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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Meet the Tutor: Kylie McKinney

While we have tutors and staff from around the world, we're very fortunate at Camp Spring Creek to draw a lot of talent from our local community. This summer, Western North Carolina native Kylie McKinney will join us as a tutor. A third-grade teacher in McDowell County, Kylie discovered Orton-Gillingham in her quest to find the best way to help struggling students in her classroom. We're thrilled that our campers will have the opportunity to learn from this dedicated educator this summer! Kylie tells us a little more about her journey to working at camp below. 

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What made you want to become a teacher? 

For 18 years of my life, I swore that I would never become a teacher. I am not sure what changed, but I am finishing my seventh year teaching. I would say that there are several teachers who influenced my life. Their love for students and dedication to education continues to impact my life today. I chose teaching because I wanted to share the opportunities and support that I received with other children. That's my goal: to give every child my very best effort and my love.  

How did you find out about Orton-Gillingham training? 

I met the Van der Vorsts several years ago at our local gymnastics gym. I didn't know much about Camp Spring Creek, but I did know that they helped children who were dyslexic. Ten years later, I had a few children in my third-grade classroom who had shown little to no growth in reading since starting kindergarten. I desperately wanted these kids to learn how to read before leaving third grade. I began researching how to help children with severe reading disabilities. I was constantly finding research that said I should be using the OG approach, but I had no clue what that meant. I was able to attend a talk hosted by Camp Spring Creek. After hearing Diana and Susie speak, I became even more eager to get OG training. I feel very blessed to have Susie and Camp Spring Creek so close to my home and the school where I teach.  

Can you tell us about some/one of the great results you had (or one memorable story) using OG with students? 

I started training in the Fall of 2017 and I was able to begin using it in my classroom in November and December.  My first great experience was having three kids accurately identify the letters B and D after struggling with this since kindergarten. They would approach administration and staff and say "Will you come to my class and watch me use the B/D drill?" They felt so successful! It was very rewarding to witness this. I would say every kid in third grade benefited from OG training and I have seen tremendous growth overall this year.  

What do you love about working one-on-one with a student rather than in  a classroom? 

I haven't had the opportunity to work one-on-one yet, but I already think I will love it. I am used to balancing the academic progress and needs of many kids and now I can focus one kid at a time.  

What's something campers will be surprised to learn about you? 

My sister and I look very different and are almost complete opposites. We never fought growing up. I think we balanced each other out.  

What  are your hobbies or special interests? 

I love living in Western North Carolina and enjoying the mountains and nature. On pretty days, I want to be outside hiking or in the water if it is warm enough. I also love to be with my family.  My nephew Eli is eight and my niece Emmie is six. I love to spend time with them.  

What are your favorite books for kids? 

Wow, there are so many to choose from. I read aloud to my school kids everyda. I think our favorites are Roald Dahl books. My students become so iinvolved in the story and love to talk about it with me and their peers. It is one of my favorite things about teaching.  

What are your hopes for this summer?

I am so excited to work at camp this summer. I hope that I become a better OG tutor and I´m eager to get to know the campers!

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Meet the Counselors: Colin Foley

Below, left is a picture of camper Colin Foley with Olson van der Vorst. On the right is Colin Foley, college student and future Camp Spring Creek counselor. We're excited to welcome Colin back to camp this summer and we know his experience as a former camper will be invaluable. We asked Colin to share a few camp memories and hopes for this summer, below. 

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What are your best memories from your time at camp?

Probably the trips or creek hikes that we went on. Not to say there were bad memories, but those ones are the best! 

What do you remember about the counselors at camp? 

I remember how cool it was to have counselors from all over the world and get to learn from them how they live in other places.

How do you think you'll be the same (or different) from your counselors? 

I will try to always have fun or a good time, but at the same time make sure we follow the rules of what we can and can not do while at camp.

What is something you're excited to share with campers this summer? 

I'm probably most excited to give campers some of the amazing experiences I got to have as a kid that helped make me into who I am today.

What would campers be surprised to learn about you? 

Um...that I drive a really old car: a 1987 BMW, but love this car!

What should camper do to stay on your good side? What should they avoid doing?  

To be on my good side, just always have a good attitude with me and be honest.

What advice can you give campers about having a great summer?  

Just say yes to every opportunity even if it is a little out of your comfort zone. It could be what changes your whole view of things. For me that was the zipline. I hated heights when I got to camp, but now love doing zipline stuff when I get the opportunity.

What are your hopes for this summer?

I hope to have a good time and give campers some amazing memories.

Meet the Counselor: Abby Edwards

This summer, we continue our wonderful tradition of Camp Spring Creek ties with Australia! Along with counselor Luke Kaldas and tutor Renya Seelig, counselor Abby Edwards will be joining us from Down Under! Counseling is a perfect role for Abby, who has a background in social work and friends describe as patient and empathetic. But she's also an avid hiker. We are sure she will fit right in at camp!

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

I grew up in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia where there is a lot of bushland. As a kid, I grew up on some property with pet cows, chickens, dogs, a goat and some sheep. I spent a lot of my time playing outside with my two older brothers.

What do you do during the school year?

For the past four years during the school year, I had been studying my Bachelor of Social Work, I graduated this last year. This year I have been working as a Person-Centred Support Worker within the disability and mental health sectors.

Have you worked with children before?

Yes, I have worked with children during my studies through work experience and placements. As a teenager, I also did babysitting and grew up taking care of and spending time with my many younger cousins.

What were you like when you were a child?

I asked my family to answer this one for me. They said I was easy going and a bit of a tom boy as I grew up hanging around my brothers and their friends. They also said that they had a very hard time getting me out of bed in the mornings but luckily since then this has changed, and I have turned into an early bird.

How would your friends describe your personality?

I asked my best friend of 18 years to answer this one and she said, “I would say empathetic, compassionate, dry sense of humour, attentive listener, good communicator, creative and artistic, comfortable within yourself, intuitive and physically fit and active and motivated.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

I really enjoy working out, getting artistic: mostly painting with watercolours, reading books, getting out in nature, playing with my dogs, and spending time with my friends and family.

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

Maybe that I’m a vegetarian and I can do the splits.

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

I’m excited to use my Social Work skills and be active with the kids.

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

If the campers are enjoying themselves and having a good time and I can’t really think of something they should avoid doing around me as I am a patient person.

What is your favourite outdoor activity?

I like hiking and walking outdoors and enjoy doing this in bushland around my house.

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

To try and make the most out of camp and to get out of your comfort zone and try new things.

What are your hopes for this summer?

To help the campers make progress and reach their goals and to have a lot of fun.

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Meet the Tutor: Susan Nolan

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Over 30 years ago, while teaching first grade, Susan Nolan encountered a student whose verbal intelligence was "off the charts," but who struggled with reading. His mother arranged for Susan to tutor him after school for several years, but, she says, she saw frustratingly little progress. When the student was finally tested and diagnosed with dyslexia, the child’s mother offered to help pay for Susan to attend an Orton-Gillingham training during the summer. It was “transformational,” she says. “Not only for him but for me.” She wondered why she had never been taught how to teach this way before. Not long after that, she began coaching each summer for an accredited Orton-Gillingham Training Program offered through the Scottish-Rite Children’s Dyslexia Center and Miami University of Ohio.

 She later pursued her masters in Reading Education and after that, a Ph.D. in Reading and Language Arts from Ohio University, where she is now an Associate Lecturer in Teacher Education. In addition to teaching, Susan works with local school districts on developing professional development opportunities for teachers.

Through the years, as she has continued to pursue higher levels of Orton-Gillingham certification, Susan has regularly attended Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Trainers conferences. It was at the annual conference in 2017 that Susan met Susie and tutor Renya Seelig and first learned about Camp Spring Creek.

“I was so intrigued,” says Susan. The international character of the campers and the counselors, the mix of tutoring and enriching activities: “The more Susie talked about it, the more I knew I had to come visit.” Because it was a bit different than the training she received, she was curious about the way O-G was implemented at camp.

Fate intervened, and before even seeing camp for the first time, Susan had agreed to come tutor for the summer. The experience she says “broadened my perspective on how you can implement O-G in different ways and in different settings and still see progress.” The experience of tutoring at camp in the summer of 2017 also supplied her with new strategies to bring back to her university students.

But by far the most rewarding part of the experience, she says, was working with the campers: “There’s a unique bond created in working with the kids day after day,” dining with them and seeing them outside of the tutoring setting. She was impressed with “the degree of confidence” the campers took away from camp. “They have an hour of tutoring and an hour of study hall each day and in between, swimming, woodshop, and day trips that add to their self-edification. They bring that back to their tutoring the next day,” she adds, continually facing new challenges and mastering them. Being engaged in camp life round the clock, says Susan was “the hardest fun I’ve ever had.”

Thankfully, she’s agreed to return this year for another summer and we know there are campers who are looking forward to seeing her again. Outstanding educators like Susan are part of what makes Camp Spring Creek so special! 

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Meet the Tutor: Jennifer Baughman

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A passion for education is something that runs in Jennifer Baughman's family. Her husband Steve is an educator, too and both of them will be joining us at camp this summer! But along with her serious side, Jennifer has a spirit of adventure. We've got a feeling she'll fit right in at CSC! We asked Jennifer to tell us a little more about herself here: 

Where are you from and what do you do during the school year? 

 I am from Rock Hill, South Carolina. During the school year, I teach high school English at an alternative high school. I teach students who have been removed from their schools for behavior reasons.   

What inspired you to learn the Orton-Gillingham approach? 

My main inspiration has really been my husband, Steve. He has been working with O-G materials for several years now, and his enthusiasm has transferred to me. 

What are some of your most memorable moments as a teacher? 

There have been so many times. Perhaps one of the most rewarding was when South Carolina required an exit exam, and I worked with students who had finished the class requirements but not the exit exam requirement to graduate from high school. Every student that I worked with passed their exit exams. Several students that I worked with had learning disabilities which made the test very difficult. One student, David, worked so hard and struggled so much. He worked full time during the day and worked with me during an evening class time. His original score was very low, but he passed and we were both so happy.     

What made you want to work at camp this summer?                    

I love to see students excited about what they are learning and for them to see and feel success in what they are doing.

What can campers do to make you smile? 

Just going on the journey of learning with each student will bring me joy.    

What is something campers would be surprised to learn about you? 

I am a quiet person, so I think people are surprised at my adventurous side. I have been rappelling and spelunking. I'd love to go skydiving, but haven't been yet.  

What are your hopes for this summer? 

I hope this summer to make a difference for campers and to help them gain the confidence they need to succeed.

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Meet the Counselors: Bradley Stitt

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Counselor-to-be Bradley Stitt joins us from the banks of the Mersey: Liverpool, home of the Beatles, Liverpool F.C., and so much more! A traveler, adventurer, footballer, and mountain bike enthusiast, we have a feeling Bradley will find plenty to enjoy in Western North Carolina! We asked him to share more about himself here. 

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

I grew up and still live in Liverpool in the North of England. It's quite a big city with lots of activists to do and see but mostly famous for its two football teams and home of The Beatles!

What do you do during the school year?

I'm still at school! I'm studying for an Engineering masters degree all year round before having the summer off, but I'm due to finish this May before I come to camp.

Have you worked with children before?

I have always been the older cousin to the children in my family and always have had great fun looking after them! Other than that, I have had one job working at a space-themed activity center where I would run activities for children and school groups. This was great fun and I can only imagine the experience will be better on camp.

What were you like when you were a child?

Surprisingly, I was always a goody two-shoes as a child! I would always follow the rules and well behaved. However that didn't stop me from being adventurous and getting stuck in when it come to meeting other children and play parks!

How would your friends describe your personality?

I always seem to make my friends laugh, I am the wise one in my friendship group who everyone comes to for advice! Especially when it comes to rounding everyone up for an adventure!

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time, I love to just relax and take my mind off work and my studying. Going out with friends either to somewhere like the cinema or outdoors like mountain biking is always a good idea in my book!

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

For a short while, I was part of the British military, but this means I have a few unique camping skills that I hope to teach!

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

It has to be football (soccer). It's a game that can be shared regardless of ability or age. There are lots of different games and activists I can do with the campers involving a football that I use to love as a child and I can't wait!

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

You'll defiantly get on my good side if you involve everyone in the actives and have a buzz of happiness about you! Avoid any bullying or nastiness and I'm sure I'll get along just fine with all of the campers!

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Defiantly mountain biking, I love the technical ability and speed that I am able to generate when I am riding!

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

Like me, just get stuck in and enjoy yourself! It's going to be an amazing summer so try everything and meet new people!

What are your hopes for this summer?

My hopes are to just have a once in a lifetime summer at Camp Spring Creek! Meet new people and try stuff I never thought I would! I'm prepared for an amazing summer!

Awards! A Camp Spring Creek Tradition

Lots of camps have traditions and Camp Spring Creek is no exception. One that we think is unique to our camp is Awards Night, held the evening before each departure day. Everyone gets dressed up, gifts are exchanged and there's always a great dessert. One thing that's extra special about Camp Spring Creek awards, though, is that it's not just staff giving awards to campers. Campers decide on awards for staff, too. 

Awards can be serious or silly, heartfelt or hilarious. But there are two things that make our awards really stand out. First, EVERYONE gets one, because we truly believe that there is something amazing about each member of our community. Second, they reflect how close the Camp Spring Creek community becomes over the summer. Our staff members recognize what makes each camper unique. They share in their triumphs and their struggles. Our campers bond with their counselors and tutors. They like to tease them, but Awards Night can be a time to say something deeply emotional that can be hard to otherwise put into words: Thanks for being there for me, this summer or Thanks for caring can be said in an award like the "Always There" award. 

We're looking forward to seeing what wonderful awards our campers and staff members come up with this summer! 

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Meet the Counselors: Laura Fleckney

 Laura Fleckney, future Camp Spring Creek counselor. Laura grew up around cars and racing, so we're pretty sure she'll love North Carolina!

Laura Fleckney, future Camp Spring Creek counselor. Laura grew up around cars and racing, so we're pretty sure she'll love North Carolina!

This stylish young woman is Laura Fleckney, who will be joining us this summer as a counselor! Laura hails from Bedfordshire, England, where she works at a preschool and as a nanny for two young boys. This won't be Laura's first time in the US: she once worked as a nanny in Northern Virginia. Laura is a fan of anything vintage: vintage cars, vintage clothes and the music of Elvis Presley. Laura loves crafting and is excited to get to the North Art barn to help our campers with fun projects this summer. We asked Laura to share a little more about herself here. 

You’ve got a lot of experience with children. What’s your secret to keeping kids happy and engaged?

Supporting children’s interests is huge and I feel it’s really important to help children extend their ideas and knowledge in ways they find exciting and engaging. 

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

I enjoy walking, there’s lots of countryside around where I live and I love Sunday strolls and bike rides along the canal in the summer. I also like camping, me and my family go away drag racing at weekends with my dad. I Love to go on Day trips to the seaside-rain or shine!

How would your friends describe you?

I asked my friends and one responded: “I would describe you as the most caring and friendly of people, basically the best friend I have ever had. someone that I can always rely on and is always there for others, artistic and creative especially in the way you dress and see the world through your 1950's eyes. You have an everlasting love for Elvis that goes beyond anything, you’re passionate, fun, bubbly and you’re a people person. You connect and communicate extremely well with others and support and encourage others” This brought a tear to my eye... I’m very lucky to have such an amazing supportive close group of friends.

What’s your favorite dessert? 

Anything chocolate, I am a total chocoholic! Our American friends love English chocolate. I’ll bring some with me to camp!! 

Is there a game or craft that you’d like to teach campers this summer?

Yes! I would love to get the campers doing some sewing and making their own things to use around camp, e.g. pool bags. Steve is going to get two sewing machines for the art barn so this will be very exciting!

Morning person or night person?

Morning person..... once I’ve had a good English cup of tea! 

What’s your Hogwarts house? : )

 I like Harry Potter but I have to admit I haven’t seen all of the films  so it’s got to be Hogwarts!

What can campers do to win your heart? : )

Just try their best and be happy! Team spirit is huge and supporting each other through their camp journey will make a massive impact.  I will always encourage having fun and being in the art barn allows the children to do just this and express themselves and their interests, I’m excited to meet the fellow staff and all the campers  

What will campers be surprised to learn about you?

Well, I’m sure it won’t be much of a secret  but I’m completely in love with Elvis Presley! I go out jiving at the weekends and love to dance!

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

I’m most looking forward to meeting new people and making a difference, and giving the campers the summer of a lifetime. I am sure I will have the summer of a lifetime too! I’m so excited to get on that plane and meet everyone!

 Laura (second from left) at her sister's wedding!

Laura (second from left) at her sister's wedding!

 

Should You Send Your Child To A Private School?

 Students at the Gow School in South Wales, New York, a 6-12 school for students with dyslexia and language-based learning differences. 

Students at the Gow School in South Wales, New York, a 6-12 school for students with dyslexia and language-based learning differences. 

Every parent of a child with a learning difference considers this question at one time or another: do I need to send my child to a private school? In this guest blog post, Jennifer Bamann of the Gow School shares her insight below. Many thanks to all our friends at the Gow School for their continued friendship. 

 

How do you know when it's time? 

Every day in my office I get a phone call that goes a little like this:

“I am just calling for some information about your school. I have a son/daughter who has been struggling in school since elementary school. We have tried everything, extra tutors, resource room help, even summer programs, but it hasn’t gotten any better. I don’t want to have to switch my child’s school, but we are running out of options.”

I understand the struggle it was for each parent to even pick up the phone to make the phone call. They are frustrated and emotionally spent and not sure what to do next. They love the idea of a school that caters to their child’s learning profile, but the thought of sending their son or daughter off to a boarding school seems impossible.

The benefits of your child going to a school that teaches specifically to the learning style of your child are numerous, but how do you know when it is time to take that step? There seem to be two large signs:

1. Even with all of the extra help and support, your child’s reading still has not progressed

2. You start to see signs of that their social and emotional health is being affected.

There are many options for families to explore when it comes to schools that cater to specific learning needs. The boarding high schools are typically meant for the student to stay for the duration of their high school career, with an outcome of college placement. There are programs designed for a few years, hopefully with an outcome of transitioning back to a traditional school.  Most of these schools are designed for a younger student, typically grades 2 to 8.

So when you know when the time is right? How do you know if your child is ready for this?  The most successful transitions happen when both parents and their child are both invested.  Making the decision for your child without them being on board is not recommended. Your child needs to visit the school, talk to the students and faculty and be able to visualize him ro herself at the school. Also, an acknowledgement that this moment in time might not work, but perhaps in a year or two. Making the decision to shelf the idea for a period of time is a brave thing to do. 

There is so much information out there regarding schools. My recommendation is to look under every rock: websites, social media, and printed material. Ask to speak with current and past parents, they will be your best resources. 

Jennifer Bamann is Associate Director of Admissions at The Gow School

 

Meet the Counselors: Kathi Maier

 Future counselor Kathi (second from left) in a traditional dirndl from her native Austria!

Future counselor Kathi (second from left) in a traditional dirndl from her native Austria!

One of the best qualities a camp counselor can have is a love for children. Future Camp Spring Creek counselor Katharina Maier (who goes by Kathi) is training to be a teacher and got lots of experience with children as an older sister, so we're sure she'll be a perfect fit! Kathi's crafting and costume making skills are going to come in handy at camp and we're hoping she'll teach our campers some songs in Austrian German! She tells us more about herself here. Please join us in welcoming Kathi to camp this summer! 

Tell us about where you grew up.

I grew up in a small village on the countryside. It’s that type of village where you have to name the closest city, because otherwise, nobody would have a clue where it is. However, I love my old home. There are many farms and woods. If I need a place to relax, I would always go there. 

What do you do during the school year?

Most of the time I am at university studying for my teacher trainee program. But I am also working in a supermarket on weekends and as a private tutor.

Have you worked with children before?

Since I am the oldest child in my family, I was always around children and started looking after them when I was pretty young. Now, since I am a teacher trainee, I work a lot with children and also teach them in my practical school training. Apart from that I am also babysitting and, as mentioned before, working as a private tutor regularly.

What were you like when you were a child?

I was a pretty calm child most of the time. But I could be very lively when I got excited for something. If I wanted to do something I was the most motivated person around.

What made you want to work at Camp Spring Creek?

After seeing a bit of the camp and reading about it, I immediately know that I would love to work here. Everyone seemed to really enjoy their time in the photos I found and the place looks lovely. Furthermore, I would love to gain more experience for my teacher training program and I think Camp Spring Creek is the perfect place for that.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Most of the time I like to get artsy and spend my free time with drawing, sketching and crafting. Taking my painting utensils, sitting somewhere and listening to some music is probably the most relaxing thing to do for me. However, I also like to meet my friends or go for walks.

How do your friends describe your personality?

After asking them, they said that I am a very trustworthy person that’s always on time. They feel like I would never skip out on them and if something’s wrong they can always come to me for talking.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

Probably more a night person. I don’t have any problems with getting up and I love mornings in the summer, but sometime sleeping a bit longer is way too alluring. 

What is currently your favorite type of music?

At the moment I love listening to swing or jazz music.

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

The thing that’ll make me very happy is seeing the campers having a great time at camp. It makes me really happy to see other people being happy.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

I love to play Frisbee or volleyball with my friends in the park or to go for a swim in my parent’s pool.

What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

I think the most important part of being happy is accepting yourself as the great person you are.

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

Make the best out of the time at camp! Make a lot of friends and have fun. Trust us that will give our best to make this the best summer you’ve had.

What are your hopes for this summer?

I hope to make lots of new friends there, from what I’ve read the other counselors are super nice as well. Also, to have a great time with the campers and do tons of exciting activities!

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Meet the Counselors: Luke Kaldas

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One of the very special things about Camp Spring Creek is our international atmosphere. We have campers and counselors from around the world, and in recent years, we have had very strong representation from Australia! This year, we continue that tradition! Meet Luke Kaldas, who will be joining us as a counselor. We're have a feeling that campers will be discovering a new sport this summer: rugby! We asked Luke to share a little bit more about himself, below. 

Tell us a little bit about where you're from. 

I grew up in a busy suburb of Sydney called Castle Hill, about 40 minutes outside the city. It’s a very green suburb with lots of beautiful parks and gardens. There’s always plenty of recreational activities to undertake in the area and the beach is also only 30 to 40 minutes away.

What do you do during the school year? 

I’ve been working in landscape construction for three years completing my trade/qualification at the end of last year.

What were you like as a kid? 

As a child I was caring and considerate of others. I was always very sport-orientated playing multiple sports at once.

How would your friends describe you? 

My friends would describe me as a happy, compassionate and generous person who’s very easy-going and adventurous.

What do you like to do in your free time? 

In my free time I like to keep active. I like hanging out with friends and going to the beach, finding different bush walks or going for drives and discovering somewhere new.

What's something about you that campers might be surprised to learn? 

They may be surprised to find out I’m half Egyptian.

What is something you're excited about sharing with our campers? 

I’m excited to teach the campers about rugby which I’ve played since I was 10 years old.

What can campers do to get on your good side? What should they avoid doing?

A good joke will always get a smile out of me no matter how bad it is. One thing to avoid doing around me is picking on others. It’s something I’ve never been able to stand.

What are your favorite outdoor activities? 

My favourite outdoor activity is going on adventures finding new bush walks or mountain climbs.

What advice can you give to our campers to have the best summer possible? 

The best piece of advice I’ve been given while being away from home is say yes to everything. You’ll only regret the things you didn’t do.

What are your hopes for this summer? 

I’m hoping to just provide a fantastic experience for the campers while meeting some amazing people along the way.

 Luke is going to be a big help in wood shop this summer!

Luke is going to be a big help in wood shop this summer!

Camp Spring Creek: Tips from a Parent

 The two Peytons: Peyton S and Peyton H. 

The two Peytons: Peyton S and Peyton H. 

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Peyton and his awesome tutor, Ishani

So, are you thinking about the idea of camp for your child, and questioning if your child is ready…or if you personally are ready? I know first-hand how daunting the idea of sending your child off to camp for four weeks or more can be. In 2016, we had tried what felt like everything to provide help to our son, when a friend suggested I look into Orton-Gillingham and we found Camp Spring Creek. Our son was in third grade and his confidence was below zero. After speaking with Susie, we decided to apply to camp.  Peyton was accepted, and then the nerves became REAL! The idea of having him gone for six weeks, only being able to call home once a week, how would we ever handle this? Well, fast forward to week fiveof camp, and guess what…Peyton had bought into Orton-Gillingham, was advocating for himself, and he asked to extend his camp time and stay the whole eight weeks. Yes, eight weeks! 

When we picked Peyton up that year, we could not believe the difference in his reading ability and his CONFIDENCE!!!! We were AMAZED and shocked in the most wonderful way. So you ask, is CSC right for your child? This is a very personal question, but if you are looking for your child to grow in reading, independence, time management, responsibility, and confidence…this is where the magic happens. Peyton attended his second year at camp in 2017, and again had an amazing experience. This summer, our youngest son will be attending CSC for the first time and we are all so excited for this opportunity. 

I know that each family is different on how they handle discussing dyslexia with their child, but in our family, we are very open about it. In fact, dyslexia is known in our house as a “SUPERPOWER” and our children know that they just learn differently. They also know that they are gifted in other ways because of their dyslexia, and they embrace this. We made both children a part of the decision about going to camp, since after all they are the ones who must put in the work. 

So, you ask, how do you prepare your child? How do you prepare as a parent? Well, I must be honest, as a parent, there really is no way to prepare except to realize that you will miss your child dearly. The part that will hold you together will be knowing that they are growing, they are being loved on a lot, and that this is an amazing opportunity for your child. As for preparing your child, let me just say that the staff is AMAZING, and will really help with the transition on drop off day. They are there right when you arrive and really do a great job interacting with the kids to instantly make them feel comfortable. There are also returning campers and parents who are always willing to “wisk” them away and show them around camp.  The bonds of friendship start almost immediately and for us, have continued even after camp. If you think it would be helpful to talk with another parent, or even another camper, I know Peyton and I are always available to do calls and or FaceTime chats. Susie also has other parents and campers she can suggest as well.

After now having two summers under our belt, here are a few thoughts on packing and making it through the camp time. 

·       You, family, and friends can write all the letters/cards that you want. You CANNOT send care packages, money or any other item. Only letters and cards! What I decided to do so I didn’t say the same thing every day, was to send jokes. The kids love to get mail, and the jokes proved to be a success because he loved sharing them with his camp friends. To make it even easier, I prepared a whole stack in advance and that way I just had to put one in the mailbox each day. I found lunchbox joke books on Amazon and would just pull two to three out to send at a time. 

·       The kids will write a letter home each week, however, if you want to make it easy for them to write more often, you may want to send them with some cards with pre-addressed stamped envelopes. This will make it easy if they want to just say hi and pop it in the mail. 

·       As for packing, we used packing cubes and they proved to be a big help in keeping things organized, and you can stuff a lot into a small space. 

·       Don’t stress if you see your kids wearing the same clothes everyday in the pictures😊  They survive even wearing dirty clothes, and eventually they will change their clothes when they start to smell bad enough. LOL! My rule was that Peyton HAD to brush his teeth every morning and night…and I asked him to PLEASE at least change his underwear.  HA

·       The packing list says jeans…this just means long pants. Peyton is very much my “texture” child and jeans are not his thing. Send whatever long pants your child is comfortable with.

·       Label everything!  We bought the clothes labels that just stick into the clothes and you write on them with permanent marker. No ironing needed. You can get them on Amazon.

·       We packed in a trunk, but Susie does have an option of a four-chest of plastic drawers that you can order. We saw this as a first last year, and it looked like it would be nice to help keep everything organized. 

·       Laundry detergent is provided, but we sent laundry PODs last year and Peyton said they helped to make his clothes smell much better after washing. 

·       We also bought a mattress pad for the bed, which is not needed, but Peyton really enjoyed having it.

Most importantly, KNOW THIS!!!! Your child will be loved on A LOT, will eat AMAZING food as Peyton says, will get to experience SO many different activities and areas of fun, will make unbelievable friendships, and will come home with a new confidence and joy that you may never have known they have. 

If I can be of any assistance, answer any questions, or you would want to ask Peyton questions, feel free to email anytime.  Heather@HeatherHopkinson.com

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Harry and Peyton chilling in summer 2016

Meet the Counselors: Emily Penney

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We are sure that returning campers will be thrilled to hear that one of our first camper-turned-counselors Emily Penney will be returning to camp this summer! For those of you who haven’t met Emily yet, you’re in for a treat. Here’s a little bit of her story.

Emily came to camp for the first time in the summer of 2007 when she was 10 years old, along with her little sister Kirsten, both staying for six weeks. She had just been diagnosed with dyslexia during the previous school year.

At school, Emily says, her big problem was spelling. “I’d take a spelling test and get 20 points out of 100.” She was told she had dyslexia, but no one explained what that meant. “I went to a very big school, so nothing was individualized. When there was a test, they would put me in a different room. Everyone knew that was the ‘not smart’ room. I was really embarrassed.”

Emily’s parents knew just what to do, though. Susie and Emily’s mother Sandra have been friends since childhood, so coming to camp was a logical choice.

Emily says that while she was excited for the outdoor activities, she “was kind of dreading” the tutoring aspect of camp. “I hated reading and I was afraid I was going to have to read in front of other campers. Reading out loud or writing on the board was very embarrassing to me.” But once she got to camp, she realized her fears were unfounded. “It was so individualized.”

During that summer, she became very close to the van der Vorst children (and still is today!). Steve was the woodshop teacher back then and Emily says “I loved woodshop with Steve and was always trying to impress him!”

Thinking back on her experience as a camp, “the whole summer was the highlight.”

She went back to school with a tackle box full of tools, including individualized index cards to help her pronounce words. “Even little things like the pencil grip and breaking the words up,” helped her to succeed in school, she says. Emily is now studying recreation at Arizona State University. She hopes to be an international tour guide and work in national parks.

While soccer kept her from returning to camp again as a camper, she loved returning in the summer of 2017 as a counselor. “I came here and changed as a person and it’s fun to see that happen to others, too. You want so badly for them to succeed. They are so creative and they surprise you so much.” Her international team of colleagues was another great highlight of her experiences.

She also has a special place in her heart for Camp Spring Creek’s founders. “I love Susie and Steve,” says Emily. “They are the most fun people ever. They are so passionate about what they do. They carry people along on their shoulders and spread the word about dyslexia. When you see people who are as passionate as they are, you want to be like them.”

In her first year as a counselor, Emily quickly became a favorite with the girls in her cabin and with all the other campers, too. Her great sense of fun and adventure, caring for others, and team spirit make her such a valuable member of the camp family. Welcome back, Emily!

 Emily demonstrates her mad limbo skills here!

Emily demonstrates her mad limbo skills here!

An Opportunity for O-G Tutors: Learn to Tutor Through Skype

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Educators are increasingly turning to Skype to bring resources and instruction to their classrooms: it's free and easy to set up with classroom technology. Through Skype, students can ask meet and ask questions of experts and authors no matter where in the world they live. Skype is also a perfect platform for tutors. No need to drive hours for a specialized tutor: when you've both got computers and Skype, virtual tutoring is a great solution.

Orton-Gillingham tutoring is the gold standard for helping struggling readers, but in many areas, there are no teachers or tutors trained in O-G. Two years ago, Laurie Cousseau, an Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practioners and Educators Fellow and Director/Owner of the Green River Literacy and Learning Center, was presented with the opportunity to use Skype to reach a student she otherwise wouldn't have been able to help. Now she "meets" twice a week with a student in Istanbul. The sessions are a win-win for everyone: her student gets the O-G tutoring he needs throughout the school year and Laurie has learned new ways to deliver effective high-quality targeted remediation.

Having met with success, Laurie expanded this initiative through Green River Learning and Literacy. Now tutors she has worked with use Skype to reach students in under-served areas in the States such as the Adirondacks and Iowa, but her associates also have worked with students in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Jamaica and soon Dubai.

While she says that some tutors were initially hesitant to deliver multisensory instruction through a technological interface, the results have been remarkable.  Skype tutoring allows both tutor and student “a closer look into one another’s worlds and share a remarkable bond,” says tutor Sara Quinn.

Laurie will be sharing what she's learned about Skype Tutoring at a workshop held at Camp Spring Creek this October 28. 

In this session, you'll learn how to organize materials for Skype tutoring sessions and how to adapt your lessons for a distance-learning environment. You'll have an opportunity to design your own activities and to observe a Skype tutoring session. 

This is a unique opportunity for Orton-Gillingham tutors to learn how to expand their tutoring practices and reach more students. Please contact Susie through our website or by phone at 828-688-1000 for more details and information! 

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Celebrating 15 Years!

On Saturday, July 15, former campers and their families, friends, and neighbors joined our current summer campers for a celebration of fifteen years of Camp Spring Creek. On this beautiful summer afternoon, visitors toured our campus with campers as tour guides, then returned to our dining hall for a wonderful meal prepared by our camp chef, Kerry Damich along with Anina and Olson van der Vorst.

Susie shared stories about the journey she and Steve took opening camp and helping it grow through the years. Anina created a slide show featuring pictures from every summer and the crowd loved recognizing some familiar faces and seeing how much everyone had changed and grown. Susie recognized the support of the North family by presenting former camper Carl North with a certificate and a beautiful tile nameplate made by campers that will go on the newly named North barn, where art glasses are located.

Finally, campers and friends alike enjoyed an interactive concert by award-winning multi-insturmentalist Billy Jonas. Billy reminded our campers that what makes you different is what makes you special, and demonstrated that his different way of thinking about and seeing things had led him to a successful creative career.

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate with us and who sent words of encouragement. We're looking forward to another fifteen years!

Meet the Tutors: Melba Lingenfelter

 Melba Lingenfelter has done a lot of different things in her life, from working as a labor and delivery and ICU nurse to homeschool teaching to raising meat goats and breeding parrotlets. This summer, we're lucky to have her tutoring a Camp Spring Creek.  Melba became interested in Orton-Gillingham after learning that her middle child was dyslexic. She heard about camp at one of Susie's cursive writing workshops at a North Carolina IDA conference over a decade ago. For many years, Melba homeschooled her children. When the timing worked out, she came to camp to do an Associate Level training with Susie. So she could better serve the students she tutors in Texas, she came to camp last fall to complete a Certified Level training. Her time as a tutor this summer will help her to complete her practicum requirement for that certification.   Being at camp allows Melba to get to know her students well. After figuring out where a student's needs are, she's able come up with a plan to 'fill in those holes' in his or her learning. In addition to academics, though, the whole camp setting is incredibly important to boosting a child's confidence, she says. Everything from the structure at meal time to the camper's daily responsibilities help campers become more self assured.   In addition to tutoring, Melba has added a fun new dimension to camp with the two companions she brought along: her parrotlet Carolina and her chameleon, Freddy. Needless to say, these two pets have been very popular additions to camp.   Having lived in Uganda with her family, Melba would eventually love to return to an overseas posting to help children in missionary families to get the reading help they need while on their mission. In the meantime, she lives outside Houston with her husband.   We're thrilled to have Melba at camp this summer!

Melba Lingenfelter has done a lot of different things in her life, from working as a labor and delivery and ICU nurse to homeschool teaching to raising meat goats and breeding parrotlets. This summer, we're lucky to have her tutoring a Camp Spring Creek.

Melba became interested in Orton-Gillingham after learning that her middle child was dyslexic. She heard about camp at one of Susie's cursive writing workshops at a North Carolina IDA conference over a decade ago. For many years, Melba homeschooled her children. When the timing worked out, she came to camp to do an Associate Level training with Susie. So she could better serve the students she tutors in Texas, she came to camp last fall to complete a Certified Level training. Her time as a tutor this summer will help her to complete her practicum requirement for that certification. 

Being at camp allows Melba to get to know her students well. After figuring out where a student's needs are, she's able come up with a plan to 'fill in those holes' in his or her learning. In addition to academics, though, the whole camp setting is incredibly important to boosting a child's confidence, she says. Everything from the structure at meal time to the camper's daily responsibilities help campers become more self assured. 

In addition to tutoring, Melba has added a fun new dimension to camp with the two companions she brought along: her parrotlet Carolina and her chameleon, Freddy. Needless to say, these two pets have been very popular additions to camp. 

Having lived in Uganda with her family, Melba would eventually love to return to an overseas posting to help children in missionary families to get the reading help they need while on their mission. In the meantime, she lives outside Houston with her husband. 

We're thrilled to have Melba at camp this summer!

Meet the Counselors: Mikaere Britton

The daredevil on the motorbike you see above is none other than our future counselor Mikaere ("pronounced Mick-Eye-Dee, there are some rolled r's in there, but for simplicity that's the easiest way") Britton. Mikaere comes to us from the tippy top of New Zealand, a perfect balance to last year's counselor Ollie, who came from the country's southernmost city. While you can't tell from the photo, Mikaere says he's easy to spot in a crowd: he's 6'8" tall. "How's the weather up there?" is a joke he has heard before, in case you are tempted to try it. We think he stands out of a lot of other reasons, though, including his interesting past, mad off-road biking skills and great personality. Read more about him here! 

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in the very far north of New Zealand, on a block of native forest. I was homeschooled for most of my pre-high school years and was able to travel the country often, as my parents' business running motorcycle tours meant that we were on the road a lot.

 What do you do during the year?

I studied software engineering with the intention of making games, but I have veered off that path into marketing, and prior to starting camp have been the marketing manager for a company that imports and distributes car repair equipment.

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

I’ve never worked at a camp before, but have watched several friends go in recent years and have loved it. As for working with kids, as the youngest of three I grew up as the one who needed looking after, but since my first couple of high school years I’ve always volunteered to be a senior mentor of sorts to the younger students (I know how daunting high school as a first year can be!).

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

I think my answer and older sisters’ answers will be slightly different…. As a kid I was very curious and always active, with too much energy. I spent a lot of time reading, as I was fascinated with science and discovery. I went on a school camp or two before I was homeschooled but nothing like the setups you have in America!

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

Coming from New Zealand and growing up in a rugby dominated culture, I have accepted it as my favourite team sport, but thanks to my parents business my real sporting passion is in off-road motorbiking.

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

When the weather is good enough I like to skateboard/longboard, and ride motorbikes. If it isn’t too cold, I like to go surfing. If it’s totally miserable, I enjoy playing guitar.

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

Make friends! You aren’t the only one in an unfamiliar environment, there are plenty of others feeling nervous too. Introduce yourself and you might find yourself meeting a lifelong buddy.

Morning person or night person?

Night owl 100 percent. Hopeless in the morning, but I’m getting better as I get older and realize nobody is awake and nothing is open at 2 am.

 What can campers do to get on your good side?

Good banter is always welcome, but I would never turn down a hot plate of nachos.

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

A sense of achievement seeing kids succeed and enjoy themselves, to meet people from other corners of the world, and to have some great memories to share when I get home.

Meet the Counselors: Loick Pouget

Coming to us this summer from France is Loick Pouget: a major sports fan and paintball pro! In this interview, Loick tells us about his favorite foods, his Harry Potter house and even his secret crush. Read on to find out who she is! 

What do you do during the school year?

I’m a student in sports management in France. It was a really three amazing years where I learned a lot of interesting things. Sport is an important part of my schedule. I train about five hours a week, so I’m always in a great shape. Football/soccer has been my favorite sport for years.

Have you ever worked at a camp before? Did you attend camp when you were a child?

No, it will be the first time so I’m really excited to discover the camp and meet the staff and all the kids. It’s also my first time in the US. Unfortunately I never attended camp when I was a child.

How do your friends describe you?

My friends describe me as someone which is outgoing, curious, and a little bit crazy… but in a good way I think. I’m someone who likes to discover new things and share good vibes with people.

What are your favorite outdoor games and activities?

When I was a child, I was crazy for tree climbing and hiking but now my favorite outdoor games is paintball. The truth is that I’m really bad at it because my accuracy is so poor.

What’s your favorite sports team?

Soccer,  but I like a lot of others sport teams, for instance: basketball, baseball, softball, rugby, volleyball. In fact I don’t think than there is a sport or sports team which isn’t my cup of tea… Sports are essential for me in life.

What are you looking forward to teaching the campers this summer?

Water activities are always fun, so I looking forward to frame this kind of activity. I also look forward to team sports. I like to see everyone in a spirit of cohesion and challenge. Plus, maybe the campers will teach me something. Why not?

What should campers do to ‘get on your good side’? 

Good question! I think the way into my heart is really accessible. Every camper with a positive attitude is off to a great start. In addition, I’m just a food lover, so if you are a little smart and watchful you can bribe me! 

What’s your favorite food?

As a French person, I’m obviously in a deep relationship with cheese, deli foods and poultry. But my favorite food kind of food is pesto pasta with salmon. I experienced that when I was just a young boy in Rome and it is one of my best food memories. Italian food is just incredible. When someone talks me about pizza, I’m just so happy.

What are your hopes for this summer?

First of all, I hope to improve my level of English. I think I will be a really talkative person in order to progress faster. Plus, I hope I could have the chance to meet people and learn a lot about their knowledge and experiences. 

What advice would you give campers for being successful at camp?

My best advice is to just get involved in everything, make friends, and be curious. Try something new even if you think than it’s not a thing for you. Maybe you’ll have a good surprise.

Are you a Harry Potter fan? If so, which house would you be in?

Of course, Harry Potter is life… I’m also secretly in love with Emma Watson (or Hermione Granger if you wish). She is just wonderful and so smart. Obviously Gryffondor. Why would anyone seriously want to be in an other house? 

Captions: (left) Loick and friends getting their paintball on; Enjoying the beach with friends.