By: Dana Leshem
This past week, Summer 365 got to experience the magic that is Camp POWER! We had been looking forward to this camp-filled week for the whole summer, and we can’t believe it is already over. We came away with the most amazing memories, the most meaningful friendships, and even the coolest dance moves. We were honored to be a part of this awesome week and bring the gift of camp and the great outdoors to so many deserving kids… but we were even more touched by the things they taught us in turn.
Associate Director, Slade Sohmer, so aptly describes the powerful experience that makes camp the special place and community that it is.
“Camp POWER, affords kids who grow up way too fast in underfunded neighborhoods the opportunity to just be kids. Camp for most of us meant no homework, no piano lessons, no Little League. For the kids of Camp POWER, camp means no sirens, no territories, no gangs. Camp for most of us meant a barely edible mess hall food. For the kids of Camp POWER, camp means three actual meals a day, all they can eat. Camp for most of us meant sometimes complaining about the activities we didn’t want to play that day. For the kids of Camp POWER, camp means tubing around a country lake, rock wall climbing, and kickball and football on fields without broken glass.
If these kids don’t think the grass is always greener elsewhere, it’s simply because they just don’t see much in the way of grass where they live the other 51 weeks of the year.
For one week every August, a Brooklyn-based non-profit organization founded by Scot Tatelman called Country Roads Foundation brings 160 fifth- through ninth-graders from two of New York’s toughest neighborhoods to a beautiful summer camp in the Pocono Mountains.”
The week started off with a bang! After the counselor orientation, the kids arrived, and, as by Camp POWER tradition, there was a huge dance party waiting to greet the kids and endless cheering as they stepped off the busses. Throughout the week, the campers got the best taste of sleepaway camp. The actual session plays out the same as the traditional sleepaway camp experience we know and love: two activity periods in the morning, three in the afternoon, clean-up/bunk inspections, arts & crafts, general swims, evening activities in the Social Hall, morning and evening lineups around the flagpole, and spirited chants in the dining hall. The campers got to try tubing, the ropes course, gaga, and all of the other activities that campers love. There were special evening activities in the social hall, such as a talent show where we saw some amazing performances, a Mr. and Mrs. Camp POWER, which brought roaring laughs and applause to all, and a crazy pool party that everyone loved, especially in the heat of camp!
The highlight of the week comes in the form of Olympics, an all-day program in which camp is split into two teams, Blue and White. It begins with Tug of War, progresses into individual group sporting events, moves forward with an all-camp, 80-activity Apache Relay and culminates with a challenging Trivia Bowl. Our own Lauren Kasnett was even named General of the White Team! It was such an honor, and we are so proud of her!
The most special part of Camper POWER was definitely the last night when scholarships were awarded. The Camp POWER Isaac B. Solomon Memorial Scholarship Award is given each summer to a boy and a girl in each age group that have provided an outstanding contribution to the camp community, and best exemplified the Camp POWER philosophy. Voted on by the entire staff, each $1,000 scholarship goes directly towards college tuition, books, and living expenses for these very deserving kids.
In addition to the funds which are awarded to them upon high school graduation, recipients take an all expenses paid trip (in the past years it has been Boston and this year it will be to Philadelphia) filled with volunteer work, site seeing, and college campus tours. The Scholarship Award was presented at the final night’s campfire and it was such an amazing moment that the recipients and the camp community will never forget!
Camp POWER is a life-changing program, both for the staff and the campers. It was a week filled with bonding, laughing, cheering, and playing that was the perfect end to an amazing summer. We are so lucky to have been able to participate in this inspiring week, and to get the chance to spend the week at camp with great kids! To learn more, check out Camp POWER and our GIVE SUM charity fund, and help us give the gift of summer camp to even more kids!
A special thank you and shout out to founders Scot and Jacqueline Tatelman, Beryl and Michael Jackowitz, Slade Sohmer, Country Roads Foundation, Roads to Success, and all the campers and counselors who helped create an incredibly powerful week and camp experience!
At Summer 365 we believe that every child deserves the gift of summer camp. For those who aren’t familiar with GIVE SUM, it is our special scholarship fund for families who would otherwise not be able to afford to send their children to camp. For every child that we help place in one of our recommended camps or programs, in turn we will donate a portion of each commission we receive into GIVE SUM.
Country Roads Foundation (CRF) is the inspiring charity that we are extremely proud to support for our ride! CRF is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization that donates 100% of its proceeds and efforts to Camp POWER — a one-week, residential camp impacting the lives of hundreds of children growing up in three of America’s most impoverished neighborhoods — East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant, & Red Hook Brooklyn.
Built on the belief that children of turbulent neighborhoods are often forced to grow up too fast, CRF and Camp POWER’s supportive and accepting community allows them to be just who they are — kids! In just five years, CRF has provided over 1,000 boys & girls with this life changing program and allowing kids to experience the gift of camp.
To see more pictures from the week head to the CRF photo gallery.