Camper Blog Takeover!

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My Experience at Camp So Far

By Gus

I got out of school on May 24th. The first weekend I packed to go to Hawaii. My family and I took three plane rides to Hawaii. That’s ten hours of plane riding. After many boring hours, we arrived in Hawaii, which looks a lot like Florida at first glance. We rode back to America after 7 days in paradise. I only had 16 days until I was to go to this camp, so all that I did was tell everyone about my trip, went to a couple of movies, hanging out with friends, and rearranged my room. My mom and I drove to the camp and stayed at a hotel. We also went to the Alien Festival and got some diamonds. When I first arrived here I was a little scared, but it's ok now. I have had a lot of fun so far in my third week out of my four-week session here. 

Two weeks ago, I thought camp was going to be like school but with different activities. But that's not what it's like. On the weekends we do a bunch of fun stuff like hiking to a waterfall, playing in Bakersville, having campfires, camping, roller skating, fishing, and much more. And on Sundays we have a slide show of all the photos we've taken over the week.

During the weekdays, it's also fun. You get to bond with peers and make more friends and every night after dinner we do something new and fun. Some of the daily activities are fun, too, like woodworking, art, swimming and outdoors. The food is great and we have three meals per day. The tutoring here is better in helping my dyslexia than most places I have been to. For my first year at this camp,  I love it. We take busses to everywhere we go and we listen to great music from the past. We have a dance near the end of the camp and I’ve heard it’s the best part of the camp and I can't wait for it. I've made many friends so far and hope to make more. CAMP SPRING CREEK ROCKS. 

Camp Spring Creek

by Olivia

Camp Spring Creek is amazing! It is so transformational. I came here my first year when I was 8 years old. Then I wasn’t even reading at a kindergarten level in third grade. Now I am 11 years old and excelling in reading, writing, and school. I have A’s in every class including English and Latin. Camp really changed me for the best. I’ve made so many friends here that I am still in contact with even if they live in different places.

The staff here are great. The counselors are outstanding! They encourage you, support you, and make you laugh. Camp makes you confident, and not afraid to be different, stand up for yourself and others, and dream big. I used to not think I was smart enough to dream, but now I want to be a New York Times best- selling author of two novels not including the one I want to write before I’m 14.

Camp is wonderful. We do relaxing things and adventurous ones. We float down rivers in tubes, we go water skiing. We go camping and we go fishing. Tutoring is great. My tutor, Ishani, is making learning fun and interesting. Sometimes we stand and sometimes me sit. She changes it every day. We do all sorts of activities in everything every day. Camp Spring Creek is life changing. It changed me for the best.

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by Jackson

“Jackson, you’re going to Camp Spring Creek.”

“What? That’s not fair. I don’t want to go.”

 Three Weeks later (On a plane to Charlotte, NC)

 “So, Jackson, are you excited for camp?” asks Dad.

“Nooo, I don’t want to go. Do I have to go?”

 Three Days Later

I was there all by myself at first. I tried to stay to myself, but I just couldn’t. I’m too social for that. I could never stay to myself for a whole month. I had to make friends and quickly before people started grouping up and I got left out. I made friends pretty quickly. I am a likable person and I was like the cool guy overnight.

First came seating assignments, but little did I know, I got lucky. I had two of the nicest people at camp at my table.Jose and Abby are the chefs at camp. They are the best. They cook three meals a day for around 50 people for eight weeks. Now, that is amazing if I’ve ever seen it. And it’s not cafeteria food where they just plop stuff on your plate. This is like when your grandmother cooks Thanksgiving and you eat as much as possible and you are about to pass out from too much food. Me, Abby, and Jose are all friends. That’s why on Sunday I get extra ice cream. That’s why Jose and Abby are the two best people at camp. 

Dyslexia and Camp

by Jake

Dyslexia is a  general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that does not affect general intelligence. This is the definition of dyslexia, but this does not define me or anyone. Muhammad Ali, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg, Agatha Christie, Cher, Jim Carrey all  have dyslexia, but has this stopped them in their fame? No, it hasn't. Just because they learn differently and think differently doesn't mean one can define them by this one term! My name is Jake, and I have dyslexia. Although I have dyslexia and although I have trouble reading and spelling, there are places for people like me or possibly you to correct your skills. These places are all over the country, but the one place that people come from all over the world is in Bakersville NC.  This camp is called Camp Spring Creek. 

Life at Camp

by Lauchlin

My name is Lauchlin, and I also go to Camp Spring Creek. It is a great camp to learn and play. They have one-to-one tutoring, art and crafts, typing, swimming, wood shop, and outdoors. The tutors help you with your spelling and reading. In arts and crafts we do a different project every week. In typing we do the ABC’s with our eyes closed. In swimming we learn different techniques needed to improve our hand-to-eye coordination. In woodshop we make boxes, trophies, and other objects. Woodshop also helps us in math and measuring. When we have outdoors, it is fun for us and it helps our relationship with the other campers and nature. We also go on crazy field trips.  During our weekend time, we get to do different fun and challenging activities like roller skating, and tubing. We get to do things that challenge us mentally and physically which makes us very happy. 

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Book Reviews

by Emma

Some of the books that I have enjoyed are Stolen Girl, A Whole New World, and A Sucky Love Story. I enjoyed the book Stolen Girl because it was about someone who lived during WWII, and I find those stories very interesting and educational. I enjoyed the book A Whole New World because it was an alternate version of The Little Mermaid. I love Disney and I loved hearing a new story that was very exciting. I enjoyed the book A Sucky Love Story was a true story about a girl who got in an abusive relationship, and it's about her survival. I enjoy nonfiction books a lot, so I was very interested in the book.

Meet the Counselors: Daisy Lee

We’re so excited to introduce you to Daisy Lee, joining us from the UK! When she’s not on the tennis court, she might be found at the beach, exploring the world, or curled up with a good book. She loves working with kids of all ages and we know our campers are going to love getting to know her this summer!

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Tell us a little bit about where you live and where you grew up.

I grew up in a small village in the countryside in Norfolk, England with my parents and two sisters where I developed my love for the beach. I also attended a convent school for 11 years, for my sins. : ) 

What do you do during the school year? 

When I was 18, I moved to Chester and attended the University of Chester to study Psychology. On completing this, I moved to Winchester to study Sport and Exercise Psychology at the university there. This year, I am having a delayed gap year to travel and gain work experience. I started in Sri Lanka in March of this year. Alongside this, I waitress and tennis coach children from the ages of four years upwards.

How would your friends describe your personality? 

I’m not sure, but hopefully fun-loving with a healthy dose of conscientiousness and competitiveness. 

 What do you like to do in your free time? 

I love spending time with my friends and family whether it is at home or on holiday. I also love art and all sports but particularly tennis, which I have been playing since I was about 5 years old. Reading is also a passion of mine with this quote by George R. R. Martin being one that has stuck with me.

             “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.”

What’s something campers would be surprised to find out about you?

I might take a little while to get to know and understand my British sense of humor, but when you do hopefully, we will all leave with abs from laughing! Also, I can play the drums but stereotypically, probably don’t look like I should.

What’s a game or skill you’re excited about sharing with campers this summer? 

 Although I don’t think tennis is part of Camp Spring Creek I’m excited to share knowledge of the sport I love especially with Wimbledon happening while we’re at camp.

What can campers do to make you smile? 

Work hard and play hard, have a laugh and embrace all of the opportunities you have.

What should they avoid doing around you? What is your favorite outdoor activity? 

Both bickering and confrontation I dislike, so the less of this the better. I wouldn’t say I have one outdoor activity that is my favorite. I love to try new things—from hiking mountains to cliff jumping, I will give it all a go.

What advice can you give to campers to have a great summer away from home? 

Bring something that reminds you of home-everyone gets homesick at some point. But also have a go at everything because there’s no harm in trying, and this is a great way to meet and make new friends. Also, if you’re struggling never be afraid to come and let us know. We’re probably not as scary as we look.

What are your hopes for this summer?

For this to be a summer I never forget in the best possible way (sorry for the cliché)!

Meet the Tutor: Ishani Bickley

Great news! Tutor Ishani Bickley is returning to camp this summer! This will be Ishani’s third summer at camp (after two summers in a row 2016 and 2017, she took 2018 off). Ishani also served as Camp Spring Creek’s caretaker during the winter of 2017. She is beloved at camp for her commitment to her students, her sense of humor and of course her great fashion sense! Ishani has just returned from a three-month meditation retreat in Ecuador, where she got to practice her Spanish and do some organic gardening as well. Ishani tells us more about herself below. Welcome back, Ishani!

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How did you become interested in tutoring and Orton-Gillingham?

I was a nanny for a family in Winston-Salem for seven years. I was working as a volunteer tutor at The Augustine Literacy Project, an amazing program that offers tutoring for at-risk kids who are identified as non-readers. I worked with them for two or three years, but didn’t have formal training. In the process of looking for someone to train with, I learned about Susie from the chair of the Augustine and the mother of the family I worked for. I came to a training in March of 2016. Afterward, Susie offered me a job. 

What do you love most about working at camp?

I really love seeing the campers’ confidence grow. When a child doesn’t feel smart, it’s the hardest thing.  When they stop resisting the process something happens. They start to believe in their ability to think. There’s a different sparkle that happens. Seeing that is what I love and what got me hooked on doing this. 

What is it about the one-to-one approach that makes this possible? 

It’s the most powerful way to share. The campers let me see how hard it is for them. They share with me how they’re feeling. I earn their trust and that opens up a lot of possibilitiesI have a deep interest in meditation, and I can’t help but share the essence of that with them. Part of us knows and doesn’t doubt. If we can relax into that part of us, our minds and our brains can be ready for something new. 

What are some of your best memories from camp? 

Laughing and having success. One student gave me a buddy bead at lunch for a future trip to Australia that I ended up taking later. 

What might campers be surprised to learn about you?

I love trying to speak new languages. I try to learn as many words as I can in every language I come into contact with. Part of what I was doing in Ecuador was trying to improve my Spanish. I’m also a certified in mushroom identification, which means I can legally forage for and sell those mushrooms!

What are you looking forward to the most this summer? 

 I love jumping off the rock in the creek holding hands with whoever will do it with me! I love seeing how smart and great the kids are. I love sharing with them how hard and easy everything is, and laughing with them. I look forward to showing them how to kick an Australian football! 

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Meet the Volunteers: Jonna Terleth-Bertram and Kothar Terleth

We’re excited to introduce you to a very special couple who will join us at camp this summer: Jonna Terleth-Betram and Kothar Terleth. In the interview below, Jonna tells us about long friendship with Steve, about the fascinating business she and Kothar operated for 20 years in France, and about what she’s most looking forward to this summer. We are thrilled that Jonna and Kothar will be at camp this year and we know that they’ll bring a wonderful spirit to our community. Please join us in welcoming Jonna and Kothar!

Kothar and Jonna and their children Yeelen and Yoram.

Kothar and Jonna and their children Yeelen and Yoram.

I understand that you and Steve grew up to together. Can you tell us more? How did you meet?

Steve and I went to the same high school, but Steve—being a few years older—was in a different class. The thing I liked best about him was his motorcycle. He really had the coolest bike in the whole school! My best friend Marieke not only liked his bike—she liked all of him! And since we were younger than he was, we had to hang out in places where he would "happen" to pass by. Well, it paid off; Steve noticed Marieke and they started dating and the three of us would do plenty of things together: listen to music, go to parties, go see each other's games (Steve played rugby, we played hockey) and go out dancing. Steve adored Ska music and knew the lyrics of numerous Madness songs by heart. At some time Marieke, and he stopped dating but we never stopped being friends.

Can you tell us one of your favorite memories of time spent with Steve and his family?

The funny thing is that my favorite memories of Steve are not so much found in time spent wíth him but more spent in our time apart. They are in the letters I got from him and in which he was telling me what he had seen and done, whom he had met and what he would like to do next. They are in the soul—his soul— which he put in those letters. We both traveled a lot when we were young and we used to write each other about our experiences during our travels. It was through his eyes and voice that I learned about Camp Dunnabeck, about Australia, about his fellow counselors and later, through emails, about his wonderful family, about camp, and the life he had built for himself. When I read his letters now, it is as if he is sitting right next to me telling me what he sees and feels because letters are so personal; it is as if I can hear his voice.  

I understand that you operated a holiday home in France. Can you tell us about that? 

Yes, in 1993 we bought two large old farms that had been used since the 60s as a "colonie de  vacances" or summer camps for children. We started renovating them in our holidays from work, because my husband and I both still held jobs in Holland. In 1997, when our son was six months old, we moved to France permanently. We lived in a part of one of the property and we built holiday apartments in the remainder and rented them out to holiday guests (mostly families). Later, we also received a lot of groups, who came for a course (clowning, painting, cello, etc.) or a business-related training. We could have up to 20 people. For these groups, we catered as well. We loved our work and received some 10,000 guests over the twenty years. We had a lot of fun, we met a lot of lovely people, and we have some crazy stories to tell about all that has happened during our work. However, it also meant a lot of maintenance and a lot of work. Our son and daughter both left home to study elsewhere and we figured out that we like to do "new" things in life. So after twenty years, we decided to sell. In 2001, we had already bought a third (smaller) old farmhouse 600 meters from the other two, and we rented that one out as a holiday house as well. After we sold our house and the operational business last year, we moved there and that's where we are living now!

Have you been to camp or to the US before? 

I have never been to camp. When I was young in Holland, we didn’t have anything like camp. But I have been to the US. My husband and I traveled through the Rockies together in 1990 and we visited the Grand Canyon with our children in 2007. In 2003, together with my daughter Yeelen, I looked up a friend of mine who lived in New Orleans at that time.

Spending the summer at camp is such a wonderful gift. How did you come to the decision to do so? 

It had been ages that I wanted to visit Steve, Susie, and the kids because Steve had told me so much about camp and I really longed to see what he had built. There were a lot of similarities in the paths of life and work we had both chosen.

Yeelen, our daughter, preceded us because Steve and Susie had given her the wonderful opportunity to spend five weeks at camp in 2013 as a "counselor in training" and she had returned with wonderful stories. Because we wanted to make it a longer trip and preferably in summer, a visit was impossible while still operating our holiday home. So when we had sold, I told Steve that visiting camp was the very first thing on our agenda. And just after that he passed away.

Of course I was in contact with Susie and the children and I asked them if they would like it if Kothar (my husband) and I would come over this year, not only to visit, but during camp to help out where we could. We have always liked to roll up our sleeves and thought that we could be of use. We were very happy when they accepted. So camp; here we come!!

What is something campers/staff will be surprised to learn about you? 

I love to dance! So I'm so happy to have read that Beth, one of the counselors, loves Celtic dancing (I hope she will teach me). And there is another counselor who has also trained as a professional dancer, I think. So I hope that we will all dance a lot this year.

Oh, and I also have a degree in English which I obtained at the University of Nancy in France.

What are you looking forward to most about this summer?

Oh, so many things!

Being around Susie, Marguerite, Olson, and Anina a little bit longer and hopefully getting to know them better.

Having the opportunity to do the Orton-Gillingham training, to learn more about dyslexia, and to help campers overcome difficulties they might have because of it.

To read out loud with campers and to read to campers (I love to read and I love to hear my own voice ;-)) I love books, I love writing letters, and I love reading.

I look forward to being in the wonderful Blue Ridge Mountains (I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures from Anina) and I really, really look forward to see camp where Steve spent so many happy years.

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Meet the Counselors: Kuba Hernik

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Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small city about 100 km from the capital, Warsaw. To be honest, there isn’t much to do there because the city is in more of an industrial area, so my friends and I always had to be creative with organizing our free time. The good thing about living there is that it’s in the central part of the country. You are able to easily travel to the mountains, or go to Warsaw, whether you want to spend time more actively or just grab a taste of the city lifestyle.

What do you do during the school year? 

During the year I focus on studying. I was studying Spanish and next year I plan to start learning Chinese, which for sure will be a huge challenge. I also travel a lot, trying to go abroad a couple of times a year. I always go to different countries in order to learn about new cultures.

Have you ever worked at a camp or with kids before?

Two years ago, I started working at a big hotel in Spain as an entertainer, switching weekly between working with kids and adults. I spent three months there and I liked it so much that the next year I decided to repeat the experience. We had a great time and I will always have great memories from that period.

What were you like as a child?

As a child I was always very active, spending entire days outside playing with other kids. I used to go to two different camps every holiday. One would be a basketball camp, and the other one more like hiking camp, where we were exploring the area and going for long trips. 

 What’s your favorite group game/activity or sport? 

My favorite group sport is definitely basketball, as I spent my whole childhood playing it, but at the same time I’m a huge fan of football. In Poland, literally every kid plays football, wearing his favorite player’s jersey and trying to copy his signature moves. I always wore Ronaldinho’s or C. Ronaldo’s.

What do you like to do you in your free time?

I like to spend my free time with my friends, just hanging out or go to the gym, where I work out mostly with my brother. I also like to connect a little bit with the nature, hiking, or chill at the lake.

What about your culture and language are you excited to share with campers? 

It will be very interesting, because Polish is one of the most difficult languages to learn. I would like to share with all the campers about delicious Polish food and tell them about our everyday habits.

What do you think campers will be surprised to learn this summer? 

That even though we are from such different countries, we have so much in common and can learn from each other.

What advice can you give to campers about having a successful summer? 

I think the more you integrate with other campers, the better you will feel at camp and for sure you will fully appreciate the time spend with your new friends.

Meet the Counselors: Marlen Hahn

We’re so excited that Marlen Hahn will be joining us this summer as a girls’ counselor! This truly international young woman is multi-lingual and multi-talented. We’re already hoping for zumba in the pool house with Marlen leading the way! Please join us in welcoming Marlen!

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Where are you from? Tell us a little about where you grew up.

I grew up in Germany, Belgium, and France. My father works in the administration of the German armed forces. That's why I had the opportunity to grow up in three different countries. When I was four and a half years old, we moved to Belgium, where we lived at the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Forces in Europe. There I first attended an international kindergarten and after that, an international school. Afterwards, we moved to France, where I attended a French/international school as well. Since 2007, I’ve been back in Germany and live near Dortmund (and slightly miss my nomadic life).

What do you do during the school year?

I am in the fourth semester of studying English and economics to become a teacher for vocational schools. I spend most of my time during the year studying. But if there's time, I love to travel and to learn new things. 

Tell us a little about your family.

I am an only child. I live with my mom and she's my best friend. We're a great team and have a fabulous relationship. My dad doesn't live close to us, so I don't see him that often but we see each other a couple times a year. Even thought they’re not together, my parents get along with each other and we spend a lot of time with each other. 

 What do you like to do in your free time?

In 2015, doing Zumba became a passion for me. It helps to burn energy and to clear one's mind. I also love painting and reading. Because of my studies, I read more for university than for my own purposes. Once a week, I go swimming. If I see something beautiful, I have to capture it with the camera to make memories. Spending time with friends and my family is always fun and helpful. I think it's important to have people you can talk to. Besides talking, watching Disney movies and taking walks are also things I do for quality time with my friends. 

 What would campers be surprised to learn about you?

Even if I appear to be serious, the kids can have a lot of fun with me and can learn that I'm a warm-hearted, open-minded, and sensitive person. 

 What are you looking foward to sharing with campers about your life/culture this summer?

I look forward to comparing games I played as a child with those of the campers. And I also want to share language skills, if the kids are interested. A cultural exchange will be great and interesting! 

 What advice can you give to campers about being away from home?

It's totally normal that we miss our home and family. But the international staff is also far away from home, so we are all in the same situation. It's normal to feel sad sometimes, but we can talk about it whenever the kids want to. We will have fun and do our best to make this summer the best one so far so that we can talk and daydream about it with our family and friends at the end of summer. 

 What can the campers do to get on your good side?

Having fun, being themselves, and especially being honest is important. Even if the situation isn't that good, honesty will bring everyone forward. With fun and honesty, the summer will be a great one!

It doesn't matter if a child is more introverted or extroverted. As long as we are all ourselves, the work and life together will be marvelous!

 What do you hope to get out of this summer?

A lifetime experience! I think the time at camp will help me to grow and to learn new things about myself. I want to learn from the kids and my colleagues and have a great summer experience with a lot of fun together at camp and in nature. And at the end I hope that the kids will know that learning is a lifelong process. 

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Meet the Counselors: Reuben Bryant

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Next up in our Meet the Counselor series: Reuben Bryant! We’re thrilled to have another Scot on board. Reuben has the distinction of being the only international counselor we’ve had who not only knows about but has played American football! He’s not only sporty, but musical, too. We asked him to tell us a little more about himself here.

Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from?

I am from Aberdeen, Scotland, where I am a part of Aberdeen University. I am in my third year, studying History. I am also a staff manager of a club.

Have you ever worked at a summer camp or with kids before?

I have previously worked with adults and young teenagers in social care before. I used to help them read, write, and other everyday activities.

What made you want to come work at camp this summer?

I have friends take part in the experience and I have only heard positive things. This will also be my first time in the US, which I am very excited about!

What’s your favorite group game/activity/sport?

I have taken part in multiple sports. I have experience in boxing, mixed martial arts, soccer, rugby and American Football. I also have the intention of starting rock climbing in the near future.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love reading books from all sorts of genres. I also have a keen interest in cooking and music. I currently play guitar but I also want to learn drums and piano. My favourite genre of music is Soul, but I listen to a wide variety of music. Then in my spare time, I just love spending time with friends, often incorporating my hobbies and spending time with friends together.

How would your friends describe you?

I like to think I am a positive individual and I am sure my friends would say the same.

What are your hopes for this summer?

I am incredibly excited for the experience. I can't wait for everything it holds in store.

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Meet the Counselors: Peyton Yearick

We’re thrilled to welcome Peyton Yearick back to camp this summer! Last summer, Peyton served as camp nurse. This summer, he’ll be a boys’ counselor. Peyton is a pre-med student at Nashville’s Belmont University and has danced with the Nashville Ballet! He has lived in Spruce Pine since middle school, so he’s right at home at camp. We know that return campers will be excited that Peyton is also coming back. Peyton tells us a little more about himself below.

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You have a long history with the van der Vorst family - how did you meet?

I lived in Nashville, Tennessee before moving to Spruce Pine in the sixth grade. I first met Anina back in seventh grade. We were placed into the same science class and paired together as science partners. From that moment, we became inseparable and would hangout almost every afternoon—going to the park to play or just staying inside being crafty. Anina is my best friend and from this friendship I became close to her family. They are the most caring, genuine, and loving people I have ever met and I am so grateful for their support and friendship.

Did you ever think that you’d work at camp one day?

No, I never imagined myself working at camp. I was an active child growing up, mostly due to involvement with the local community theater, Parkway Playhouse and dancing at Appalachian Dance Theatre. Because of those extra curricular activities, my summers were all booked up! As I grew older my primary focus was on dancing, which led me to becoming a part of the second company of Nashville Ballet. It wasn’t until I became interested in medicine and saw the importance of helping others that I viewed working at Camp Spring Creek a wonderful opportunity. 

 What were some of the highlights of your first summer at Camp Spring Creek?

Oh, where to begin? There were so many highlight moments of my time at Camp Spring Creek last summer. One moment that stands out the most was going whitewater rafting. It was my first time rafting with the Nantahala Outdoor Center and being on the Nolichucky River. I was so excited to tackle the rapids with the help of the campers. I can’t wait to head back and experience all the fun I had again. Also, I can’t forget to mention the moment I saw the camper’s writing samples from their first day compared to their last. It was completely amazing and inspiring to see the overall improvement academically; all while enjoying the extra activities of camp life. 

What surprised most about the campers?

The campers who come to Camp Spring Creek are without a doubt brilliant, talented, and kind. It is so special to watch them continue their growth socially and academically during their time here. It is always sad to say goodbye, but knowing that you were a part of their journey is something to hold close to your heart. 

What are you looking forward to in your new role as counselor this year?

I’m looking forward to building new friendships with the staff, counselors, and campers. This will be my first time as a camp counselor and I am trilled for the opportunity. I can’t wait to become a lifeguard and lead some of the outdoor activities. My favorites are dodgeball and paintball.  

You’re a local. Give campers and counselors some insider tips on some of the best things to do near camp in the summer!

Some of my favorite things to do while I’m home is to hike the Roan Mountain with Anina and travel to Asheville, North Carolina to enjoy a little bit of the city life. I am thankful to live in such a beautiful scenic area. There are many trails to hike and explore. One of my favorite places to go is in Boone, North Carolina: Rough Ridge. It’s a beautiful hike that offers a gorgeous overlook onto the surrounding mountains. 

What advice can you give to campers coming to Camp Spring Creek for the first time?

My main advice would be to not be afraid to be yourself! Camp is going to be so much fun and I promise you are going to make so many new friends; some will even turn into life long friendships. Cherish each and every moment and never be afraid to ask for help from one of the staff members. 

Finish this sentence: On skit night, Peyton can probably be found…

On skit night, Peyton can probably be found laughing at all the creative and hilarious skits that the campers came up with. Last summer, we had so many talented campers! It’s going be fun watching all the creative skits this summer.

What should campers do to get on your good side?

You are guaranteed to be on my good side if you are simply enjoying each and every -day. Seeing you enjoy camp and having fun with your friends puts the biggest smile on my face.

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Meet the Counselors: Louise Farman

Next up in our Meet the Counselors series, it’s Louise Farman, who’ll be a girls counselor. Louise hails from Newcastle in the the north of England, so she’ll be regaling us with her Geordie accent (she explains more below)! In addition to working with kids, Louise has her nurse’s qualifications! She’s an adventurous spirit who’s up for anything from archery to arts and crafts. Harry Potter fans, don’t be jealous: the picture on the left is Louise at Durham Cathedral which you may remember from many of the Potter films! Please join us in welcoming Louise!

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Where are you from? Can you tell us a little about it and what it’s known for?

I’m from Newcastle in the Northeast of England. I live near the coast where there are beautiful beaches and the buzzing city center is just a short drive away. Newcastle is known to be one of the UK’s friendliest cities and for the 'Geordie' accent, so I will speak too fast and say strange words like 'why aye man' which means yes!

What do you do during the year?

I have recently started my job as a children’s nurse, I work on a ward in a hospital where I look after children with conditions that effect the kidneys, stomach and feeding. I love my job as a nurse as I provide care for children during health and illness, although my job is challenging everyday is different and it is extremely rewarding.

Tell us about your experiences working with children.

Throughout my nurse training (which was three years) I worked as a student nurse on many different children’s wards and also worked in schools for children with additional needs. I enjoy working with young people as despite being in hospital children are resilient and continue to have a smile on their face. I have also volunteered at a residential camp for children with long-term health conditions called ‘Over the wall.’ At camp I supported campers during activities such as archery and rock climbing and I threw myself into the activities. This amazing experience was one of many reasons why I’m excited to come to Camp Spring Creek.

What were you like as a child? Did you attend camp yourself?

 I was a happy child, outgoing, always smiling, laughing lots and would be found outdoors with my friends playing sports. I loved school because I enjoy learning new things and I had amazing friends, many of whom are my friends for life. I didn’t attend a camp, but I wish I could have because I am 100 percent sure I would have loved it!

What are your hobbies/what do you like to do during your free time?

I spend most of my free time with my friends and family and find ways to keep busy by going for walks, eating lots of food, and playing board games. I like swimming, baking and seeking out new activities and adventures. I tried bouldering with my friends for the first time the other day and although I found it difficult it was something new and fun to do.

Are there any games/activities that you’re looking forward to sharing with campers?

I enjoy playing sports such as netball and rounders that I can share. I like arts and crafts so I would love to see the campers get creative.  I am most looking forward to what you can teach me!

What advice can you give to campers about being away from home/being successful at camp? 

Being away from home may be difficult at times, but remember us camp counselors are also away from home. Come chat to us as talking to someone helps. I think it is important we all support each other. While at camp we all may miss home, but it is important to get involved and make the most of the experience. I am sure time will fly by and once you’re home, you will miss camp! Also, it is important to be yourself as everyone is a unique person and individuality should be embraced.

What can campers do to get on your good side? 

Definitely you can be in my good books by making me laugh (which isn’t difficult to do), whether that is telling me a joke or a funny story. Campers who are enthusiastic, smiling and join in with the fun.

What do you hope to get out of your summer at camp?

I am looking forward to experiencing all that camp has to offer, as it is something different to everyday life at home. I’m also interested in learning about American culture. I hope the experience allows me to learn new things about myself, but also learn some new skills. I hope I meet some amazing new people and make memories I will never forget.

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Meet the Counselors: Beth Revuelta

Each year, our campers look forward to finding out more about the awesome staff they’ll get to meet over the summer. We now have a full staff of counselors on board and we’re excited to introduce you to our first girls’ counselor: Beth Revuelta! This outgoing, red-haired Scotswoman is excited to share her experiences, enthusiasm and Scottish accent with our campers. Not only is she adventurous, fun-loving and a ceilidh dancer (Scottish dancing), she’s also dyslexic! We know that our campers will be in good hands with Beth, but they’ll also be inspired by her! Beth tells us a little about herself below. Please join us in welcoming Beth to the Camp Spring Creek family!

Beth and her mum, braving the elements!

Beth and her mum, braving the elements!

What made you interested in working at Camp Spring Creek?

Dyslexia is a big part of my identity and has had a huge role in shaping who I am as a person! Working at this camp is the step in the right direction for me. I’m interested in working in this area in the future because I feel dyslexic people have a lot of hidden potential! If we support dyslexic people in discovering and mobilizing all these hidden strengths the world could be a very different place!  

Have you worked at a camp or with kids before? 

Scotland doesn’t have the same summer camp culture as North America–probably because it’s too cold! So I have never worked at camp before but have plenty experience with children! I am a Girl Guide (Scout) leader, I used to be a volunteer leader at a deaf youth club and a disabled children’s play program. I am a Saltire Awards Ambassador, helping young people getting into volunteering and I was a part of the team rolling out our Toddler Festival at my work. 

What were you like as a child? Did you attend camp yourself? 

I did go to some international jamborees with my Girl Guides, one in the Queen’s garden at Windsor Palace-some of the best holidays of my life! 

I was energetic, out-going, and unique or “ploughed my own furrow” as my mum likes to say! I loved making friends and drama/acting (which turned out very important for my future!). I was a late bloomer, the difficulties with my dyslexia were very prominent–I couldn’t read the time till I was 14 and didn’t learn to spell my full name till last year! (Beth Siobhan Revuelta!) But I’ve came into my own in high school and adulthood! 

What do you do during the school year? 

I work at a tourist attraction in Edinburgh called Camera Obscura and World of illusions. It’s a museum of optical illusions. I like to watch people get lost in the mirror maze and zap each other with the plasma balls! The top of the building is a ginormous Victorian Periscope Camera Obscura that is 165 years old. I show people how this works and give them a tour of Edinburgh using it.

What passion of yours are you excited to share with campers? 

I really love acting, improvisation and theater, so hopefully I can play some imrpov games and get some acting workshops going! 

 What’s your favourite group game/activity/sport?

I love ceilidh dancing! It’s a traditional type of Scottish dancing that is usually danced in pairs or groups. It has lots of spinning and fast music!

What do you like to do during your free time? 

I am in a gospel choir. I love going to the theater and acting, often in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival! I enjoy practicing my British Sign Language skills with my deaf friends and doing yoga (mainly for good mental health!).

What advice can you give to campers about being away from home/being successful at camp? 

It’s alright to be scared, upset, or worried about being away! All of us feel that, including us adults. Please come chat with us. We’re here to listen not judge!

 I usually try to focus on the people and environment directly around me and throwing myself into the activities or helping others. That way, my worries will slowly go away.

What do you hope to get out of your summer at camp? 

I hope to pass on some things I have learned being a dyslexic that I wish I had known when I was younger, such as, you are intelligent! I hope to learn a bit more about how to teach dyslexic people and how education and dyslexia interact. I’m excited for doing outside activities and learning some more outdoor skills!

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Dyslexic Kids as Entrepreneurs and Innovators: A Guest Post from NoticeAbility

We’re excited to share this guest post from Christian Henry of NoticeAbility about the unique event held alongside the IDA conference in Connecticut this past October. NoticeAbility is a nonprofit dedicated to helping students with dyslexia identify their unique strengths and build self-esteem. The organization’s Entrepreneurs and Innovators workshop brought together kids with dyslexia from all over the country to showcase their talents in a “Shark Tank”-style format. Read about it in Christian’s post below and make sure to watch the video at the end. Take a close look and you’ll see former camper Virginia A.! And please check out NoticeAbility’s programs on their website!

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My daughter loved every aspect of school except for one thing: when she had to read at night, it was very stressful!" 

Here at NoticeAbility, we hear this from parents all the time. As a non-profit building online curriculum for dyslexic students, we are challenged by the fact that there are lots of good literacy interventions, but that even under the best circumstances, the self-esteem of students with dyslexia tends to be a casualty. How can we make a difference for these families who know their child is a great learner, whose strength is not— as so much of school demands—in the reading department? 

We offered 30 families a one-time offer: we'd show up at the International Dyslexia Association annual conference at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and present a condensed version of our Entrepreneurs & Innovators course—normally 10 weeks long— over just two days of the conference. Thanks to Susie, two Camp Spring Creek families drove hours to join in.

Our curriculum recognizes that dyslexics end up disproportionately in careers associated with entrepreneurship, the arts (music, movement, painting, sculpture), architecture and engineering. Since most middle school teachers are not versed in those areas, we make use of the 'blended classroom', with much of the content delivered in online videos with lots of scaffolding to keep a very low demand on our students to read and write just to absorb the material. Then the teacher facilitates small group project-based work, where students are identifying a problem, observing how it impacts people, asking how it might be solved, and then working up to presenting their business model in a public forum as a team. Throughout, students are being coached by their teacher, and through the course content, to find areas of confidence and ability (hence: Notice Ability, which is also a play on words: No Disability) that build their confidence, sense of self, and academic tenacity. 

What we re-discovered during the workshop was the same thing that you know as Camp Spring Creek families: our young dyslexic learners deserve the chance to recognize and exercise their strengths, to claim who they are, to feel great about learning and contributing, and that there is hope for how to make sure this community of support grows. Watch the video here to see parents and students react and reflect. We wish you time with family and great learning together in 2019!

Meet the Tutor: Donna McCourry

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Donna McCourry has been teaching in Mitchell County schools for 26 years. Although she has taught at levels from kindergarten to high school, she's currently a sixth-grade language arts teacher at Bowman Middle School in Bakersville. When she heard that Susie was offering a Classroom Educator Orton-Gillingham course, she jumped at the chance to take it. The approach she learned was beneficial not just to her students with learning difficulties, but to all her students. 

Tutoring this summer, she says she has appreciated the opportunity to work one-on-one with students. The individual attention she's able to give students means that she can diagnose their exact difficulties and tailor her instruction to meet those needs. She has been amazed at the progress her students have made. One of her most memorable moments at camp was when one of her students became confident enough with her cursive writing to switch from using a pencil to using a pen. 

Along with Donna, her son Connor (seen below) has accompanied her to camp this summer, taking part in activities such as woodshop and swimming. While Connor doesn't have dyslexia, he says that he's learned a lot about language learning that's helpful to him, too. 

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Meet the Tutor: Lynne Huskins

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In her forty years teaching in Mitchell County (NC) Schools, Lynne Huskins noticed that “so many kids needed something different than what we offered” in order to be successful readers. Four years ago, when she heard that Susie was offering an Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator course for local teachers, she thought it might be just what her students did need. It was late in her career, she says, and she wondered if it was too late. But in the end, she decided to do it. “I’ve never been sorry,” she says. After her O-G training, she says, “my students’ test scores skyrocketed.”

Although she began as a resource teacher, has a special ed certification, and taught third grade briefly, Lynne spent most of her time in kindergarten, reaching children just when they were starting out. Even at that young age, she was able to recognize when students were likely to have reading difficulties. With early intervention, she says, students have “a much better chance” of being able to read.

Since being at camp, she has loved the opportunity to work one-on-one with students on their individual needs. There’s “so much growth” over the course of one month, and for the students who are able to stay longer, the extra two weeks “makes all the difference in the world,” she says.

In addition to the gratifying experience of helping students make so much progress, Lynne has enjoyed the opportunity to meet “so many interesting people” from around the world, both the students and staff. “And you can’t beat the view,” she says about the mountain vista outside her tutoring room.

Now that she’s retired, Lynne plans to bring her O-G skills to Gouge Elementary (where she used to teach) as a tutor during the school year. And she plans to come back to camp next year!

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In Their Own Words: Campers Reflect on Friends, Reading, and Dyslexia

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On the first day campers arrive at Camp Spring Creek, they create a writing sample that serves as a baseline to measure their progress over the summer. Because of their dyslexia, campers (especially first-timers) are not usually eager to create this sample. Writing can be an exercise in frustration. By the time they are ready to leave camp, they create another sample. It’s always impressive to see how much campers progress in as little as a month. Even looking at the samples visually, it’s obvious that writing has become easier and more fluid.

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Camp Spring Creek’s emphasis on pencil grip and cursive writing is evident in the campers' writing samples, too.

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What's really impressive is the range topics that campers choose to write about. From food and friends at camp to World War II history, campers use their new-found skills to express themselves in ways they couldn’t before.

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Some campers choose to write about their struggles with reading and writing. Camper Addie G. put it this way:

I hated reading and I did not like books at all. And I did not love books. But what? I do like reading and I do like books and I do like reading books! I love books and I love reading. I love reading books, plus I could have the whole day reading. I’m not sure if it would happen today, but it could happen tomorrow.

“We love to read as a family,” says Addie’s mom Angi. “But Addie never enjoyed reading on her own as it was just a struggle for her. Since camp, she regularly picks up a chapter book that her tutor gave her and joins us in reading for pleasure, something she would never have done before.”

Camper Olivia L., who has returned to camp several years in a row shared this moving assessment of her progress at camp, not just in reading and writing, but on a very personal level:

There are so many things I have learned and accomplished at camp over the years. For one, how to write, spell, read, syllables, and most importantly, how to make friends and not be ashamed of being dyslexic or thinking I was less than everyone else; thinking I was less intelligent or even feeling excluded. All those bad and upset feelings, I hardly ever feel anymore.

During my time at camp, I feel I’ve really thrived and stopped trying to fit in and started trying to stand out. 

Our campers are truly some of the most amazing children you’ll ever meet. Helping them to express themselves in many different ways is at the heart of what we do at camp. 

Thank You, Tutors, for a Job Well Done!

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This past weekend, we said goodbye to two tutors who were with us for the first four-week session. We want to take a moment to appreciate these wonderful educators and the work they did at camp this summer. Here's a little bit more about Jeanine Axelrod (above, left) and Mandy Pennington (above, right). Thanks for a job well done! 

Jeanine Axelrod

Jeanine came to us from Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she has worked in the Forest Hills school district for 15 years, first as a reading consultant, special ed teacher, and gifted teacher, and now in special ed.

As a undergraduate student, Jeanine studied learning disabilities and speech pathology. Through her education, she developed an interest in diagnostics, working in a clinical setting during graduate school. After getting her master’s, Jeanine pursued Orton-Gillingham training on her own. “The brain, learning, and kids” have always been central to career. Working in school settings, Jeanine has been able to put her diagnostic experience to good use.

Jeanine found out about Camp Spring Creek through one of her students, who attended camp this summer. She appreciates the emphasis on teamwork and the high standards at camp. “It’s a community of educators,” she says. There’s a “synergy” here that comes from being away from the distraction of day-to-day life, and that benefits students as well as teachers. Her students, she says, were really hard-working and always tried to challenge themselves each day. Jeanine says she loves how Camp Spring Creek emphasizes not only helping each student not only to read but to become “a well rounded person.”

“It’s an amazing camp,” says Jeanine. “I feel blessed, privileged and honored to be a part of it.”

Mandy Pennington

Mandy joined us this summer from Augusta, Georgia. During the school year, she is an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) teacher.

When her son was six, Mandy realized he was having real trouble with reading. At the time her family was living in Germany and she couldn’t find the help he needed. “I was a special ed teacher, but I couldn’t help my son,” she says. After doing some research, she found an Orton-Gillingham course she could complete online. Upon moving back to the States, she completed trainings in Atlanta and at Camp Spring Creek.

Beyond helping her son, it’s especially important to Mandy to help other children with dyslexia, many of whom are underserved in their schools. She tutors students after school and will continue to do so next school year.

At camp this summer, Mandy appreciated the opportunity in her tutoring to “focus on all the parts of Orton-Gillingham,” from spelling to syllable types. Unlike tutoring during the school year (when students arrive after school hungry, tired, and unable to focus), campers are away from distraction and really able to put their energy into learning. Using “the Susie method,” she says, it’s possible to work on "everything at once and get it all done within an hour." Mandy was impressed with the tremendous progress her students were able to make during the summer. And so were we!

VIP Guests at Camp

If you had (or were) a camper at Camp Spring Creek during the summer of 2014 or 2015, you will remember Jeppe Bjerg Thanning, our counselor from Denmark. For the past few days, Jeppe has returned to camp as a VIP guest, along with his girlfriend Pernille Bavnsgaard Jensen. The two are on an East Coast trip to the US which has also included a stay in Boston. 

Jeppe is a student at Aalborg University, where he studies Political Science and has one year left in school. 

Jeppe's best memories of camp include overnight hiking on the Appalachian Trail and just the wonderful community feeling at camp. One of the highlights, though, came at Christmas after working at camp. "Suddenly, I got 15 Christmas cards!" he says. Jeppe won't claim to have a favorite camper, though. "They all have their own unique charm," he says. 

When we say that camp is a family, we really mean it. We are always happy to have former campers and counselors come visit. Welcome back, Jeppe! 

Jeppe during that awesome overnight hike in 2015!

Jeppe during that awesome overnight hike in 2015!

Buddy Beads: A Camp Spring Creek Tradition

One of the things that makes Camp Spring Creek so special is the spirit of friendship and support that develops amongst our campers and between campers and staff. We encourage campers to practice and recognize kindness and helpfulness in many ways, one of which is through buddy beads.

Every day at lunch, anyone can choose someone to recieve a buddy bead. Here's how it works. After announcements, Steve lets everyone know that it's time for buddy beads. Campers or staff will raise their hands and share who they'd like to give a buddy bead to and why. It might be something simple like "for helping me in woodshop" or "for helping me make my bed this morning." Tutors will often recognize the special effort a camper made during tutoring or thank another staff member. One camper or staff member will circulate through the room with the buddy bead container and the person who was recognized can pick the bead of his or her choice.

Buddy beads are made throughout the summer during art. They're made from bakable clay. Camper collect them, put them on strings and wear them. They're a great reminder that no act of kindess is too small to be recognized!

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Remembering Diana H. King, 1927-2018

It would be hard to overstate how important Diana H. King was to the field of dyslexia education. As a passionate advocate for children with dyslexia and committed educator of teachers, Diana made an impact that will continue for generations. Diana wasn't just a hero for those in dyslexia education: she was a beloved friend and mentor to many, including our co-founders Susie and Steve. An unfailing supporter of Camp Spring Creek, Diana had a tireless dedication to children with dyslexia, a quality we strive to emulate here at camp. Below is a rememberance of Diana written by her long-time friend and colleague, William Van Cleave. 

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Diana Hanbury King (1927-2018), pioneer and legend in the field of dyslexia, passed away at her home on June 15 after a short illness.

Under the aegis of mentor Helene Durbrow, Diana began her nearly seventy-year career in the field of dyslexia at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., where Anna Gillingham visited regularly to supervise teachers. Prior to that, she had spent time in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) on her uncle’s farm, Kildonan; both her uncle and his daughters had what she later realized was dyslexia. Her first teaching job--at Ruzawi--came about by pure chance while she lived there, and thus began a lifelong passion.

In 1955 Diana established Dunnabeck, a summer camp in Pennsylvania, designed to meet the needs of dyslexic students. She served as the camp’s director for 35 summers. In 1969, with the help of Kurt Goldman, she established The Kildonan School, first in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, then in Amenia, New York. Both programs continue to flourish. Schools, camps,and training programs around the world, including Fraser Academy (Canada) and Camp Spring Creek (North Carolina), have been established with her vision and guidance. Durango Mountain Camp was also inspired by Camp Dunnabeck, and The Diana Hanbury King Academy for training teachers opened recently in Australia.

Diana mentored dozens of leaders in the field of learning difficulties--authors, school administrators, dyslexia rights advocates, and international presenters who acknowledge her as a driving force behind their work. She authored some fifteen important teaching books and continued to write up until a few weeks before her death.

A gifted presenter, Diana trained thousands of teachers in both public and independent schools. Never one to suffer fools gladly, she expected only the best of teachers--because, as she often said, our students “do not have any time to waste.” It was rare to win an argument with Diana. You needed to come prepared, and sometimes with research done, usually to find that she was correct in her initial position. Even so, she gave of herself selflessly to her students and her trainees, never unwilling to share her time and advice, her suggestions, and her passion for teaching.

A Founding Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners & Educators and a member of the International Dyslexia Association (formerly known as the Orton Dyslexia Society) since 1951, Diana received the New York Branch Annual Award (1985), the Samuel T. Orton Award (1990), and the Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award (2013) for her work on the national level. In 2016, she received the National Teachers Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award, only the second time in 25 years that they have bestowed this honor.

When asked, Diana was always quite clear that her first passion and best skill was tutoring students with dyslexia. At her passing, a former student wrote, “Mrs. King was the best teacher I ever had. She was always hard but gentle with me because she knew the potential of her students.” She was a gifted instructor who understood deeply the notion of diagnostic-prescriptive teaching and used her almost limitless knowledge to inform her instruction in each session with her students, who ranged in age from five to adult. She taught at schools and camps, in public and private school settings, and even for a time at a prison.

Diana was born in England and was a naturalized American citizen. She held a B.A. Honors degree from the University of London, an M.A. from George Washington University, and an honorary doctorate from New England College. She knew to some degree five languages, including French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Russian. She was a passionate gardener, a vodka drinker, a world traveler, and a lover of words and their origins. She read extensively across a wide variety of disciplines. She was an avid horseback rider and downhill skied well into her sixties. By the age of 80, she had two tattoos, including a full color dragon, which adorned her shoulder.

Diana was devoted to her extensive family as well. She is survived by her son, Christopher King; grandchildren Ian Michaels, Sol Michaels, and Eliana Ballen; sisters Jillian Poole, Anna Larkin, and Josephine Coatsworth; ex-husband and lifelong friend James Cecil King; nephews Tony Poole (Elizabeth) and Colin Poole (Kristine); two grandnieces, Natalie and Alison; and first cousin, Ashley Hanbury, in South Africa. She was predeceased by her parents, Una and Anthony Hanbury; her daughter, Sheila King; and her son-in-law, Murray Michaels.

A lifelong teacher and learner and a force to be reckoned with, Diana leaves behind an enormous legacy in the programs she built, the teachers she inspired, and the students she taught. Those who work in the field of dyslexia have benefited from her wealth of knowledge and her passion for teaching. Her legacy lives on through them.

In lieu of flowers, Diana’s family asks that donations be made to The Kildonan School Pool Fund (kildonan.org), the International Dyslexia Association (dyslexiaida.org), or the Academy of Orton- Gillingham Practitioners & Educators (ortonacademy.org).

Meet the Staff: Mark Peters

When we ask campers about their favorite things at camp, they invariably mention woodshop. The woodshop is a place where campers can explore their creative sides, gain new skills and confidence, and express themselves. But one of the biggest reasons it's so popular is the woodshop teacher: Mark Peters. Mark has a way of putting campers at ease and making them comfortable enough to try new things. While he's a talented educator, he's also a highly-regarded ceramic artist in our region. Mark's Pine Root Pottery blends traditional wood-fired techniques and salt glazes with contemporary and Japanese-inspired forms to create a look that's both graceful and dynamic. We asked Mark to tell us a little more about what makes him keep coming back to Camp Spring Creek's woodshop summer after summer. 

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How did you first meet the van der Vorsts and start working at camp?

I've known Steve and Susie for about fifteen years. Our kids went to the Spruce Pine Montessori school together. It was a small school and the parents were very involved. At that time Camp Spring Creek was in its infancy. 

I first worked at the camp as an art instructor for two weeks. It was fun, but two weeks didn't seem like enough time to get to know the campers. About five or six years ago, I was visiting the van der Vorst's and Steve floated the idea of me teaching woodshop. It sounded like a good idea. Steve had always taught woodshop, but he thought maybe he should be free to tend to camp business. I thought it would be fun to be more involved and to stay with the campers for all eight weeks. I've been the full-time woodshop teacher since then.

How is your experience in the woodshop different from your work as a potter? 

Woodworking is not my main focus, but I've been around a woodshop all my life. My father taught me the basics and I've picked up a lot on my own. More recently, I've taught at Appalachian State University as a 3D-design instructor, which includes teaching introductory woodshop to college students. 

What do you like most about working at camp? 

The thing I like most about working at Camp Spring Creek is witnessing the joy and sense of accomplishment that the campers have when they have done something that they never knew they could do. I see that not only in the woodshop but in every other part of our camp. I love seeing that and that is why I keep coming back. 

Mark working with campers in woodshop.

Mark working with campers in woodshop.

Below are some the examples of the exquisite work Mark creates through his business Pine Root Pottery. Check out more of it on his business Facebook page

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Meet the Counselor: Alexis Fillgraff

Adventurer, world traveler and au pair extrodinaire, Alexis Fillgraff has no shortage of experiences to share with campers this summer. He has taught French and skiing and has volunteered to captain our new motorboat on waterskiing excursions. We are sure that Alexis is going to be a great addition to our summer staff. Read more about him here!

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Tell us a little bit about the place where you grew up. 

I grew up in the town of Cagnes-sur-Mer in the South of France, known for its racecourse, but especially in a small part of this city, named Cros de Cagnes, which was an old fishing village.

What do you do during the school year? 

I decided to temporarily stop my undergraduate studies to devote myself to working with children. Last year, I spent a year in Southport, Australia, where I studied English for six months at a school and then stayed six months more as au pair for an Australian family in Sydney. Returning to France, since the beginning of the year, I have worked as a ski instructor at the Auron Departmental Snow School. I also worked with foreign children who wish to learn French.

What were you like when you were a child? 

I asked my father to answer this question. He told me that I was calm, wise, and easy going.

 How would your friends describe your personality? 

My childhood friends say that I am someone serious, especially for my age, always polite, dynamic and sporty, available and open to others, someone you can trust.

What do you like to do in your free time? 

I like to do several sports activities such as swimming, skiing, karate, football, ping-pong, cycling and a regular workout in the gym.

I like hanging out with my friends, going to the movies, bowling, hiking and traveling (apart from Australia, I've been to Spain, Germany, Sardinia, England and Italy).

What’s something campers would be surprised to find out about you? 

That I can drive the boat when they go water skiing.

What’s a game or skill you’re excited about sharing with campers this summer?

I can introduce them to karate or football.

What can campers do to make you smile? What should they avoid doing around you? 

I  think if you are open minded and always have a positive attitude you can easily make me smile. It's best to avoid lying and disrespecting the other campers.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

My favourite outdoor activity is football because I use to play a lot in my country.

What advice can give to campers to have a great summer away from home? 

My advice is to enjoy every moments at camp,  take advantage of the unique experiences available to them in tutoring and sports, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Always be curious.

What are your hopes for this summer? 

I hope that I can help campers have some unbelievable memories and contribute to them having a great time.

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