summer camp

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!


Susie on Summertime

1000346_10201835018062970_515520756_n We took a few minutes to ask Susie about "summer slide" and any tips she might have for our readers--be you fans and supporters from afar, grandparents checking on your child at camp, or one of our many local followers dedicated to providing well-rounded educational experiences for your children. Here's a quick note from our co-director:

Summer is a season when children can spend more time playing, learning their own limitations, and problem solving in areas they feel drawn to. Society doesn’t allow much time for imagining anymore, but that is an important skill and we need to encourage our kids to dream. We also need to provide opportunities for our kids to develop critical thinking. At Camp Spring Creek, we want to keep our childrens' academic skills from sliding during the summer, but we value our outdoor time as much as our tutoring time.

For those reading our blog from afar, if your child has a natural interest in something, summer is perfect for devoting time to developing that interest. Be it cooking, hiking, building, or dancing—whatever their passion, there’s always a way to incorporate basic educational skills and keep it fun. This interest need not be an expensive hobby or something that requires high-tech equipment. Whatever they choose, we need to encourage our kids to dream and then reach for those dreams.

At the end of every school year, I take our children to a bookstore and let them pick a book that interests them for summer reading. If you can’t afford to buy a book, go to your local library and borrow a book. Most libraries have books on CD, which you can listen to while you’re taking a trip in the car or while you are sitting by a brook in the shade.

During the early years (and also in adult life), is important to build meaningful relationships and reflect on those relationships. We have always encouraged our children to write to family and friends during summertime and, often, they get mail in return. If a friend has moved away or a grandparent or other relative lives far away, this is a wonderful way to stay connected while also getting writing practice. Journaling is a private way to keep writing active and kids can get very creative with their journals, pasting in items and photos from different activities they have enjoyed.

In short, our golden rule: Get outside, play with friends, learn a new skill, dream, and write to your grandparents; like summer, they won’t be around forever.

Why We Eat Family-Style at Camp


"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."


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.

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.


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!

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

Win a Camp Spring Creek Chair!

Win this chair! We're holding a little contest on the blog, starting now through December 31, 2013: Like our page on Facebook and then send that page a Facebook message telling us which "Inspiring People" blog post inspired you the most. We'll enter you into a drawing to win this Camp Spring Creek chair!

Use the link above to read the posts, or access them using Categories on the right-hand side bar. Be sure to tell us why you felt inspired by what you read and feel free to share this contest with friends! Anyone can enter!

Winner will be notified via Facebook on New Year's Eve!


Summer Camps for Children with Dyslexia

Today's blog post is written by Camp Spring Creek's very own, Susie van der Vorst. Susie originally wrote this for The Fortune Academy's blog, Oaks & Anecdotes, which published it last February. Enjoy! Residential summer camps are a great way to build independence and self-confidence. Whether a child needs a shorter experience at a sleep-away recreational camp or the intense immersiphpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpgon of Orton-Gillingham instruction along with the confidence boosting camp activities, there is an experience that will keep them from lagging behind in the summer. By attending an accredited OG summer program a child can not only maintain the growth he or she has achieved, but often gain in skills during the summer months, providing a springboard for success in the fall. There are three residential summer programs that are accredited by the AOGPE: Camp Dunnabeck, Camp Spring Creek, and Durango Mountain Camp. Each camp is similar, and as one who has worked at all three camps, I can briefly describe each camp.

Camp Dunnabeck is the oldest camp of its kind. It was founded in 1955. At Dunnabeck the residential campers are generally ages 11-16 with day students from 6-11. Recreational activities include horseback riding, water skiing, tennis, art, and several other stimulating activities.

Durango Mountain Camp was established nearly two decades ago and caters to older residential campers (11-17) who are sports enthusiasts. Along with the 1:1 OG tutoring, Durango suits the older, thrill-seeking youths who want the adrenaline rush of extreme sports to help develop creativity, enhance self-esteem, foster individual strengths and generate a great deal of enthusiasm.

Camp Spring Creek is the direct result of experiences at Dunnabeck and Durango Mountain Camp. Susie and Steve van der Vorst met at Dunnabeck in 1990 and worked together there for four summers.  We started Camp Spring Creek offering an approach for the “whole” child, including OG tutoring, life skills and activities such as wood shop, swimming, art, camping, hiking, water skiing, rock climbing, and archery.

Often geographical location can play a large role as well. Most important is to find a place where the child feels safe and can make the most progress possible. For those living in Indianapolis, Fortune Academy’s B.R.I.T.E summer camps are a valuable option.

In Her Own Words: Scholarshop Sponsor Thank You

Dear Sponsor, I have learned a lot at camp, such as the butterfly stroke in swimming and how to divide words easily, so I can read better. I am learning to make a xylophone in woodshop. I have enjoyed doing swimming and art everyday and the zipline.

I could not have done a lot of stuff if I had not come to camp. I could not have gone rock climbing or done pottery or archery or met new people from all over the world and country.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love camp and camp is so much fun. Thank you.

[4-week female camper, 11 years old]


In Her Own Words: Scholarship Sponsor Thank You

Dear Sponsor, I have learned a lot this summer. I learned how to hold my pencil correctly, new words, b/d's, how to read better, and cursive! I have enjoyed art. I liked working with clay. I have enjoyed woodshop where I have made my name, a book, a box, a birdhouse, yo-yo and a candy dispenser. I love playing fun games in tutoring! I made a lot of new friends. I would not have the chance to do woodshop at home or meet new people from all over the world! Thank you so, so much!


[female camper, 8 years old]


In Their Own Words: Adeline's Family

AdelineThis summer, camper Adeline participated in our Orton-Gillingham/Camp Counselor pilot program designed to benefit Mitchell County children. For four weeks, Adeline spent 2 hours at camp each day: one hour with her OG tutor and another hour participating in camp activities. "One day Adeline came home and for entertainment she actually enjoyed making the flashcards," said her mother Tonya. "She made me a whole set and then she asked me, 'Mom, would you buy me some more 3x5 cards?' She'd never done anything like that before. We really appreciate what Steve and Susie and Camp Spring Creek did for us."

Adeline is now in 7th grade at a local school. Her parents have lived here for over twenty years and love the Western North Carolina community. "It's refreshing here. I cannot imagine raising our girls anywhere else in the world," said Tonya. "We appreciate having a yard and such a beautiful view and land for animals and a garden. We have fruit trees, fresh asparagus, fresh flowers...We love it here."

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 For information on teacher training, camp, or tutoring opportunities through Camp Spring Creek, call 828-766-5032 or visit

In Their Own Words: Scholarship Sponsor Thank You's

This summer, Camp Spring Creek and OpenDoors of Asheville provided 4 jointly-funded full scholarships for 4 Buncombe County children to attend camp for a month. Learn more about OpenDoors by reviewing our inspiring interview with Executive Director Jennifer Ramming here. Meantime, enjoy these camper thank you letters: Dear Sponsor,

Thank you for helping me to go to camp. I love to go camping now. I learned how to read better. Also, tapping helps with my spelling. I did not know that you could make so many things out of wood. Thank you so much.


[Female camper, 11 years old]

Dear Sponsor,

Thank you for my time at camp. I have made lots of friends and some of them are from different places. My tutor is cool and she taught me cursive. We learn new things everyday. My reading is improving and my tutor is making reading a lot easier and all this happened because of OpenDoors and Camp Spring Creek.


[Female camper, 10 years old]

Dear Sponsor,

Thank you for helping me come here. I am having so much fun at this camp. I'm really glad. I came to do whitewater rafting at this camp. I am a better reader now and I met new people. Thank you.


[Male camper, 10 years old]

In Their Own Words: Tyler & his Mom

TylerThis summer, Tyler attended camp full time for six weeks on a scholarship funded by Rotary Club and Camp Spring Creek, among other sources. Tyler is now in 7th grade. His mother, Rebecca, had this to say about her son's experience: "I feel very blessed that Tyler got to go to camp. It really changed not just his reading ability, but also his confidence and attitude about learning. Now he’s more motivated and eager to learn because he has the tools he needs. He wants to go back to Camp Spring Creek every year. It was a wonderful, wonderful experience for him...As far as Tyler’s opinion: he loved camp. When he got home, he told me wanted to go back to camp. He said he hopes to go again next year and eventually help out at Camp Spring Creek and be able to help other kids once he learns enough. He was really happy that he got the help that he needed to assist him with school."

In His Own Words: Zachary

ZacharyThis summer, camper Zachary participated in our Orton-Gillingham/Camp Counselor pilot program designed to benefit Mitchell County children. For four weeks, Zachary came to camp for 2 hours each day: one hour spent with his OG tutor and another hour spent participating in camp activities. "This was Zachary's first time attending a camp like this," said his mother Meredith, "and before it started he was already looking forward to it. He finished and said he hopes to return. We are so grateful and appreciative of the opportunity he was given.” Zachary, who is in 4th grade, worked with Lilja, who was a trained OG tutor and our camp lifeguard. “I had a great time," he said. "I learned a lot of stuff. I even learned how to swim.” Zachary also came home raving about his experiences in Woodshop and trying out the zip-line.

When asked about the kinds of changes Meredith noticed in her son, she had this to say: “I was very impressed with the progress that he made in such a short period of time. I was very excited when I saw the final report that Lilja wrote up and printed out. Self-confidence was an issue with our son and I was concerned about his ability to read fluently. I definitely noticed a difference in his confidence as a reader since attending camp.”

Part of Camp Spring Creek's mission is to make the tutoring and camp experience accessible to even more children from Western North Carolina, whether through grant or donor funding. This pilot program marks a big step in the right direction and we are so excited to be expanding our "local family" in this way. To spotlight what makes life so great here, we're also asking each of our local families what it is they love about living in WNC. Meredith says, "Number one, I love the beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Appalachian Mountains. Also, the kindness that is displayed among the people that live here is just remarkable. Sometimes, when you go to a bigger city, there’s not necessarily a colder feel, but people just don’t know each other like they do when they live in a smaller town. This is home to us.”

Ben's Story

BenBen is 10 years old and first attended Camp Spring Creek in 2012. In 2013, he and his family were delighted that he would be able to come back. Unfortunately, a change of plans in late spring prevented Ben from being able to attend. Ben and his family decided make his camp spot available to a Western North Carolina child. The silver lining is that, not only did a Mitchell County child get to experience Camp Spring Creek for the first time, but Ben will be able to return next summer. We can't wait to give him a warm welcome back!

Of his experience at camp last year, his mother shared: "Ben had a really great time. It was important for us to find a camp where he could continue the academic work he focused on during the school year, but still also be a kid. The thing we noticed the most was that his handwriting had vastly improved. He also gained a lot of confidence in reading."

In Her Own Words: Kay Oliver

First year-ChaseThis testimonial came our way from Kay Oliver, parent of 4-week camper, Chase. Chase came to us as a reluctant camper, and had a complete turnaround. He loved his time at Camp Spring Creek! In fact, when he got home, he decided that he was ready to move on from homeschool and apply to...[read on!]... I want to thank you for making this one of the best summers ever for Chase. Your camp and counselors and tutors, especially Lissa Jo, have restored our hope for Chase’s education. Chase’s progress exceeded all of our expectations. We are thrilled that he has a new desire to learn. His confidence continues to amaze us.

We have decided to apply for admission to The Kildonan School. Chase has told us he really wants to attend. We are so thankful for all of you.

~Kay Oliver

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:


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!