Camp Life

Meet the Counselors: Louise Farman

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


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

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

What do you do during the year?

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

Tell us about your experiences working with children.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can campers do to get on your good side? 

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

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

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


Meet the Counselors: Beth Revuelta

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

Beth and her mum, braving the elements!

Beth and her mum, braving the elements!

What made you interested in working at Camp Spring Creek?

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

Have you worked at a camp or with kids before? 

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

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

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

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

What do you do during the school year? 

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

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

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

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

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

What do you like to do during your free time? 

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

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

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

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

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

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


Meet the Tutor: Donna McCourry


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

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

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


Meet the Tutor: Lynne Huskins


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank You, Tutors, for a Job Well Done!


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

Jeanine Axelrod

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

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

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

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

Mandy Pennington

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

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

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

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

VIP Guests at Camp

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

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

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

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

Jeppe during that awesome overnight hike in 2015!

Jeppe during that awesome overnight hike in 2015!

Buddy Beads: A Camp Spring Creek Tradition

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

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

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


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. 


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


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!


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.




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. 


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!


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!


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.


Meet the Tutor: Susan Nolan


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! 


Meet the Tutor: Jennifer Baughman


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.


Meet the Counselors: Bradley Stitt


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! 


Camper Poetry, Summer 2016

On the final night of camp, a talent and skit show is a Camp Spring Creek tradition. This year, camper Corey K. shared a poem that she wrote. Corey beautifully captured life a camp and she agreed that we could share her work here. 


Camp Spring Creek Summer

A soft laughter runs through the camp

Take some wood, nails and clamps

A bucket of paint will do just fine

Camp is for fun during summertime

Up some stones and in the pool

A bunch of friends, we’re nice and cool

In typing, your fingers just go, go, go

But looking at the keys gets a no, no, no

Woodshop is my favourite though

Hit a nail with one big blow

Books, pillowcases, painting and more

In Art, all are welcome, it’s above the door

Rollerskating is so much fun

But be careful, don’t fall on your bum

Tubing was relaxing and lazy

But rafting was a bit more crazy

The rain ruined our Olympic dreams

Some countries had a lot of steam

The storms came quick with lightning and rain

Our activities stopped, it was such a pain.

Room inspection, gets us cleaning fast

A perfect score, what a blast

Reading, spelling and lots of CLOVER

Until the day is officially over

A day for the girls at Wilson’s Creek

We will all be home in less than a week

Friends and fun, camp gets a cheer

Its time to go home, so Steve can have a beer

We say goodbye, but never fear

We will see you all again next year.

What To Do if Your Camper is “Campsick”

Our last group of Summer 2016 campers departed on Saturday. While it was hard to see them go, our wonderful tutor Renya shared an important piece of advice with those leaving “Don’t be sad that it’s over; be happy that it happened.”

Camp is an intense experience, full of a lot of learning and growing in a short period of time. When it’s over, it’s normal for campers to feel the loss of it and become “campsick;” a version of homesickness for camp. Here are a few tips from Susie on how to combat campsickness.

•    Ask your child to tell you about daily routines, new skills learned, or friendships made at camp. He or she probably wants to share, but may not know where to start. Asking specific questions will help guide the conversation and spark memories.

•    Encourage your child to write to camp friends: in cursive! This will not only reinforce new writing skills, but will also help him or her to feel connected. Remember tutors and counselors love to hear from campers, too, not to mention Susie and Steve!

•    Suggest your child journal about his or her camp experience. This will make sure that memories are preserved before they are forgotten. 

•  Your camper has learned new skills such as keeping his or her belongings organized and completing tasks such as washing clothes. Encourage him or her to continue with these newfound skills at home!

• Let your child know that he or she can share the camp experience with other students at school. They can advocate for their needs and for teaching practices that help them and others like them. 

• Help your camper to plan a meetup or reunion with a special camp friend or friends. This will help to cement the friendship for the future and gives your child something to look forward to. During the school year, it’s always nice to have a friend who understands what you’re going through. Susie would be thrilled to visit campers, help organize camp reunions, or offer information sessions in your area: just contact her to discuss it!

Returning from camp and getting back into daily routines at home can sometimes be challenging for kids. Acknowledging that your child has changed and grown—that his or her world is a little bit bigger now—and that you’re proud of him or her goes a long way toward increasing your child’s self-confidence. And isn’t that a big part of what camp is all about?