summer camp

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!

End of Summer Exhale

Wow. It was another amazing summer! Steve, Susie, Marguerite, Nina, Olson, Mimi, and all the counselors, tutors, and staff thank YOU for entrusting us with your children and helping us thrive as a camp, grow as a business, expand as a family, and love like there's no tomorrow!

We're taking the rest of August off from the blog to catch our breath. We'll be back this fall with twice weekly posts, including everything from artist interviews to book recs to training videos and more. Stay tuned!

Summer Scholarships & the Big Heart Ben Update

We're pleased to share with you that we were able to award 11 scholarships to campers this summer. Six of those scholarships went to OpenDoors children through our partnership with this fantastic organization. Of those 6, one is for a full 8 weeks of camp. All of the OpenDoors scholarships were offered at 50% to Buncombe County children living in multi-generational poverty.
Three of our eleven scholarships this summer were awarded to local Avery/Mitchell/Yancey County children. One of those scholarships is at 100%, another is at 70%, and the final is at 35% and all are for day campers. The remaining two scholarships went to campers from out of state. One camper received an 83% scholarship for 6 weeks of boarding at camp and the other camper received a 50% scholarship for 4 weeks of boarding at camp.
As of the start of our 2015 Camp Season, we're pleased to share that we have raised $30,198 for the Carl D. North Scholarship Fund, $1391 of which came from Camp Store proceeds from last summer. Of this $30,198 in scholarship funds, it's worth noting that $3,966 came as a result of the Big Heart Ben campaign organized and sponsored by Ben, a day camper from Mitchell County who experienced Camp Spring Creek for the first time last summer. You can read Ben's heart-warming story in full right here. In short, he set about to raise 50% of the funds needed to send one of his friends (who also has dyslexia) to camp as a day camper for 4 weeks. Ben did this with the understanding that he would be unlikely to attend camp himself this summer. He simply wanted to "pay it forward" after his life-changing experience last year.
The happy news is that Ben raised the 50% and Camp Spring Creek provided matching funds, resulting in a scholarship for a local child. Even more exciting, camp offered Ben a 35% scholarship for his efforts and he will be able to return to camp again this summer. We're thrilled to have him back, to welcome another local scholarship camper, and to see such a generous young man making a positive difference in the world.

Gearing up for Summer 2015

Summer 2015 launches in just 6 short weeks. We're busy getting ready--finalizing hiring, planning training, dreaming of weekend dances... Meantime, we just finished up a Classroom Educator Course in April and have an Associate Level OG Training scheduled for May.

Oh, and our Press Manager who manages our blog, Katey, is getting married next week!

All of which is to say: We'll be pausing the blog until early June. It's for a good cause--we're getting ready for YOU!

Thanks for your support from near and far. We value your readership and our online community. Stick with us!


Big Heart Ben Update: 6 Days to Go!

There are only 6 days left to help Ben reach his goal! The Big Heart Ben scholarship initiative begins with a single camper. Ben has dyslexia and struggled academically. Awarded a scholarship for 4 weeks at Camp Spring Creek, he received one-on-one attention from trained Orton Gillingham tutors, improving his reading abilities by two grade levels. The next fall, Ben made the A-B Honor Roll. Now, Ben wants to pay it forward by sending a friend, who is also dyslexic, to camp. He's raising funds, despite the fact that returning to camp himself is beyond his family's reach. Camp Spring Creek's goal is to compliment Ben's local efforts by casting a wider net online, reaching generous donors like you. Camp is also matching dollars that are donated, so only half the tuition is needed to send just 1 child. Can you help? Donate online and share the post right here.


Summer 2015 Registration Updates

We're thrilled that we already have 25 campers registered for the first session of camp, and 28 campers registered for the second session. The way the bunks, staffing, and numbers all work out, this translates to 5 open spaces for first session, and 2 open spaces for the second session (just about). If you or someone you know is a good match for Camp Spring Creek, please visit our admissions page, which will inform you about the application and tuition process. Meantime, feel free to reminisce with us by viewing this "opening day" video from a few summers ago:


In Their Own Words: Mother & Son Spark Giving

Ben at camp, 2014. Ben’s full story is posted here. We’re using today’s blog post to further help Ben in his self-motivated, self-organized fundraising efforts to send one if his friends in need to camp this summer. Big Heart Ben's online campaign is here.

“Ben’s really excited about trying to be part of something that will help other kids out in the area,” says his mother, Melisa Cadell. “It can be very hard to locate and expensive to have OG tutors in the classroom. It’s out of reach for many people in Mitchell County. Any awareness raising that we can do feels really important.”

Ben wrote a letter to hand-deliver to local businesses, which has gotten the ball rolling. Although the funds will go directly to help a Mitchell County child, he’s accepting donations from around the globe and would be delighted if any blog readers want to help out.

“Toward the end of last summer, Ben kept talking about his friends from school who would benefit from Camp Spring Creek,” says Cadell. “He realized he was experiencing and amazing transformation and realized that if other students had that opportunity it would also be beneficial.”

Any amount—from $10 to $100—will help Ben reach is goal to raise $3350 (with Camp Spring Creek providing matching funds). Here is his letter:

Dear Community,

My name is Ben. I am a student in Mitchell County. I was tested for dyslexia last year. I was tutored and went to Camp Spring Creek.

I learned to read better. I met people from all over the world. They were dyslexic like me. I want to help other kids like me. Please help me raise money for their camp.

Thank you,



His mother’s also wrote a letter, to accompany Ben’s:

Dear Community Leader,

Enclosed you will find a letter from my eleven-year-old son discussing the challenges of a condition called dyslexia. It affects about 15-20 % of any population. About 5% are severely limited in their education if the problem is not addressed.

There are limited opportunities for the public schools in our area to assist these students due to the lack of public funding and properly trained tutors. Dyslexia is neurologically based and creates difficulties in processing of information. It is not a sign of poor intelligence; rather, many dyslexics go on to become successful because of their innate ability to find inventive ways to solve problems. They are often gifted in areas such as math, science, engineering, art, and technology. That being said, too many fall between the cracks and are limited because of their failure in our education system.

The stigma that my son and other dyslexic students are finding the most difficult to maneuver is that they are often categorized as unable to learn at the normal classroom pace. Reading is such an important component in testing and, because of this, they are often retained and or placed in classes that do not expect much from them.  

We are fortunate in this small community to have a special camp that serves an international dyslexic community with tutors and counselors that come from all over the United States and abroad. Camp Spring Creek offers and opportunity for these underserved students to learn and thrive. Specially trained tutors help campers organize time, learn how to decode language, understand vocabulary and improve fluency.

The cost of the camp is very expensive because of the specially trained staff and the extracurricular activities they offer. Many young people in our area cannot afford the tuition, but through a generous opportunity granted by their Board of Directors last year, my son  was allowed to attend as a day camper. In a four-week span he improved his reading by two grade levels. He is now attempting to make this possible for other students by helping raise awareness and speaking to public groups who could help fund the opportunity for others.

If you can contribute by having him speak at your organization or by financially donating funds to this cause, you would be making a difference in the life of a student who has struggled so hard to gain an education within a system that is often unable to help because of limited funding.

Thank You,

Melisa Cadell

Donations for Ben's cause can be made by calling camp at 828-766-5032 or giving online right here.

In Her Own Words: Lesley, parent

Susie and Winston during our most recent Camp Show. "My husband and I talked with our son Winston about how being dyslexic doesn’t mean he isn’t smart, simply that he has to find learning strategies that work for him. But I don’t think that really took hold until he was in an environment where all the kids were in the same boat. Camp Spring Creek was an extremely positive experience for him. Winston returned home with a lot more confidence and higher self-esteem, which has translated into being a better self-advocate and improved grades at school. ” (Lesley Toutain, Winston's mom)

Year End Round of Applause

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We'd like to offer a round of applause and public note of appreciation to all our grant-funding organizations, partner organizations, trainees, tutors, counselors, staff, parents, and of course--our CAMPERS! Without the team effort from everyone on this list, we could not be where we are today. Where are we? We're in a position to offer slightly more scholarships each year, we're in a position to train local teachers without cost to the teachers themselves, we're in a position to observe and celebrate the accomplishments of our "extended family," we're in a position to expand year-round programming and improve our physical campus, and we're in a position of sincere gratitude to all of you as we look to the future and realize our fullest capabilities are within reach. Slow and steady, we're growing the best ways we know how. Thank YOU for making it possible!

For substantial funding and grants:

Ms. Robyn Oskuie (Endowment)

Dr. Louis Harris (Endowment)

CFWNC (People in Need Grant)

Mitchell Fund (People in Need Grant)

For partner organizations:

OpenDoors of Asheville

Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators

Bald Creek Elementary School

Mitchell County Schools

Arden Reading Clinic

Augustine Project Winston-Salem

For individual donors:

Philanthropists: Mr. & Mrs. Bill Shattuck, Rainbow Fund, and The True North Foundation.

Benefactors: Triangle Community Foundation

Sponsors: Mr. & Mrs. Tom Brown, Mr. & Mrs. Duane Connell, Mr. & Mrs. Walter Daniels, Mrs. Lori Ferrell, Dr. & Mrs. Bill Sears, Longleaf Foundation, Mr. & Mrs. Samuel S. Polk, Mr. and Mrs. Jeremy Teaford,

Supporters: Mr. Edward Banta, Mr. & Mrs. Charles McClain, Mr. Andrew Oliphant, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Oliphant, Mr. & Mrs. Jonathan Schoolar, Dr. & Mrs. Brian Shaw, Mr. & Mrs. Mike Warren.

Contributors: Mr. Brown & Ms. Rosasco, Ms. Marobeth Ruegg, Mrs. Geradts Cutrone, Ms. Amanda Kyle Williams, Mr. C. Wilson Anderson, Jr., Mr. & Mrs. Dan Blanch, Mr. & Dr. Christy, Mr. Jon Ellenbogen & Ms. Becky Plummer, Mr. & Mrs. Jeff Greene, Dr. & Mrs. David Hoeppner, Mr. & Mrs. Morgen Houchard, Ms. Valerie Imbleau, Mrs. Karen Leopold, Mrs. Theresa Krug, Mr. Thomas Loring, Mr. & Mrs. Brannon Morris, Mr. & Mrs. Joel Plotkin, Ms. Rebecca Morgan, Dr. & Mrs. Anthony Shaw, Mr. & Mrs. Jason Smith, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Tucker, Dr. & Mrs. William Chambers, Dr. & Mrs. Taylor Townsend, Ms. Juanita Greene, Mr. & Mrs. Kevin Schulte, Mr. & Mrs. Matthew Baker, Mr. & Mrs. Ed Anderson, Mr. & Mrs. Roger Burleson, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Tappan, Mr. & Mrs. Scott Ramming, Mr. & Mrs. A D Dreibholz, Mr. Thomas Gilchrist, Mr. & Mrs. Phillip Jackson, Mr. & Mrs. Steve van der Vorst, Mr. & Mrs. Alton Robinson, Mr. & Mrs. Michael Wollam, Mr. and Mrs. Royall Brown.

Friends: Mr. R. Patterson Warlick, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Street, Mr. & Mrs. Frederick Pownall, Mr. & Mrs. Clinton North, Mrs. Nancy Coleman, Mr. & Mrs. David Broshar, E & J Gallo Winery, Ms. Gina Phillips, Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Humphrey, Mr. Paul Eke & Ms. Sonja Hutchins, Mr. & Mrs. James Butts, Mr. Eugene Morris, Mr. & Mrs. Jim O'Donnell, Mr. & Mrs. Ronald Cox, Mr. & Mrs. Roger Vorraber, Mr. John Littleton & Ms. Kate Vogel, Mr. & Mrs. Thor Bueno, Mr. Osaretin Eke.

In Their Own Words: Lessons Learned by 2014 Campers

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 4.56.03 PMWe'll have more tutorial/training videos very soon. Meantime, here are the last of our camper quotes from this summer's survey, which included the following question: "Describe the most surprising thing you learned about yourself while at Camp Spring Creek." Here are some of our favorite responses: "I never knew that I am good at art. I never knew that I would not be homesick." (Chase)

"How I say 'a' when I read." (Stefan)

"That I like reading." (K.K.)

"I'm better at things when I try them more than once. I also didn't think I would be good at archery but I was." (Caroline)

"I can improve on my butterfly stroke. The first and second years that I came, I did terrible in the butterfly stroke. But now that it is my third year, I have gotten much better." (Emily)

"That I can stay for a month, even though it was hard." (Jesse)

"That I love typing a lot and I like putting photos on my flashdrive." (Tommy)

"I learned about TI-GER words. I learned that I can swim faster. It was also a surprise that I could finish the color run." (Chase)

"I didn't realize that I would like woodshop and that I could make so many things and draw so much and be able to accomplish most of the strokes in swimming and to be competitive about a lot of things and be really good at sports and really like to play." (Michelle)

"That I can wakeboard really well!" (Janusz)

"That when I try my hardest, I can get it right and I can make the A/B honor roll." (Cynia)

"I can do a back dive. I can make a pizza. I can bake cookies." (Jazel)

"I have learned that I like to build things out of wood. I have also made friends and have better manners at the table." (Ana)

"I thought that reading was boring, but it was fun. I thought that writing was boring, but it was fun." (Brooke)

In Her Own Words: Sinem Kaplan, Camp Counselor

We briefly surveyed some of our camp staff at the end of this summer and would like to share some of their inspiring responses. This week's reply comes from Sinem. Here's what she had to say: Camp Spring Creek: Explain some of your impressions as a Counselor for Camp Spring Creek. What proved most challenging? What proved most rewarding?

Sinem Kaplan: The most challenging part for me was language and communication, since English isn't my first language. The most rewarding part was when a kid comes and hugs me. That was the best feeling I have ever had. Campers' loves and trusts motivated me a lot. CSC: As a role model to young campers, what were you most surprised by once you got to know the campers and felt comfortable in your role as Camp Counselor?

SK: The suprising part was some rules that put distance between counselors and the campers, for appropriateness, because they were away from their families for a long time for their young ages. We were their families at the camp. I don't remember any difficulties about being a good role mDSC_0617odel to the campers. Sometimes it was hard to be patient, [smile], but I was able to handle it.

CSC: Where are you now and what are you up to? (Job, school, city, country.)

SK: I am in Istanbul, Turkey. It's my last year at university and I will be an English teacher next year.

CSC: Finally, if you have a fave photo that you took this summer, please share it with us.

SK: Here's my photo. Love to all from Turkey!


In Her Own Words: Marguerite van der Vorst, Camp Counselor (& more)

PastedGraphic-1We briefly surveyed some of our camp staff at the end of this summer and would like to share some of their inspiring responses. This week's reply comes from camp daughter Marguerite, who has also served as lifeguard, counselor, and all-around helper and motivator. Here's what she had to say: Camp Spring Creek: Explain some of your impressions as a Counselor for Camp Spring Creek. What proved most challenging? What proved most rewarding?

Marguerite van der Vorst: As a camp counselor there were both rewards and challenges. It might sound cliche, but the most challenging part of camp was watching all the children who I had grown so close to, leave. There were other challenging parts of course, but nothing as challenging as their departure. The most rewarding part was watching the kids improve not only in their academics, but also in their self-confidence and, for me, their swimming and water skiing abilities. Seeing that sparkle in their eyes when they achieved something they didn’t think they could just melted my heart.
CSC: As a role model to young campers, what were you most surprised by once you got to know the campers and felt comfortable in your role as Camp Counselor?
MV: I was most surprised by the connections I built with the campers so quickly. I knew I would grow close to them over time, but never realized that in four weeks they would feel like family. On a humorous note, I was surprised at how well I could deal with vomit and sick children.:)
CSC: Where are you now and what are you up to? (Job, school, city, country.)
MV: Right now I am currently in school at UNC Wilmington. I just started my sophomore year and couldn’t be busier. I just got accepted into the Honors College which added to my workload. I also have gotten quite involved with my sorority and plan to run for Scholarship Chair in December.
CSC: Finally, if you have a fave photo that you took this summer, please share it with us.
MV: I couldn’t choose between the two, so enjoy both!