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!