Middle School said, "This is the first time I've ever heard a teacher explain how language I get it!" Another student, a third grader at Gouge Elementary stated, "I like the personal spelling lists. I can take as long a I need until I get a word and fly through the ones that are easy for me!"

Camp Spring Creek Outreach Training Center is hosting an Orton-Gillingham Associate Level Training Course Oct. 10-Dec. 19, on Monday and Thursday afternoons from 4-8pm. This associate level course is funded by the Walmart State Giving Program and is open to any interested Mitchell County teacher who would be able to implement the Orton-Gillinghamn curriculum in their classroom. This is the basic course in the Orton-Gillingham approach that enables you to instruct with better understanding of the structure of language and multisensory teaching.

The course includes an in-depth introduction to phonology, structure of English, characteristics of dyslexia, multisensory teaching, assessment tools, grammar and written expression and interactive demonstrations, and activities to use the approach.

A practicum can be arranged to a limited amount of teachers wanting to implement best practices in reading instruction, along with opportunities for team teaching, demonstration, and teacher observation.

This training will be hosted at the Outreach Training Center in Spruce Pine. Interested teachers may join the training on any day but in order to receive course completion, participants would need to attend each session. There is a limit of 10 teachers on any given day. Light refreshments will be provided.

To register, visit Camp Spring Creek's website at to download the registration form or call the camp office at 828-766-5032. A complete registration form is required to reserve your spot in the training. Also, you can find out more about Orton-Gillinghamn or Camp Spring Creek on the camp website.