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. 

Meet the Counselors: Martin Cass

Is Martin Cass incredibly tall? Or is that just a tiny elephant in the photos above? Find out this summer when he arrives at Camp Spring Creek as one of our boys' counselors! He gives us a sneak preview into his life below (and read through to the end for the answer)! 

Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a little about it?

I grew up in a place called the Wirral, which is just over the water from Liverpool in the UK. (Where the Beatles came from). It is quite rural, cold and pretty boring when you have lived here. I would travel a lot to Liverpool because it’s always been more vibrant and exciting.

What do you do during the year?

Well, up until this year, I have always been in education, I recently finished my studies at one of the top drama schools in the UK, which was five days a week, 12 hours a day of intense training in things like ballet, Shakespeare, and script work. So since finishing that I have tried to have as much fun as possible, I have travelled Thailand, directed some theatre shows and started working full time in a bar.

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

Yes, I have. I was actually involved with the YEP theatre in Liverpool, and done a lot of work with the younger groups, but never in a different country so I am very excited!

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

I was an adventurous child, I loved getting stuck into activities and making a mess. I did go to a camp and I have such fond memories of it, so I cannot wait to create memories with this year’s campers.

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

I have a slight obsession with rounders. I feel like you may not know what this, is but I can easily show you, and then win you whilst playing.

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

I am obsessed with music. Live music is something I go to a lot, and also reading and writing, I love getting lost in a novel but I have always been creative so writing short stories, scripts is something I do a lot.

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

I think my best advice is to just get involved everything, make friends, be welcoming and push through the initial nerves of meeting new people and you will have the best time. Obviously, I will be there to help that!

Morning person or night person?

Definitely night time. The early mornings are going to be hilarious, and I’m sure will create some great stories.

What can campers do to get on your good side?

Treat everyone how you would like to be treated, and sing to me, all the time, except past bed time, then you sleep. And the occasional high five.

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

I hope to be able to give the campers what I was able to have when I went to summer camp, the memories, the laughs, and to be part of something that benefits them.

 Here's another pic of Martin in Thailand where he met that *baby* elephant he's seen with above!

Here's another pic of Martin in Thailand where he met that *baby* elephant he's seen with above!

Meet the Counselors: Sophie Zwijnenburg

We're under two months away from the start of camp and our staff is almost completely in place. We're excited to introduce you to Sophie Zwinjnenburg, a counselor who's originally from Voorburg in the Netherlands (won't Steve be excited to have someone to share jokes with in Dutch?). We caught up with Sophie to find out a little more about her. 

What do you do during the school year? 

 

During the school year I always used to go to school, I studied pedagogics (Education in US terminology).I graduated last year. I was not feeling like starting a career yet, so now I’m in the middle of my ‘gap-year.'  I just got back from Israel where I lived, worked, and learned for seven months.

Have you ever worked at a camp before? 

This is going to be my first time and I’m super excited!

What interested you about working at Camp Spring Creek?

What I like about Camp Creek is that it’s not such a huge camp with a couple of hundred children and counselors. I like the intimacy of this camp and the real bond you can create with the children over the weeks. For me it was a must that I could work as a general counselor on the camp because I really like to do a variety of activities with the children over the weeks and not just one specific activity. Furthermore, because of my studies, I have a lot of experiences with different kinds of children amongst them children with special needs. So the fact that I can work here with dyslexic children is a big bonus. And I’m a dyslexic myself so I think I will fit right in!

What are your hobbies/favorite things to do? 

I love to be outdoors! I like to hike in beautiful landscapes and to camp and sing at the campfire while making marshmallows. Also, doing big outdoor group games like capture the flag is something I get very excited about. I’m in for any activity that includes water; swimming, canoeing, snorkelling and water-skiing (even though I’ve never done that). Snowboarding is one of my favourite hobbies and every winter you can find me in the Alps trying out new tricks and than most of the time ending up flat on my face in the snow.

What skills and activities are you excited to share with campers? 

I am a dancer so I could try to teach the campers a pirouette or two. Next to that I unfortunately don’t possess that many skills but I could teach them how to be excited about all the games, I have plenty of that!

Do you have siblings? 

I have two siblings; an older and a younger brother. Tom is two years younger than me and Chiel is four years older.

What can campers do to get on your good side? 

Being honest and friendly to everyone. Oh, and chocolate will sometimes also help to get on my good side.

What would campers be surprised to find out about you? 

I can look pretty girly but I can be wild, goofy and get dirty like a boy.

What are your favorite foods? 

I love seafood and Greek salad. Actually, pretty much everything Greek!

What advice can you give campers about how to have a great summer at camp? 

Don’t hold back; dance when you feel like dancing, sing when you feel like singing and let out that laugh when you feel it bubbling up from your belly! Enjoy every moment to the fullest and let’s make some memories!

In Her Own Words: Camper Lauren Ringwood

 

Last fall, one of our Summer 2016 campers, Lauren Ringwood (seen above) spoke before the Spruce Pine Rotary Club about dyslexia and her experience at camp. Lauren agreed to share the content of her speech here. We thought our friends would enjoy reading her eloquent words. 

Hello, members of Spruce Pine Rotary Club, my name is Lauren. I am nine years old. I am in the 4th grade at Gouge Elementary. And I am dyslexic. You all have probably heard of dyslexia and may even know a little about it. But what you don’t know is, it is actually a GIFT!

Yes... I might struggle with reading, writing, and spelling, BUT, you best believe I will be the leader in problem solving, athletics, and spatial awareness...just ask my Uncle Reid. He says I’m the best golf cart driver around!

After all, I belong to an elite “club” that includes people like Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and my personal favorite, Channing Tatum.

This past summer I was given the opportunity, through scholarship, to attend Camp Spring Creek in Bakersville. I got to meet campers and counselors from all over the world. Camp Spring Creek was founded in 2003 by Susie and Steve van der Vorst and is one of three residential summer camps in the US for children with dyslexia.

I spent lots of time with my tutor, Betsy. The tutors at Camp Spring Creek are all trained in Orton-Gillingham, which, my mom says, is a multi-sensory approach to learning. All I know is reading, writing and spelling are easier now.

Besides learning, I got to do some pretty cool stuff... I got to build a table in wood shop, design my own t-shirt at the art barn,  go on creek hikes...where I discovered how badly stinging nettles really do sting, and eat some of the best food you have ever tasted!

I am thankful for them because Camp Spring Creek has given me the confidence to love learning again. Some people see dyslexia and its limitations, but my teachers, my mom and the rest of my family constantly encourage me to put all those “limitations” to the test.

Thank you for letting me speak to you today. If you would like more information on dyslexia or  Camp Spring Creek you can check out their website campspringcreek.org.

Lauren's mom Jessica has kindly offered to help us with our local scholarhip fund so that students in the students in the counties near Camp Spring Creek can enjoy the same benefits that Lauren did during her summer. You can donate to that fund here. Look for Jessica's moving letter about her daughter's experience soon!

Meet the Counselors: David Colgan

 Future Camp Spring Creek counselor David Colgan, back right

Future Camp Spring Creek counselor David Colgan, back right

Summer is coming closer every day and we're excited to introduce you to the wonderful staff who will be joining us! Today, say hello to David Colgan, who'll be joining us from Northern Ireland to work as a counselor. We caught up with him to find out a little more about what brings him to Camp Spring Creek this summer. We know that our campers are going enjoy getting to know David!

What do you do during the school year?

I'm a second year Biomedical Science student at Liverpool John Moores University but I recently started a job as a steward at Anfield Stadium (home to Liverpool FC). 

Have you worked at a camp before?

Back in my home,town, we have a summer scheme which I volunteered for last summer, so we took the kids everywhere from bowling to cliff jumping, which was amazing.

What made you want to work at Camp Spring Creek?

After talking to Steve, I did a bit of research on the camp and it was apparent that everyone was really close to and got on really well with one another, so it seemed to be a place I could work at but also enjoy working at.

Did you go to camp as a kid? If so, what were your favorite memories? 

When I was younger I went to the summer scheme I ended up volunteering for. My favourite part about it was meeting people from other communities that I wouldn't of met otherwise!

What's your favourite outdoor game and what fun games are you excited to share with the campers?

I'm very old school so it's hard to beat a game of tag, hide and seek or a water fight!

What would campers be surprised to learn about you?

I have the worst laugh in the world.

Note: (Now we are all very keen to make David laugh so we can find out if this is true!)

What can campers do to get on your good side?

I'm a big believer in "treat others as you would like to be treated" so by doing that they'll be in the good books.

Cat person or dog person?

Very close between the two, but dog person.

What's your favourite guilty pleasure food?

There's nothing better than some vanilla ice cream in my opinion.

David is great with kids and we know our campers are going to love spending the summer with him! Please join us in welcoming David!

Meet the Staff: Samantha Fortner

Continuing with our series on this summer's counselors and staff members, we're pleased to introduce Samantha Fortner who will be our typing teacher this summer! "Typing teacher" doesn't quite encompass all that Samantha will be doing. She will be working with campers on their digital skills, including working on presentations in Powerpoint and other software programs. We caught up with Samantha to find out more about her. 

Did you work at camp last summer, and if so, in what role?

Last summer I worked as a lifeguard at Brad Ragen Pool in Spruce Pine, NC, but I did visit camp on several occasions. I had the opportunity to participate in some weekend activities with campers, such as rollerskating and camp dances, and I ate dinner with the campers some nights.

What was your favorite thing about camp? 

My favorite thing about camp was the sense of friendship and family I felt every time I visited. I always had a wonderful time at camp and made friends with campers and counselors from all over the world. I learned so much from engaging with those different than me and I can’t wait to rekindle old friendships and make new friendships this year! The camp food was also delicious and it was something I really looked forward too each time I visited. :) 

You are finishing high school this year.  Do you know where you'll be off to next summer?  What do you think you'll major in? 

I am hoping to attend Wake Forest University in the fall of 2017 where I will double major in Elementary Education and Spanish. 

What do you like about working with kids? 

Ever since I can remember, I have loved to teach. As soon as I started pre-school, it was my innate urge to help other kids when I saw them struggling. The “light bulb” I see go off in someone’s head when they comprehend a concept I have helped them learn has always thrilled me. Then as I grew older I realized the impact my teaching had on young children and I knew I wanted to teach children as a career. I love the fact that kids have such a desire and willingness to learn new things. I want to use my abilities as a teacher to impress upon children all the knowledge that I can. 

Do you have siblings? 

I have two older brothers, Nathan and Nicholas. Nathan is 40 and Nicholas is 35. They both graduated from Virginia Tech and now have children of their own that I love very much!

What can campers do to get on your good side? : ) 

All campers need to do to get on my good side is be kind to others and be willing to help. If they do these things, they will definitely be on my good side! 

What would campers be surprised to hear about you? 

Campers might be surprised to hear that I was once on a bowling team, but I’m still very bad at bowling. 

What are your favorite hobbies? 

I love to read, swim, run, hike, and be outdoors in my free time. Camp Spring Creek is the perfect place to do all of these things!! 

You'll be doing some online work with kids. What are your favorite online games?

As a child, my favorite online games were Nancy Drew and Webkinz. Today, I love to play candy crush and 8 Ball Pool on the iPhone. 

We know that Samantha will be a great addition to camp this summer. Please join us in welcoming her to the Camp Spring Creek family!

Samantha enjoying rollerskating with the campers last summer!

Meet the Counselors: Svenja Wilke

At this time of year, we are starting to fill our camp staff for the summer. It's always an exciting time: meeting new friends and considering the possibilities that lie ahead. We're fortunate this year that we will have several returning staff members, but we're also excited to introduce you to some new ones, including counselor Svenja Wilke, who is joining us from Germany. We caught up with her to get to know her a little better. 

What do you do for work during the school year?

I am working in a day care center for children at the age of eight weeks to three years. So I’m always around kids and try to make the best out of the day for them.

Have you worked at a camp before?

No, unfortunately I didn’t. But I went to a camp myself while my training to become an educator and that was really exciting.

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

Nature can be so impressive and I like to explore it by hiking. Also I like sleeping outside, there’s a special feeling when you hear all that nature noises at night.

Do you have a game or song that you can teach campers?

Well, there are a few games that I loved when I was a child but I’ll keep them a secret until summer! 

What are your hobbies?

I like to go to the gym and swimming, read a good book, or go to the cinema with friends. But I’ve found my passion in yoga and I would love to teach the campers yoga this summer.

Other than that, I try to spend much of my free time traveling, I really love to discover different cities and cultures. This has brought me, for example, to Indonesia, Canada, and Iceland and my second home definitely became Ireland. 

From my trips, I got used to my other hobby: I love photography! I could imagine to use this at camp maybe by making a photo story together with the campers! In addition I hope I can try a few new activities this summer.

What’s your favorite dessert?

Well that definitely is ice cream, especially dark chocolate ice cream! Yummi!

What can campers do to win your heart? : )

Just keep a smile on your face and be yourself!

What will campers be surprised to learn about you?

At first I’m a little shy, but it won’t take long and after that they will have a lot of fun with me. I love singing around and acting crazy. So I think that’s a thing that would surprise them after the first impression.

What are you most looking forward to this summer?

I’m really looking forward to meet a lot of new people and taking part in an important part of the American way of life will be exciting. To spend the whole day outside, enjoy the weather and have a lot of fun with the campers could be the best thing I can imagine for summer. Also I hope I’m going to improve my English skills.

Please join us in welcoming Svenja to the Camp Spring Creek family! We can't wait to meet her in just a few months!

Behind the Scenes at an Orton-Gillingham Associate Level Training

What's it really like to take an Orton-Gillingham Associate Level training? It's intense. This first level of training covers all the basics, starting with an introduction to the English language with a level of depth that you may have never experienced before. Trainees are introduced to the history and principles behind the Orton-Gillingham approach and to the most important research on dyslexia. Have you ever heard of phonemic awareness? By the time you finish the Associate Level course, you will be well versed in it. You'll understand why multisensory approaches are important for all language learners and you'll become very comfortable with the term "decoding." 

There is a lot to cover in the Associate Level training, but that's only part of the requirement for achieving Associate Level training: a practicum is also required. This extensive training ensures that all learners taught with Orton-Gillingham methods get the best possible instruction and are set on the path to success. Susie is working with a wonderful group of trainees in Australia right now. Here's a look behind the scenes at this Associate Level training. We've got another one coming up in Spruce Pine in April. Check here for more information!

 Binders open, minds engaged!

Binders open, minds engaged!

 Multiple spellings? Susie's got you covered. 

Multiple spellings? Susie's got you covered. 

 Engaging (and identifying) the different parts of the brain. 

Engaging (and identifying) the different parts of the brain. 

 Lots of notebooks! Lots of sticky notes and index cards!

Lots of notebooks! Lots of sticky notes and index cards!

 All the essentials!

All the essentials!

 Copious notetaking

Copious notetaking

 Keeping learning multisensory

Keeping learning multisensory

 Learning the all-important pencil grip!

Learning the all-important pencil grip!